Is legal separation in Georgia allowed? The quick answer is no. The state of Georgia does not recognize legal separations. It also does not have provisions in place for court actions when it comes to legal separations. However, a couple still has a right to physically separate. Whether they plan to divorce or not, they can obtain an order called Separate Maintenance to help them divide assets and debts and manage custody and visitation agreements for any minor children.
When to File a Separate Maintenance Order
A Separate Maintenance order is beneficial to couples who prefer not to legally divorce for religious reasons or need to stay legally married to maintain spouse’s rights for health insurance or a pension plan. The primary legal differences between divorce and a Separate Maintenance order is simple. A divorce decree ends the marriage and a Separate Maintenance order does not. If you have a Separate Maintenance order but no divorce, you cannot legally marry someone else. The Separate Maintenance also keeps the door open to reconcile with the spouse at any time.
In other ways, the Separate Maintenance is similar to a divorce in that it addresses the following:
- Child support
- Child custody
- Spousal support
- Division of property
What Are the Requirements for a Separate Maintenance Order?
To file for a Separate Maintenance order, one spouse must live in Georgia for 30 days prior to filing. For spouses not living in the same county, the spouse filing the case should file it in the county where the other party resides. If one spouse doesn’t want the separation, the filer must arrange for the other spouse to be served the paperwork.
What to Expect when Filing a Separate Maintenance Order
If the Separate Maintenance order case is uncontested, the judge will likely sign the order. This will only happen if both spouses agree on all issues like child support, custody and property division. The judge must also deem the everything to be fair for both parties.
If one of the spouses contest the order because there are disagreements about the issues, each party will need to present evidence to the judge at the hearing, and the judge will make the decisions about the case. A Separate Maintenance case is very similar to a divorce filing in terms of the process, paperwork, negotiations and associated fees.
To file for the Separate Maintenance, the couple must have a valid marriage. The spouses must also be living in a true state of separation with no pending action for divorce.
Legal Separation in Georgia
Just like with divorce, handling the paperwork, the filing process and presenting a strong case to the court can be a complicated and emotional process. However, you don’t have to go through it on your own. Reeder Law Firm is here to help walk you through the process step-by-step to give you the professional advice and support you need. To learn more about legal separation in Georgia or to get your free, confidential consultation, talk to one of our Alpharetta attorneys today at (770) 475-2521.