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DIY Divorce Guide

Georgia Divorce Information Reference Guide

Complete divorce guide with state requirements and laws.
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Georgia Divorce: Basics and Overview

This is a quick and easy guide to the basics of the uncontested divorce process in Georgia.

  • Georgia’s residency requirement for divorce: If you want to get a divorce in Georgia, you or your spouse must be a state resident for at least six months immediately before you file the initial divorce papers. You may also meet the residency requirement if you were stationed in Georgia as a member of the military for a full year before the filing date. (Ga. Code § 19-5-2 (2022).)
  • No-fault grounds for divorce in Georgia: To get a no-fault divorce in Georgia, you must declare that your marriage is “irretrievably broken,” which basically means that you can’t get along and there’s no reasonable prospect of that changing. This is the only legally accepted reason (or “ground”) for divorce in Georgia that’s not based on a claim that your spouse is to blame for the end of your marriage because of certain misconduct. (Ga. Code § 19-5-3 (2022).) If you want to get an uncontested divorce (and use Georgia 3StepDivorce™), you and your spouse must agree on this no-fault ground.
  • Requirements for uncontested divorce: Along with meeting Georgia’s residency requirement and agreeing with your spouse that your marriage is irretrievably broken, the basic requirement for an uncontested divorce is that you and your spouse agree about all of the issues involved in ending your marriage, including alimony, dividing your property and debts, and all matters related to any minor or dependent children you have (more on those issues below). When you file for an uncontested divorce, include your signed marital settlement agreement with the other forms.
  • Timeline for uncontested divorce in Georgia: Georgia has a short waiting period before a judge will grant your final uncontested, no-fault divorce. The waiting period is generally 31 days after your spouse receives a copy of the divorce papers (more below on how that works), or 46 days after that if your spouse doesn’t file an answer to the divorce complaint. (Ga. Unif. Super. Ct. Rules, rule 24.6 (2022).) In practice, your divorce could take two months or more, depending on the availability of a judge to review your paperwork. And if a judge decides that you need to attend a court hearing, it could take a few months to get a hearing scheduled—again, depending on the backlog of cases at the court where you file for divorce.
  • Separation requirements for divorce in Georgia? There is no requirement in Georgia law that couples live apart before they can get divorced in the state.
  • Legal terms used in Georgia divorce cases: Some Georgia laws use the term “total divorce,” which means the same thing as divorce. The laws and forms often use different terms for the spouses. The spouse who files the initial divorce complaint is known as either the “petitioner” or the “plaintiff,” and the other spouse is the “respondent” or “defendant.” Some Georgia rules and forms refer to the settlement agreement as a “separation agreement.”
  • Where to file for divorce in Georgia: When you’re the one who’s starting the divorce process, you’ll generally file the divorce papers with the Superior Court Clerk for the county where your spouse lives. But you may file in the county where you live if your spouse lives out of state or moved within the past six months out of the county where the two of you lived as a couple, as long as you still live there. (Ga. Const., Art. VI, Sec. II, Par. 1.)
  • Main divorce papers to file: The main forms you’ll file to start your uncontested divorce are the divorce complaint, your settlement agreement (signed by both spouses in the presence of a notary), and the final judgment and decree of divorce. If you have minor children, you’ll also file child support worksheets and your parenting plan. There are additional forms that provide general information about your case. Georgia 3StepDivorce™ will provide all the statewide forms you need, completed based on your answers to our online questionnaire.
  • Requirements for serving a spouse with divorce papers: In Georgia, you must serve your spouse with the divorce papers and file proof with the court that you’ve done so. The easiest way to do this is simply to hand over or mail the documents, have your spouse sign an “acknowledgment of service” form, and file that form with your complaint and other papers. Otherwise, you’ll have to get a summons from the court clerk when you file your paperwork and then arrange to have the sheriff or another adult (who’s not connected with your divorce) hand deliver the documents to your spouse. (Ga. Code §§ 9-10-73, 9-11-4 (2022).)
  • Georgia Child Support Guidelines: Georgia uses child support guidelines to calculate how much parents should pay to support their children. The guidelines are complicated, but they’re largely based on how much both parents earn. Judges may order support amounts that differ from the guideline calculation, but only if they find that applying the guideline would be “unjust or inappropriate,” and that the different amounts would serve the children’s best interests. (Ga. Code § 19-6-15 (2022).)
  • Georgia 3StepDivorce™ provides the worksheets for calculating child support under Georgia’s guideline. You and your spouse may agree to an amount of child support that differs from the guideline amount, but the judge will review your agreement to determine if the amount of support is adequate. (Ga. Code § 19-6-15(c)(6) (2022).)
  • Georgia rules on child custody: Whether parents have agreed on custody-related issues for their children or a judge has to decide for them, Georgia child custody laws require that the parenting plan serves the children’s best interests. (Ga. Code § 19-9-3 (2022).)
  • Georgia rules on property division: Georgia uses the “equitable distribution” rule for dividing marital property and allocating marital debts between you and your spouse when you get divorced. That means the judge will decide what’s fair under the circumstances of each case. This won’t necessarily result in a 50-50 split between the spouses (as in “community property” states like Texas). You and your spouse may agree on a fair way to divide your property and decide who will pay your outstanding debts.
  • Parenting class requirements: Judges in some Georgia counties may require you to take an educational seminar on parenting during divorce and the effects of divorce on children. Even in counties where this class is normally mandated, judges may waive the requirement for a good reason in individual cases, or they may let you participate in counseling as an alternative to the class. (Ga. Unif. Super. Ct. Rules, rule 24.8 (2022).)
  • Financial disclosure requirements in uncontested Georgia divorces: As long as you’ve filed a complete settlement agreement with your initial divorce papers, you and your spouse won’t have to exchange and filethe financial affidavits that are normally required in Georgia divorces. (Ga. Unif. Super. Ct. Rules, rule 24.2 (2022).) Basically, the rule assumes that you and your spouse already shared information about your income and assets when you negotiated your settlement agreement.
  • Hearing requirements to finalize divorce in Georgia: When you have an uncontested divorce, you may be able to get your final divorce without a hearing by filing a “Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings,” asking to have your settlement agreement incorporated in the divorce judgment. Typically, a judge will review your agreement and other paperwork, and if everything is in order, will sign your final divorce decree. However, the judge might still require you to attend a hearing if there are any questions about your case.
  • Default divorce in Georgia: Georgia does not allow default divorce proceedings. In an uncontested divorce, when you’ve filed your settlement agreement along with the complaint, it doesn’t make a difference if your spouse doesn’t file a formal answer to the complaint. The judge will generally decide whether to approve your agreement and sign your decree based on the information in all the documents you’ve filed. Otherwise, the judge will hold a hearing to consider other evidence. The same is true in a contested divorce when the respondent doesn’t file an answer: The judge will have to consider the evidence before deciding whether to grant the requests you’ve made in the divorce complaint. (Ga. Code §§ 19-5-8, 19-5-10 (2022).)
  • Georgia laws and rules on divorce: Georgia Code §§ 19-5-1 through 19-5-17 (divorce in general), 19-6-1 through 19-6-36 (alimony and child support), 19-9-1 through 19-9-104 (child custody); Georgia Uniform Superior Court Rules, rules 24.1 through 24.12 (domestic relations).
  • Divorce records: In general, you may request a verification of your divorce from Georgia’s State Office of Vital Records by mail, in person, or online. However, the copies of your final divorce decree are kept by the superior court clerk in the county where your divorce took place, so you’ll have to check with the clerk’s office or website to request those records. Typically, you can request the records by mail or in person.


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