Multiple factors regarding location contribute to the legality of filing for a Georgia divorce. Knowing where and how to file your divorce complaint is an essential step in the process. Our dedicated, compassionate team is here to help you and your family navigate this system.
You do not have to file for divorce in the same state where you obtained your marriage license. In fact, filing in a different state may be necessary. However, Georgia courts must have jurisdiction over the case. The courts define this as living in the state for six consecutive months immediately before and at the time of your complaint. The court cannot have legal authority over your divorce unless at least one of the parties involved (you or your spouse) is a current resident of the state. This means that if your spouse is a resident of Georgia, you may live elsewhere.
In addition, your current living status does not necessarily impact your ability to file for divorce. If you still live with your spouse, you may begin divorce proceedings provided you are “legally separated.” The residency requirement helps ensure a fair trial by preventing people from obtaining a divorce in whichever state whose laws best fit their goals. Once the divorce has been filed, either party may live wherever they choose.
A Georgia petition for divorce has to be filed with the Superior Court for the state to have jurisdiction. Typically, this will be turned into the county Superior Court clerk where your spouse lives. This will not apply if your spouse has moved out of state or if they have moved (within the past six months) outside of the county where you shared a residence. Assuming that you and your spouse live in separate counties, filing with the clerk of your own county’s Superior Court should be avoided when possible. This is because the laws surrounding the right to be sued in one’s own court protect both parties from complex litigation.
If you and your spouse do not meet the conditions for Georgia jurisdiction, you can either wait for your spouse to establish residency or request that they file as the plaintiff for your current residence.
Divorce law is sometimes quite complex on its own. Jurisdiction and venue can be notably challenging to understand, especially in the case of military families who often have to adhere to a different set of general rules. It can be helpful to seek the advice of a credible divorce attorney to explain your requirements further.
Divorce can be one of the most overwhelming situations to navigate, but our team is here to help. Call the Atlanta Divorce Law Group today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.