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Georgia Legal Separation
Legal Separation in Georgia

The Georgia courts do not recognize legal separation; it is not an action they can grant. In Georgia, "legal separation" means the spouses no longer engage in marital relations. The term has no time frame, and the two people can be legally separated even if they reside in the same house but do not share the same room or have sexual relations.

Georgia offers divorce, annulments or separate maintenance. In this regime, a divorce ends a marriage; an annulment vacates a flawed marriage; and a separate maintenance order allows the court to rule on the marital issues surrounding the partnership, but does not grant divorce. In Georgia, separate maintenance decides all other marital issues such as property division, finances, custody of children.

Georgia grants "separate maintenance" to couples wishing not to proceed with divorce for religious reasons or if there is a legal benefit to being married (i.e., insurance). This order allows the court to preside over all marital issues, except that the couple remains legally married.

In order to file for a divorce in Georgia, the petitioner must swear that he or she is in a state of separation, which means that the party swears he or she is no longer engaging in marital activities and considers himself or herself separated.

Couples wishing separate maintenance or a divorce should create a separation agreement between the two parties. The agreement can be drafted by the parties and can include confirmation that both parties recognize their separation from marriage, and outline the disposition of all marriage property, children and alimony. Georgia does not recognize this agreement as evidence to bypass any court proceedings; however, the document is a binding agreement and can serve as a clear outline of how each party wishes to proceed.

Separation Agreement

A separation agreement is a legal binding contract signed by spouses, which is intended to resolve property, debt and child related issues. This can be a very complex and detailed document depending upon the unique situation of the marriage. Many spouses consult an attorney to provide this or they decide to prepare their own.

Residency

To file for "separate maintenance," at least one spouse must have resided in Georgia for at least six months prior to filing, based on Georgia Code Section 19-5-5.

Procedure

Petition the court for an order of separate maintenance.

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