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What is Legal Separation in Georgia?

by Sharon Jackson  on August 23, 2022 under ,

Before filing a divorce in Georgia, you must first be legally separated. This does not, however, imply that you or your spouse must leave the marital home. You merely have to set aside marital relations with the goal of divorcing under Georgia law. While living under one roof, parties can still be legally separated.

There is no requirement for a separation agreement, either in paper or verbally, yet it is preferable to have a mutually agreed-upon or provable date. There is no time limit, although it is encouraged that you stay for at least 30 days. If either spouse moves out or into another bedroom with the aim of filing for divorce in Georgia, you are separated under the law.

What is Legal Separation in Georgia?

Legal separation is generally an alternative to annulment and divorce for ending a marriage. In Georgia, rather than grant them legal separation, courts allow couples to get separate maintenance and remain married on paper. In other words, a legal separation in Georgia is a court order that specifies a married couple's rights and responsibilities while they are living apart. The parties are still married at the end of a legal separation.

Is legal separation recognized in Georgia?

No. Unfortunately, legal separation is not recognized by Georgia courts. If spouses are eager to part but aren't sure if they want to terminate their marriage, it does allow them to pursue separate maintenance as a divorce alternative.

How do you get legally separated in GA?

When there is no divorce case ongoing between spouses, a separate maintenance action can be filed, according to O.C.G.A. § 19-6-10. A separate maintenance action is similar to a divorce in that you and your spouse will reach an agreement that addresses everything – from who will have custody and visitation rights for minor children to how debts will be paid and the amount of alimony and child support that may be appropriate in your case.

In short, all problems that could be handled in a divorce can usually be addressed in a separate maintenance action, with the obvious exception of the parties' formal divorce order.

How to file for legal separation in Georgia?

To be eligible for separate maintenance (i.e. legal separation), you must show that you have met all of the following criteria:

  •    You and your partner have a legal marriage.
  •    You and your partner are not living together (no cohabitation), and
  •    Neither of the partners filed for divorce. (Ga. Code Ann. § 19-6-10.)

Partners can be separated at any time. They must set and agree on a date for their separation and refrain from having sexual relations from that point forward. It can be the first day of the month if spouses can't recall when they decided to divorce, the day someone moves to a new bedroom, or any day following a major quarrel - what counts is that both parties can easily verify this date.

How much does it cost to file for separation in Georgia?

There are numerous advantages to pursuing a separate maintenance case rather than a divorce. The cost of a separate maintenance action, like a divorce action, is determined by whether the parties agree to the terms.

Benefits of legal separation in Georgia

When the parties truly want to work on their marriage (or don't want to get divorced at this time for some reason), a separate maintenance action and agreement is advantageous. It can bring financial and emotional security as well as clarity to the parties about what life will be like after the divorce, allowing them to reconcile and work on their relationship. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the separate maintenance arrangement can be integrated into the official divorce process and a divorce settlement agreement to prevent further fees if one of them chooses to pursue a final divorce.

Contact us

If you're going through a divorce or thinking about separate maintenance in GA , speak with an experienced family law expert in your area.

 Call Attorney Sharon Jackson at (678) 909-4100 right now to discuss your legal options.


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