There are many grounds for divorce in Georgia, from adultery to irretrievably broken marriage. And the GA grounds for divorce may be a relevant factor that the court will consider in the determination of certain issues, such as alimony, in a divorce case.

What are the 13 grounds for divorce in Georgia?

Under Georgia divorce law, there are 13 statutory grounds for divorce in Georgia, which are as follows:

  • Certain intermarriage by people related to each other via blood or marriage, such as between father and daughter or brother and sister;
  • Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage;
  • Inability to have sexual intercourse 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, where the husband does not know;
  • Adultery after marriage;
  • Willful and continued desertion by either of the parties for a period of one year;
  • The conviction of either party for an offense involving moral turpitude, under which he is sentenced to imprisonment in a penal institution for a period of two years or longer;
  • Habitual intoxication;
  • Cruel treatment;
  • Incurable mental illness;
  • Habitual drug addiction; or
  • The marriage is irretrievably broken.

Do you have to separate before divorce in GA?

Yes, generally there has to be a separation in order to get a divorce. Georgia divorce law requires the filing spouse to show the date of the separation in his or her petition for divorce. O.C.G.A. § 19-5-5 (b)(3).

How long do you have to be separated before divorce in GA?

While you do generally need to be separated to get a divorce, there is no requirement that you be separated for a specific period of time.

Under Georgia divorce law, separation does not require that one spouse move out of the marital residence. Rather, separation occurs when the marital relations are suspended. Thus, separation occurs where the company, cooperation, assistance, and intimacy of the other spouse are suspended even if both spouses still reside under the same roof.  

What does it mean if a marriage is irretrievably broken?

Irretrievably broken marriage is one of the 13 grounds for divorce in GA. An irretrievably broken marriage means a marriage “where either or both parties are unable or refuse to cohabit and there are no prospects for a reconciliation.” Simply put, an irretrievably broken marriage is where “the marriage has ended in fact.”

Also, where one spouse refuses to cohabit with the other spouse and testifies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the fact that the other spouse maintains hope for a reconciliation will not support a finding that there is a hope for reconciliation.  

Is adultery grounds for divorce in Georgia?

Yes, adultery is one of the 13 grounds for divorce in Georgia.

What constitutes adultery in Georgia?

Adultery can be proven via either direct or circumstantial evidence.

For example, adultery was circumstantially proven where the wife: (1) secretly met a man who is not her husband at a motel out of state where they had rooms next to each other for several days and nights; (2) were seen together in public at restaurants, in cars, and at the motel, entering and leaving each other’s room and spending nights together in her room with the lights off; and (3) the wife admitted to other people of her wrongdoings. Johnson v. Johnson, 218 Ga. 28 (1962).

What is cruel treatment as grounds for divorce in Georgia?

Cruel treatment is defined by the statute as “willful infliction of pain, bodily or mental, upon the complaining party, such as reasonably justifies apprehension of danger to life, limb, or health.” Thus, cruel treatment is any act done to torment, vex, or afflict or any act of inhumanity, wrong, oppression, or injustice.

Georgia divorce law requires that an intention to wound is a necessary element of cruel treatment as grounds for divorce. And a divorce on the grounds of cruel treatment presupposes a bona fide separation, and no fixed period of separation is required by law.

One example of the circumstances where it was found that there was cruel treatment is as follows: For several years, husband cursed and yelled at wife, without reason. He kept her nervous and upset. He made her cry. He threatened to leave her and frequently went for long periods of time without speaking to her at all. Wife testified she feared husband’s acts were adversely affecting her health. Morehead v. Morehead, 227 Ga. 428 (1971).

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