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Misunderstandings About Georgia Divorce


Going through a divorce is never easy, but sometimes it can be even more difficult if you have received the wrong information about how proceedings actually go. Ensuring that you have been able to bust myths about your divorce and asset division can help you keep your expectations appropriate, and if you have questions, contacting a knowledgeable family lawyer is a good first step.  

Do I have to be separated before I can get a divorce? In Georgia, the answer is no. Many states require that spouses be legally separated for a certain period of time before a divorce can be filed or granted, to ensure that this weight decision is not simply entered into at leisure. However, Georgia does not require this.  In fact, Georgia law does not recognize legal separation.  That being said, you and your spouse may certainly choose to separate if you would like to; but, it is not strictly necessary.  

Will the court take the emotional damage I have experienced into account when dividing our assets?  In Georgia, the court will equitably divide the assets acquired by divorcing parties during their marriage.  While the equitable division of marital assets often results in the 50/50 division of such assets, equitable division does not necessarily mean equal division.  While the court does not necessarily consider a party’s emotional damage, Georgia is one of the few states where a party’s fault can be considered the grounds for the divorce.  In these cases, evidence of  a party’s behavior, including unethical behavior such as marital infidelity, can result in a different percentage divide of the assets.   

But if my spouse cheated or otherwise acted inappropriately or unethically, that means I should be entitled to alimony and a greater share of our assets, right?  Under Georgia law alimony may (or may not) be granted  based on the court’s evaluation of the need of one spouse as well as the other spouse’s ability to pay.  Alimony is therefore need-based as opposed to emotion-based.  In addition, Georgia law states that alimony is “authorized, but not required.”  It is also important to note that in recent years, the prevailing standard in Georgia is to consider the length of the parties’ marriage in determining whether or not an award of alimony is appropriate.  For example, alimony is not likely to be awarded where the parties were only married for a very short period of time. 

If I do receive alimony, I get it until I remarry or until my ex-spouse dies, right? Not necessarily. There are multiple types of alimony, with the two most common being periodic (payments made every so often) and lump sum (one payment made, usually upon the close of divorce proceedings).  If you are granted periodic alimony, but you later cohabitate with someone in a “meretricious” relationship (in other words, a non-marital romantic relationship), your spouse has the right to seek modification of the alimony payments, and perhaps even move to have the remaining alimony payments terminated, depending on the specific situation.  

Contact An Atlanta Family Lawyer 

Divorce is complex and exhausting, and having someone experienced in family law on your side can help the process go much more smoothly. The Atlanta divorce attorneys at Buckhead Family Law can help answer any questions you might have, and help you get to a point where you are able to move on in life. Call us today to schedule an appointment.


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