Not everyone who comes to our law office wants a divorce. Some people come and tell us they want a legal separation. Every state is different, and if you’re wondering how to get a legal separation in Georgia, unfortunately, you can’t.
There is no such thing as “legal separation” in the state of Georgia. So, what do you do if you no longer want to live with your spouse, but you don’t want to officially end the marriage? The answer, in Georgia, is called “separate maintenance”.
In Georgia, you’re either married or divorced. There’s really no middle ground and there is no such thing as a legal separation in GA like you would find in other states. If your marriage is not doing well and you do not want to live with your spouse, you must ask the court for either a divorce decree or a separate maintenance order.
There are a variety of reasons why couples decide not to live together but also not to officially end the marriage in a divorce. There are retirement and pension plans that require a certain living arrangement in order to continue receiving benefits at a certain amount. Some couples have better health insurance benefits if they are married. There may be religious reasons that prevent you from considering a divorce.
With Separate Maintenance, you get some of the benefits of legal separation in Georgia, however, it’s still very different. In a separate maintenance order, the marriage does not end. You are not allowed to marry someone else, but you can move back in with your spouse any time you work out a reconciliation. With a separate maintenance order, you will still have to work out issues such as property division, alimony, child support, and custody issues.
Remember: if you want to officially end the marriage, you file for divorce. If you want to keep the marriage but no longer live together, you ask for a separate maintenance order.
Before you can file for separate maintenance, at least one party has to have lived in Georgia for 30 days. Your attorney can help you decide which county to file in based on where each party will be living.
Hopefully, both parties are OK with pursuing this course of action. However, if one spouse files and the other spouse does not agree with the filing, a process server will have to be used to deliver the paperwork.
If both parties are amenable to working out all the various issues, as in an uncontested divorce case, the judge will most likely sign off on the agreement, provided it is fair to both parties. However, if there is contention between spouses, you will need to go before a judge and they will make decisions about property and asset division, as well as custody and visitation.
One thing to remember is that this filing can be just as complicated as divorce. There will be fees that need to be paid, paperwork to be filed, and multiple court dates may be possible. Perhaps the most helpful decision you can make is your choice of an attorney. They can help you to evaluate all your options and decide whether it’s worth it for you to file for divorce or separate maintenance.
If you are looking for a family court attorney Atlanta or reside in Henry, Clayton, or Fayette counties, Family Matters Law Group is here to help you with your court case. We have years of experience helping our clients make tough decisions and fighting for their best interests and those of their children.
If you’d like to set up a consultation, simply call or use our online contact form. We look forward to hearing your story and helping to evaluate all your options.