Do You Have to Get Legally Separated Before a Divorce in GA?
In order to file for a divorce in the State of Georgia, you and your spouse must be legally separated, but this very likely doesn’t mean exactly what you think it means. As with everything else divorce-related, it’s complicated, but an experienced Forsyth divorce lawyer can help.
Georgia’s Separation Requirement
In Georgia, the separation requirement prior to divorce requires only that you and your spouse suspend marital relations in response to your intention to divorce. As such, you can fulfill your separation obligation while continuing to live under the same roof. Further, you need no official separation agreement (either verbal or in writing), and there is no minimum amount of time that you must remain separated before you file – but a month is generally recommended.
It is, however, important that the separation be consistent – that you and your spouse don’t reunite within the timeframe of your separation. Therefore, if you are seeking a divorce in Georgia, your legal separation requirement is met if one of you moves out of the house or your shared bedroom – with the intention of divorcing. Because identifying a date of separation for the purpose of divorce can affect your spousal support, it is highly recommended.
It is interesting to note that, although Georgia requires what it calls a legal separation prior to divorce, it does not recognize legal separation in the traditional sense. This means that you can’t obtain a legal separation in lieu of divorce. In the State of Georgia, you are married until you are divorced, which means that those assets you acquire during what you might consider a legal separation remain marital property – to be divided equitably between you and your spouse (from whom you consider yourself legally separated) in the event of an actual divorce.
Spousal Support after Separation
While any spousal support you receive prior to the date of your actual separation may be used to help guide the terms of your post-divorce support, support that is paid during this separation is generally not admissible when it comes to determining support. The court finds that such payments may not be sustainable in the long run and that they can confuse the issue of post-divorce support. As such, the following apply:
- Specifying a date upon which your legal separation requirement for divorce begins can ultimately affect your spousal support payments, which makes allowing the matter the attention it deserves critical.
- The obligor (the spouse who pays spousal support) may, for example, want to push the separation start date back in order to exclude evidence of voluntary support from the case.
- The payee (the spouse who receives spousal support), however, may want to push the date forward, to help ensure that voluntary support prior to that date be considered by the court.
An Experienced Forsyth County Divorce Lawyer Can Help
The skilled Forsyth County divorce lawyers at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland have the experience, drive, and legal insight to help you take on your most difficult divorce concerns. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 770-887-1209 today.