Can I file for a divorce without my husband knowing?

Can I file for a divorce without my husband knowing? If so, can I divorce him without his consent?

This is a very common question. The answer is no, you cannot file without him getting notice and yes, you can divorce him without his consent.

Ok, you knew I could not just leave it there, I’m a lawyer, I have way more to say than just a simple answer to your question.

A Divorce is a civil action akin to most other civil actions from a procedural standpoint. As such, the Plaintiff (the party asking for the divorce) submits their complaint for divorce to the court asking for the relief they seek. Then, the defendant must be served with notice that the civil action has been filed against them. This “service” can be accomplished in a number of ways, the most common being service by the sheriff or if the parties are amicable, by having the defendant sign an acknowledgment of service in front of a notary. Without some type of service, the divorce will not go forward. So, as I said above, the answer is no, you cannot file for divorce without your husband knowing.

Now, here comes a long answer to your second question. Georgia is a grounds state, meaning that you must have a ground (reason) to get divorced. The divorce statute lists a number of grounds such as adultery, cruel treatment and habitual drunkenness among others. In the 1970’s the legislature decided that it was not a good idea to make people stay married until they started drinking and hitting each other, so they added the ground of irreconcilable differences. If the plaintiff is willing to testify that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that there is no hope of reconciliation the court can grant a divorce even if the defendant does not want to be divorced. 

More information on divorce.  

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