Grounds for Divorce in Georgia

There are 13 statutory grounds for divorce in Georgia and they are codified in O.C.G.A. 19-5-3.

The grounds for divorce in Georgia are:

  1. Intermarriage by persons within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity
  2. Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage
  3. Impotency at the time of marriage
  4. Force, menace, duress, or fraud in obtaining the marriage
  5. Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband, at the time of the marriage, unknown by the husband
  6. Adultery in either of the parties after the marriage
  7. Willful and continued desertion by either of the parties for a term of one year
  8. The conviction of either party for an offense involving moral turpitude and under which he or she is sentenced to imprisonment in a penal institution for a term of two years of longer
  9. Habitual intoxication
  10. Cruel treatment
  11. Incurable mental illness
  12. Habitual drug addiction
  13. The marriage is irretrievably broken

The most common grounds for divorce in Georgia are adultery, desertion, cruel treatment, and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Irretrievably Broken

This is the most common ground for divorce in Georgia. In uncontested divorces where the parties do not wish to highlight fault, parties use this ground for divorce. A marriage is irretrievably broken when either or both parties are unable or refuse to cohabitate, and there are no prospects for a reconciliation. (See Harwell v. Harwell). Only one party needs to want a divorce in Georgia to have a divorce granted. One side cannot “refuse to give” the divorce in Georgia. It is not necessary for the parties to show that there was fault on the part of either party to obtain a divorce in Georgia. The parties simply have to state their marital differences are too great, and there is no hope for reconciliation, and they can be granted a divorce.

Cruel Treatment

A second common ground for divorce in Georgia is cruel treatment. In order to prove this ground one must show the willful infliction of pain, bodily or mental, upon the complaining party, such as reasonably justifies apprehension of danger to life, limb, or health.

Adultery

Adultery is a common ground for divorce in Georgia. A person commits adultery when they engage in sexual intercourse with a person other than his or her spouse during the marriage. Adultery can be proven by direct or circumstantial evidence. It can be very difficult to prove adultery in a divorce, and consulting with the attorneys at Bivek Brubaker & Prescott on how best to accomplish this task can help decide whether or not to assert this ground for divorce. If proven, adultery is a bar to receiving alimony in Georgia.

It is oftentimes smart practice to assert irretrievably broken as a ground for divorce in your initial divorce filing, and reserve your right to assert additional grounds for the divorce should they be needed in the future. A divorce filing is a public document and can be looked up by children in the future, and so very carefully choosing which specific grounds for divorce to assert is an extremely important part of the divorce process. Overstating grounds that cannot be proven can be damaging and can also harm negotiations. Understating grounds can be ineffective for negotiating purposes. It is important that you consult with the attorneys at Bivek Brubaker & Prescott about the grounds for divorce, which ones to assert in the divorce filing, and how they can best be proven. Conduct plays a factor in dividing assets and debts, and asserting different grounds for divorce can play a role in educating the Court about conduct of the spouses.