Ending a marriage results in emotional, family, and legal issues that can be overwhelming to everyone involved.
Although many couples begin divorce proceedings once they’ve decided to move on, some people aren’t always sure if they want a divorce.
Although a legal separation may be the next available option for many, each state has its own laws related to separation and divorce.
Georgia doesn’t recognize legal separations, making it even harder for couples to determine how to protect their legal interests when facing a potential separation.
The following will help you determine what steps you can take when separating from your spouse prior to filing for divorce.
Understanding Divorce and Separation
Divorce and separation may result in similar outcomes as they relate to the living situation, finances, and child custody. In both cases, the courts determine how the division of assets, spousal support, and custody will be carried out.
A divorce establishes a formal ending to your marriage and allows either partner to move on and remarry if they choose.
A legal separation does not end the marriage. Spouses cannot legally remarry or claim to be unmarried on legal documents. But it does allow individuals to live separately without going through the divorce process.
There are many reasons why couples choose to separate rather than divorce. These include emotional, financial, and religious factors as well as insurance and other benefits.
Separation and Georgia Law
Under Georgia state law, legal separation isn’t recognized or granted to couples seeking to separate without divorcing. Instead, a couple must request a separate maintenance order or an action for divorce.
The term “legal separation” simply means that individuals are no longer engaging in marital relations. In Georgia, both parties can continue to share the same residence while separated.
A separate maintenance order gives courts the ability to determine how various issues related to the marriage will be addressed without granting a divorce. This includes the division of property, finances, and child custody.
In addition, a separate maintenance allows spouses to reconcile their marriage at any point in the future prior to filing an action for divorce.
In Georgia, couples seeking to file a divorce action must declare that they currently are not engaging in marital relations and consider themselves to be separated.
The Legal Resources You Need for Separate Maintenance
There are certain provisions that must be considered when filing for separate maintenance.
At least one spouse is required to have lived in the state of Georgia for a minimum of 30 days. For divorce actions, the minimum residency requirement is 6 months.
In cases where spouses don’t agree on the separation, the filing party must have a copy of the filed paperwork delivered to the other spouse by a process server.
But in most cases, separation maintenance actions are agreed upon by both parties in addition to issues related to alimony, custody, and support.
Separate maintenance cases have similar requirements related to documentation, filing fees, and trial processes. Working with an experienced attorney will give you the resources you need to achieve the outcome you want.
A separation agreement is essential to the separate maintenance and divorce process. The agreement outlines terms related to finances, assets, and other legal aspects.
Understanding the difference between legal separation and divorce is the first step in determining the best options for you and your spouse.
More importantly, Georgia’s laws related to separate maintenance must be considered when taking the legal steps needed to protect your personal and financial interests.
Your attorney can provide you with the information and solutions you need to establish the long-term wellbeing of you and your entire family.