Divorce – Basic Law and Facts

Divorce – Basic Facts, Law and Information About Divorce in Georgia. Contact Joseph W. Segraves, Attorney at Law, Woodstock Kennesaw and Acworth. 770-924-7508


For a court to grant a divorce, there must be a valid marriage, the court must have jurisdiction over the parties, the parties must be living in a bona fide state separation, there must be legal grounds for the divorce and there must be a divorce suit properly filed with the court and served on the spouse. These matters of fact and law must be proven to the satisfaction of the court.

Jurisdiction Over the Parties:

A court’s jurisdiction is its power or authority to act. In Georgia, this starts with the requirement that all divorce cases be filed in a Superior Court. The second necessity for jurisdiction is that the defendant spouse be properly served with a copy of the Summons and a Complaint for Divorce. Venue is a related concept which requires that the case be filed in a court having jurisdiction over the defendant-spouse. This means that a divorce case is usually filed in the county of residence of the defendant-spouse. But a divorce case can sometimes be filed in the county where the marital residence was located. Special procedures and laws apply where the defendant-spouse resides outside the State or Georgia (“Long-arm Statute”), or where the defendant-spouse resides at an unknown location (Divorce by publication).

Georgia Residence: At least one of the spouses must have been a legal resident of the State of Georgia for at least six (6) months immediately preceding the filing of the Complaint for Divorce.

Complaint for Divorce:

A Complaint for Divorce is a civil lawsuit, and it is filed by one of the spouses in a Superior Court. The complaint briefly sets out the facts of the marriage and separation of the parties, states the basis of the court’s jurisdiction, describes the assets and income of the parties, and provides information concerning children of the parties. The complaint will also state the reasons and grounds for the divorce, and it will ask the court to grant the divorce and specific forms of legal and equitable relief to the filing party.

Service of Process:

Service of the divorce documents in an uncontested divorce is usually made by simply giving a copy of them to the defendant spouse, and he or she will acknowledge in writing that he or she received them. In a contested case, it is frequently necessary to have the Sheriff or a private process server deliver the Summons and the Complaint personally to the defendant-spouse.

Grounds for divorce:

The grounds for a divorce is the legal theory that the court must have in order to dissolve the marriage. There are thirteen (13) grounds for divorce in Georgia. The first twelve (12) grounds are often said to be fault based, and include adultery, cruel treatment, desertion and other causes for the divorce. The thirteenth (13 th) ground does not designate either party as being a cause of the divorce. It simply says that “the marriage of the parties is irretrievably broken”, and is often referred to as a no fault divorce. Basically this means that, for whatever reason, the parties can no longer live together as husband and wife. The grounds for an uncontested divorce is almost always that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”. In a contested divorce, there are sometimes reasons to allege that the divorce is sought due to one or more of the fault based grounds. This is sometimes done in addition to alleging that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Separation of the parties:

The law requires that the parties are no longer living together as husband and wife. This is a suspension of the marital relationship between the parties including company, cooperation, aid and intimacy inherent in a marriage. It does not mean that the parties must be physically living in separate residences. The bona fide state of separation must exist from before the filing of the divorce suit until after the granting of the final decree of divorce.

Issues in a Divorce Case:

A divorce suit not only seeks to dissolve the marriage of the parties, but also seeks to resolve disputed financial and personal matter at issue between the parties. The issues typically include spousal support (alimony), division of assets, child custody, child support, and child visitation.


Divorce is a difficult and frequently presents complicated legal and factual issues. An experienced attorney familiar with divorce law will provide you with the advice and guidance you need. We have the knowledge, experience and skill to assist you. We represent individuals in divorce proceedings throughout North Georgia including Woodstock, Canton, Acworth, Kennesaw, Marietta, Cartersville, Dallas, and Johns Creek. Call us today to discuss your situation.

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