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The 13 Grounds for Divorce in Georgia

There are 13 grounds for divorce in the state of Georgia. Adultery, addiction, and mental illness are some of the relevant factors. One of the most commonly used grounds for divorce is the marriage being irretrievably broken. A Georgia judge will consider certain issues, including the reasons for the divorce, to make their decisions on alimony, child custody and child support, and asset division. 

Our divorce attorneys know how to handle every kind of divorce case. We work diligently to understand our clients’ unique circumstances and goals. We can be aggressive when necessary but we understand when that approach is not called for. 

The Manely Firm has over 30 years of experience working in family law matters. We use a commonsense approach in handling sensitive cases like divorce. We work throughout Atlanta and Georgia including Marietta, Lawrenceville, Cumming, and Savanna.

12 Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce

Georgia laws define 12 fault-based grounds for divorce which can be used as reasonable grounds to dissolve a marriage. Georgia also has 1 no-fault based ground for divorce. 

Divorce is the legal process of ending a marriage. During the divorce process questions surrounding property, children, and support can be settled. As the name suggests, a final divorce is permanent and allows for remarriage. 

Georgia law does not require a spouse to claim one of the 12 fault-based grounds in order to file for divorce. If a fault-based ground is chosen then the spouse filing for divorce against their partner must prove or argue their case in front of the court. The spouse being filed against can choose to defend themselves or acquiesce. The question that comes up is why a spouse might want to choose this route. 

Georgia courts look at fault-based and no-fault based petitions for divorce differently. Courts treat these approaches differently and this can affect spousal support, child custody, and division of property. This is one of the reasons that retaining proper legal counsel is crucial. Our firm has an exceptional amount of knowledge and experience dealing with family law, including divorce. We have successfully negotiated and aggressively litigated hundreds of cases throughout Georgia. 

Georgia implemented its 13th ground for divorce in 1973. This is the ‘no-fault’ reason for divorce defined under O.C.G.A. 19-5-3. Georgia law defines this 13th reason as when a ‘marriage is irretrievably broken.’ While there are 13 grounds for divorce in Georgia a large number of divorces today use this 13th, no-fault, reason as a grounds to petition the court to dissolve a marriage. 3 of the fault-based grounds are also commonly employed. These are:

  • Adultery
  • Cruel Treatment
  • Desertion

These remaining 9 grounds are not often used:

  • Intermarriage by persons within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity or affinity
  • Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage
  • Impotence at the time of the marriage
  • Force, menace, duress, or fraud in obtaining the marriage;
  • Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband, at the time of the marriage, unknown to the husband;
  • The conviction of either party for an offense involving moral turpitude, under which he is sentenced to imprisonment in a penal institution for a term of two years or longer
  • Habitual intoxication
  • Incurable mental illness
  • Drug addiction

Fault-Based vs No-Fault Divorce

When a spouse, or both spouses, decide that the marriage has come to an end they can cite an irretrievably broken marriage as their grounds for divorce. This is Georgia’s sole no-fault reason. This can be used when there are irreconcilable differences in the marriage and when the spouses simply cannot get along. This grounds for divorce opens the possibility for an uncontested divorce case. This is when both spouses agree on how they want to divide their property or take care of their children for example. A judge will not look at an agreed-

 plan of an uncontested divorce and simply accept it, but the process might be quicker.

When can Adultery be used in divorce?

Adultery, which is commonly referred to as cheating or infidelity, is legally defined as when “one spouse engages in sexual intercourse, heterosexual or homosexual, with someone other than the spouse.” This is not an easy approach to take in divorce. The wrongdoings by the other spouse must be proven in court. If this is the course of action that’s taken then both the partner and the person involved in the infidelity must be served papers. 

Adultery can affect, if proven, can result in a judge barring the unfaithful spouse from spousal support (alimony). Adultery impacts, to a lesser extent, child custody and asset division. It however does not impact child support. 

Can emotional abuse be considered cruel treatment?

Georgia law defines cruel treatment, which is one of the 12 fault-based grounds for divorce, as the “willful infliction of pain, bodily or mental upon one spouse, or abusive treatment or inhuman or outrageous treatment of the spouse.” While ‘emotional abuse’ is not directly listed as a reason for divorce it can be argued that it falls into the category of cruel treatment. 

What is desertion?

If a spouse has physically left the marital home and resided somewhere else without their spouse for over a year then it can be considered that they deserted their spouse. They must have done so willfully, unilaterally, and without the intention of coming back. 

Strategic, Intelligent, Comprehensive – Atlanta Divorce Lawyers

Choosing whether to use fault-based or no-fault grounds for divorce is not easy. You need strong legal counsel to help guide you. Family law can be complicated and emotionally charged so choosing the right divorce attorney is critical. If you’re ready to take the first steps or want to schedule a consultation contact us today at 866-687-8561 or by clicking the button below.

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