If you are thinking about asking for a divorce, it is important to be familiar with Georgia's requirements for divorce. Just as there are legal requirements to get married, there are legal requirements to get divorced.
You or your spouse must be a resident of Georgia for six months before you can file a petition for divorce, and in your petition you must list a legally valid reason, called a ground, for divorce. Although the residency requirement is fairly straightforward, people are sometimes confused about which ground they should choose.
Choosing one of 13 grounds
As Leo Tolstoy wrote in his famous novel, “Anna Karenina,” “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Because every marital situation is unique, the best ground for one couple’s divorce may not be as beneficial in someone else’s situation. Fortunately, there are 13 grounds to choose from in Georgia, so you can select the ground that best fits your situation.
The 13 grounds for divorce include:
- Spouses are closely related family members
- Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage
- Impotence at the time of the marriage
- The marriage was obtained by force, menace, duress or fraud
- The wife was pregnant with another man’s child at the time of the marriage, and the husband was not aware of it
- Willful and continued desertion for a year or more
- Imprisonment for two years or longer because of a particularly vile crime
- Habitual intoxication
- Cruel treatment
- Incurable mental illness
- Habitual drug addiction
- The marriage is irretrievably broken.
Fault versus no-fault grounds
Most of the grounds Georgia recognizes are fault-based grounds. This means that you blaming the reason for divorce on your spouse. However, the ground stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken is a no-fault ground. This means that you can still get a divorce without blaming your spouse.
Depending on your situation, a fault-based ground for divorce may or may not be appropriate. Whatever ground you choose, you must prove that your reason for divorce is valid. That can sometimes be more difficult to do with fault-based grounds. However, some fault-based grounds can impact alimony awards or how assets are divided, which could be in your favor.
If you think it may be necessary to end your marriage, it can be helpful to understand the requirements that must be met to do so. Although the residency requirement may be straightforward, you may want some time to consider which ground for divorce may be most appropriate for your situation.