Georgia Legal Separation

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

Marriages are not easy to maintain and sometimes a couple needs time apart to cool off, work out their differences, and decide whether the marriage is worth saving or should be dissolved through divorce. Many states offer an alternative to divorce known as legal separation. In this arrangement, the individuals remain legally married but are bound to certain court orders relating to property, spousal support, child custody, and other conditions normally applied to a formal divorce. States vary quite a bit in how legal separations are applied, and some states even require a period of legal separation prior to a divorce.

Georgia Legal Separation: Separate Maintenance

While Georgia does not have a formal statute for legal separation, per se, couples that are living apart but haven't yet filed for divorce may pursue separate maintenance in a civil action. The process of separate maintenance is very similar to legal separation in that it addresses virtually all of the same issues addressed in a divorce without the actual dissolution of the marriage.

Those wishing to pursue an order of separate maintenance in Georgia can find templates for the complaint through their local district court (although working with an attorney is often advised). For example, the Eight Judicial Administrative District of Georgia offers the following:

See the following table for additional information about the legal separation (or separate maintenance) process in Georgia.

Statute

Georgia Code ยง 9-11-133 (Domestic Relations Case Filing Information Form, in general)

Legal Definition of Separation

The parties shall continue to live separate and apart and each shall be free from interference, molestation, authority and control, direct or indirect, by the other, as fully as if sole and unmarried, and each may reside at such place or places as he or she may select.

Grounds for Separation
  • The separation between the parties was by virtue of a mutual agreement (akin to "no fault").
  • The separation between the parties was due to misconduct on the part of the Defendant (Plaintiff must explain the nature of this misconduct, such as adultery, excessive drug use, domestic violence, abandonment, etc.)
Residency Requirements

There is no minimum residency requirement for a decree of separate maintenance; however, the court must have personal jurisdiction over the defendant (the defendant may waive this requirement).

Legal Issues Addressed in Separate Maintenance Decree

Each case may differ, but actions for separate maintenance generally address the following:

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Georgia Legal Separation: Related Resources

The following references will help you understand the process of legal separation and related matters under Georgia law, such as child custody, division of property, and divorce.

Filing for Separation? Make Sure It's Legit With an Attorney's Help

Although separation is not quite the same as a divorce, it involves a lot of legal know-how and negotiations with the opposing party in order to be successful. As with divorce, a separate maintenance decree will determine important outcomes, such as division of property and custody of any minor children. Get started today and contact a Georgia family law attorney near you.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.