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Is there legal separation in Georgia family law?


Legal marriage is a condition that unites two individuals under the laws of the State of Georgia for many and varied purposes. From taxation to employer benefits and inheritance to decision-making rights during times of incapacity, being married can make many facets of life different than being single. There is, of course, the other side of marriage, which is the emotional, personal or religious aspect of being wed to another person.

As we have touched on previously, Georgians have the right to file to terminate their legal marital union given some very basic filing requirements are met, and to do so without assigning any specific reason for the decision other than that the marriage is 'irretrievably broken.' However, what if a Georgia couple decides they no longer wish to reside together as a unit but, for some reason, do not wish to dissolve the legal bonds of their matrimony?

While Georgia does not recognize a distinct category of people who are 'legally separated,' state family law does provide a way for the couples described above to, more or less, accomplish their goals. Georgia Code Section 19-6-10 creates the ability for couples to file petitions in family court to determine those issues that would normally be part of a divorce proceeding, such as property division, alimony and child support, without the necessity of a dissolution of marriage. The major difference, of course, is that when these petitions are adjudicated, there will be no divorce granted.

There may be several reasons couples wish to separate, but not divorce. There may be personal or religious objections to dissolving a marriage, or there may be certain benefits that the couple agree are necessary that may be jeopardized by a legal divorce. Whatever the reason, these couples should remember that even though they may not be living together as spouses, neither will be able to marry again unless a divorce is granted.

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