Legal Separation in Georgia

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Legal separation in Georgia is the mere declaration by the husband and wife that they are separated and no longer engage in sexual or any marital relations. The state does not need any document or agreement regarding this announcement and the husband and wife can stay under the same roof even if separated legally.

The term 'Separate Maintenance' is used to describe the legal separation in Georgia. In a separate maintenance the court presides over the decisions regarding the child custody and visitation, childcare payments, division of property and other issues related to the separation. However, alimony is not granted as the couple stays married.

While granting the separate maintenance, you need to swear that you are separated in front of the court. However, there is no specific time period that the couple is separated for. As the court does not need any agreement or any type of documentation to declare you as separated, you need to make a document for your reference so that the duties, responsibilities and rights of each party are jotted down and there will be clarity as to who should be doing what.

Filing for Separate Maintenance

  • The procedure for filing for the separate maintenance is same as filing for divorce. A petition needs to be filed and you can swear that you are separated in front of the court. However, there are some residency requirements for you to be able to file a separation petition. At least one of the two spouses should have resided in the state of Georgia six months before the filing of petition. They also need to file a petition to the county court where they reside.
  • You need to mention the reasons for separation as there are thirteen grounds on which the state grants the separation. Georgia has the option of no-fault divorce available, but you have to cite the reasons for the same.
  • The petition should consist of the names of both the parties (petitioner and respondent), residency statement with a proof, dates of wedding and separation, reason for separation, information about the children including their names, ages and schooling and education information. The individual property, community property and the earnings of both the spouses are also to be mentioned.
  • In Georgia, the separation is open for reconciliation and the couple does not need to get married again if they do reconcile. Here, it is like a trial separation, but almost always, it leads to divorce.
  • After the separation is granted, the couple remains nominally married and cannot remarry. They need to get a divorce in case they wish to marry someone else. When a spouse considers themselves to be separated, legal separation or separate maintenance can be awarded to the couple according to the legal separation laws of Georgia. This separate maintenance is enforceable through the court of law.
Steps for legal separation in Georgia
  • File the Domestic Relations Information
  • Fill the Final Disposition forms
  • File a petition for Separate Maintenance
  • Fill the Verification form.
  • Reach to a Settlement with your spouse
  • Draft a Settlement Agreement
  • Prepare a documentation file
  • Pay the fee for filing and documentation
  • Fill the forms
  • Inform the Respondent (skip this step if you are filing a joint petition)
  • If you do not reach a settlement with your spouse, take the appeal to the court where the issues will be sorted out
  • Final Judgment
In some cases, the prenuptial agreement determines what should be done with the property in the event of divorce or legal separation. For instance, if it is mentioned that a spouse will keep the house for own or will own the cash proceeds received after selling the real estate, the court has to abide by that agreement.

In some cases of desertion or cheating, an alimony is alloted on a temporary or permanent basis to the other spouse. However, there are certain factors that need to be considered before granting the spousal support.

Factors to be considered while granting an alimony or spousal support in a legal separation:

  • The duration of the marriage is considered so as to determine the contribution to the non-financial fields such as childcare, homemaking, etc.
  • The earning capacity of each spouse is taken into consideration. The inheritance, the employment, insurance, monetary rewards and other sources of income are scanned so as to determine the capacity to provide for the children and self survival.
  • The age of both the spouses plays an important role in determining whether they can start afresh or they will need financial support to scrape a living.
  • The physical and mental condition and vulnerability is assessed and help is provided accordingly to the spouse who really needs it.
  • The value of individual property of each partner is considered so as to determine whether they are fit for survival on their own or will they need a support to start a new life.
  • The standard of living during the marriage is another important factor which decides if the spousal support or alimony is required as each individual has a right to continue the standard of life they have been having in the marriage as well as falling out of it.
  • The education required to attain appropriate employment takes time and the time-being alimony is granted to such a partner.

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