Georgia is not a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. What this means is that, in order to be granted a divorce in Georgia, at least one of the spouses must be able to show the court that there is an acceptable reason. Before 1973, there were 12 circumstances that constituted grounds for divorce in Georgia. In 1973, the state — in response to a growing trend in other states of allowing no-fault divorces — added a 13th circumstance to the list of qualifying reasons. Here are the 13 reasons you can divorce your spouse.
Grounds for Divorce in Georgia
1. The marriage is irretrievably broken.
This was the final reason added to the state’s list of qualifying reasons for divorce. Unlike the other reasons, which require one spouse to prove fault on the part of the other, using this reason as grounds for divorce in Georgia only requires one spouse to show that he or she no longer wishes to be married to the other and that reconciliation is not possible.
2. Adultery by either party after the marriage.
Technically, cheating on one’s spouse is a criminal offense in Georgia, though no one has been convicted of this offense in many years. However, not only is committing adultery considered qualified grounds for divorce in Georgia, but it also can have impacts on the division of marital property as well as the ability for the offending spouse to obtain alimony.
3. Desertion that is willful and has lasted for at least one year.
The following scenarios constitute desertion:
- The spouse leaves the marital home, stops providing support, and stops communicating with his or her partner
- One spouse forces the other to leave the marital home
- The spouse refuses to engage in marital relations or perform marital duties
4. Intermarriage with a close relative.
In Georgia, marriage is prohibited between the following related individuals:
- Parent and child/stepchild
- Siblings, either whole or half
- Grandparent and grandchild
- Aunt or uncle and niece or nephew
If a marriage is found to be between related individuals, that would be a qualified reason for divorce.
5. Mental incapacity at the time when the marriage occurred.
If one spouse can prove that they did not have the mental capacity to enter into the marriage, this can be used as grounds for divorce.
6. Impotence that existed at the time of the marriage.
The law specifically states that a woman is permitted to divorce her husband if she discovers (after they are wed) that he was impotent at the time of the marriage. The impotence must have existed when the marriage occurred in order to be used as a ground for divorce.
7. The marriage was entered into via force, menace, duress, or fraud.
In order for a divorce to be permitted on this ground, a spouse must not only prove that he or she was forced or tricked into the marriage but that he or she would not have entered the marriage if it was not for being forced or tricked.
8. Pregnancy of the wife by another man at the time of marriage.
In order to be granted a divorce on this grounds, the husband must be able to show that he was unaware at the time of the marriage either of the pregnancy entirely or that he was not the biological father of the child.
9. The commission of a crime of moral turpitude.
Examples of a crime of moral turpitude include murder or manslaughter. In order to be considered grounds for divorce in Georgia, the crime must result in prison time for the offending spouse of at least two years in prison.
10. Incurable mental illness.
In order for one spouse to prove this ground in accordance with Georgia’s statutes, he or she must be able to show
- That the other spouse was adjudged mentally ill by the court or two qualified physicians who personally examined them.
- The mentally ill spouse was in a mental institution or under treatment for mental illness for at least two years.
- A chief executive officer of the institution and one physician appointed by the court must make a complete examination of the party and certify under oath that, in their opinion, “the party evidences such a want of reason, memory, and intelligence as to prevent the party from comprehending the nature, duties, and consequences of the marriage relationship and that, in the light of present-day medical knowledge, recovery of the party’s mental health cannot be expected at any time during his life.”
11. Cruel treatment, either physical or mental.
Generally, if a party is seeking a divorce on this ground, it cannot be based on a single act of cruelty, but rather a pattern of repetitively cruel behavior must be established.
12. Habitual intoxication.
In order to use this reason as grounds for divorce in Georgia, it cannot be based on an occasional drink or even occasional drunkenness. Instead, it must be shown that the other spouse had an ongoing pattern of being drunk during the course of the marriage.
13. Habitual drug addiction.
In order to use drug addiction as a reason to divorce, one spouse must be able to prove that the other had a pattern of drug use resulting from an addiction to a controlled substance, such as narcotics, marijuana, stimulants, depressants, or hallucinogenic drugs.
Contact an Atlanta Divorce Lawyer Today
If you are considering divorce in Georgia, let an experienced family lawyer provide you with information about the process. We can answer any questions you may have about grounds for divorce in Georgia and can advise you on the best way to proceed in your particular situation.
Reach out to schedule a consultation.