Unlike other states, Georgia does not recognize the concept of formal legal separation.
However, Georgia does recognize what are called separate maintenance actions. Unlike a divorce, a separate maintenance case leaves the marriage of the parties intact.
As such, the couple is not free to remarry. On the flip side, separate maintenance may not be available if either side has asked a court to end the marriage through a divorce. A person can file a separate maintenance action if the couple has agreed to live apart.
Otherwise, a person can request separate maintenance if their spouse has done something which the law would call misconduct, including something like adultery, domestic violence or certain other criminal activity.
Separate maintenance works a lot like divorce
In practice, a separate maintenance case will work a lot like a divorce. The court will divide up marital property and will split responsibility for the couple’s debts.
The court will also make any decisions that the couple cannot agree on regarding child custody, child support and parenting time. The court may also order one spouse to pay the other spouse some sort of alimony.
A separate maintenance action may interest a Georgia couple for a number of reasons. In some cases, a person may have moral or religious objections to divorce. In other cases, a couple may just not be ready to end their marriage or may feel like doing so is not best for their children. Finally, in some cases, a separate maintenance action may be to a couple’s financial advantage.
Those in the greater Atlanta area who are interested in pursuing a separate maintenance action may wish to go over their legal options. They may also want help preparing a separation agreement that will set out the couple’s rights and obligations.