Technically speaking, Georgia divorce laws do not recognize a legal separation. However, you can file for what is called a separate maintenance action, defined as a judicial determination to separate spouses and provide support without a judicial termination (divorce) of the marriage.
With a separate maintenance order:
- The court makes the same decisions about child support, child custody, and alimony as in a divorce.
- You and your spouse are legally separated but each spouse remains legally married.
- You and your spouse are still technically married but not responsible for one another.
- One of the spouses must have been a Georgia resident (with proof) during the six months prior to filing.
Why Would I Choose a Separate Maintenance Order Over a Legal Separation?
Since Georgia law does not recognize legal marriage seperation, there are still at least 3 beneficial reasons for going with a separate maintenance order:
- Jurisdictional Limitations – For instance, if you have not been a resident of the state of Georgia for 6 months (minimum residency requirement) prior to filing then you cannot file a divorce action, but you may still need court intervention to provide financial support.
- Personal choice – You may not be ready for a divorce but need financial support or would like to retain benefits such as being on your spouse’s health insurance especially if you have serious medical conditions.
- Religious reasons – Your religious beliefs may prevent you from requesting a divorce yet you are in need of financial support, or you want a judicial determination of custody and visitation issues.
Filing for a separate maintenance action in Georgia is similar to the process of filing for a regular divorce. If you think a separate maintenance action may be right for you, and especially if you have minor children, schedule a free 10 minute phone consultation with Sandy Springs divorce lawyer Nancy Ghertner. Nancy will explain the difference between divorce and a separate maintenance order, and go over your options.
What Is Legal Separation in GA?
Covid 19 shelter in place rules have put an additional strain on couples, especially on parents with school-age children. You may find it helpful to talk over your separation options with Nancy. She has helped a lot of clients over a 30-year family law career, and brings a lot of wisdom to the table, including financial acumen.