Coleman Legal Group, LLC
Call 770-609-1247 to speak with an Atlanta Separations and Separate Maintenance Family Law Attorney
In Atlanta Georgia, a legal separation is more specifically an order for Separate Maintenance. Under Georgia domestic relations law, spouses who are living separately, but do not want to divorce can file an action for Separate Maintenance. Under Georgia law, the factors and conditions the court considers are the same as those for Alimony and Spousal Support. (See O.C.G.A. 19-6-10)
A Separate Maintenance action does not end a marriage and it is not the equivalent of a divorce. For example, if you have been granted a Separate Maintenance by the court, you are still technically married and cannot marry someone else. And if one spouse files for a legal separation, the other spouse can still counterclaim or file for a divorce. It is not uncommon for separate maintenance actions to ultimately result in a divorce.
A Separate Maintenance action is for spouses that do not or cannot get divorced but want to live apart. One common reason a couple may not be able to file for a divorce is the six (6) month residence requirement to file a divorce in Georgia. So it is not uncommon for new Georgia residents to file for a separation and then convert the case to a divorce after six (6) months. In a separate maintenance action, the court will issues an order for support will define the rights and responsibilities of the spouses while living apart. Like all court orders, a separate maintenance order can be enforced by bringing a contempt action with the court.
Either the husband or wife may file a separate maintenance action with the court and ask for alimony, child support, property division and allocation of marital debts. A divorce action does not have to be pending and the parties technically can still be living at the same address. The other spouse must be served with the separate maintenance action in accordance with Georgia law. Once decided upon by the court, a judge can grant a Separate Maintenance order – which can be enforced the same way as a divorce decree. (See O.C.G.A. 19-6-10) However, couples that agree that a legal separation is best for them and settle the matter as an uncontested action before it is filed with the court or settle the case before it goes to trial.
In Atlanta Georgia, you may file for separate maintenance so long as you are in a valid legally recognized marriage and are living in a state of separation. In Atlanta and other cities in Georgia, a husband and wife may continue to reside at the same address and still be legally separated. But the husband and wife cannot share the same bed and their lives should be separate financially and socially. Also, there must not be a pending action for divorce to file for separate maintenance.
There can be several reasons a person may choose for a legal separation rather than a divorce; the most common are:
– To maintain health insurance coverage for a dependent spouse
– For religious belief reasons
– For social and cultural reasons
– There is a possibility the parties will reconcile
– The filing party does not yet meet the residency requirement to file a divorce in Georgia
Difference Between a Georgia Divorce and a Legal Separation / Separate Maintenance Action
A person may wish to file for separate maintenance over a divorce because unlike a divorce, a legal separation does not include six (6) month residency requirement. Another difference is that unlike a divorce action, the defendant must be personally served separate maintenance action and cannot be served with publication. Therefore, if you cannot find your spouse to perfect personal service, you will be required to file a divorce action and serve by publication.
In an uncontested action for separate maintenance, the parties must be in total agreement regarding all material issues such as child support, alimony, child custody, division of marital property, division of marital debts and any other relevant issues. In an uncontested action for separate maintenance, there is no trial before a judge or jury. Rather, the court is asked to approve a signed and notarized written agreement between the parties describing in detail the complete agreement between the parties including all the court’s requirements for the agreement to be enforceable. If it is agreed and written as such, an uncontested separate maintenance agreement can also be used as the agreed terms if there is a subsequent action for divorce between the parties. Coleman Legal Group, LLC’s Atlanta family law attorneys can assist in making that your separate maintenance agreement is in your best interest now and in the future should it become part of an action for divorce.
In a contested action for separate maintenance there will be no signed agreement for separate maintenance between the parties. And unless the parties settle the case before a trial is held, a Judge will review evidence presented in the case and decide the terms for a separate maintenance decree. A contested separate maintenance action will usually include discovery such as: depositions, interrogatories, requests for production of documents, request for admissions.
Our Atlanta Georgia separate maintenance and family law attorneys handle cases in the following cities and communities: Atlanta, Alpharetta, Roswell, Johns Creek, Milton, Cumming, Marietta, Woodstock, Kennesaw, Gainseville, Midtown Atlanta, Norcross, Lawrenceville, Kennesaw, Duluth, Buckhead, Dunwoody, Vinings, and Smyrna.
Our Atlanta Georgia separations and family law attorneys frequently handle cases for clients residing in the following counties: Fulton, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Cobb, DeKalb, Henry, Cherokee, Douglas, Carroll, Coweta, Paulding, Bartow, Hall, Barrow, Walton, Newton, Rockdale, Henry, Spalding, Fayette and Clayton.
Coleman Legal Group, LLC’s Atlanta Georgia lawyers practice in the areas of Divorce, Family Law, Immigration, Bankruptcy and Business Law. We have two convenient offices located at:
Alpharetta Georgia Office
5755 North Point Parkway
Alpharetta, GA 30022
Atlanta Georgia Office
659 Auburn Avenue Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30312
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