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Choosing Between Fault and No Fault Divorce in Georgia

Nothing about divorce is simple but if you live in Georgia, you have an extra decision to make. Should you choose a fault or a no fault divorce?

This isn't about where you put personal blame. The law doesn't really care if you tell everyone you ex is a walking nightmare, or if you politely say "things just didn't work out." In law,fault and no fault refer to legal concepts, not personal responsibility.

Like many other legal terms, if you want to use it then you have to prove it; in court that is. What you have to prove in divorce is specific to what you choose.

The Requirements of Fault Divorce

Georgia has 12 different categories for what is called “fault divorce.” That refers to a divorce where the parties claim a specific reason for ending the marriage.

That can include adultery, abandonment, cruelty, or criminal conviction. Fraud, impotence, alcohol or drug addiction, and mental incapacity can also be grounds for a divorce.

Filing a fault divorce isn’t about name calling. If you claim specific grounds as the reason for your divorce, you have to prove it to the court.

No Fault Divorce - The Alternative

Since 1973, Georgia has recognized a 13th ground for filing divorce - an irretrievably broken marriage.

Some states call this irreconcilable differences, but the meaning is the same. It’s a claim that the marriage isn’t working without giving a specific reason.

If you file a no fault divorce you and your ex don’t have to prove anything to legally separate. You just have to figure out the details of your split.

Why Choose Fault?

If you choose a grounds for your divorce, you have to go through the process of proving it to the court. That may seem like it’s just making more work, but it could make a big difference in your divorce.

That’s because Georgia courts determine alimony differently depending on what grounds are proven for the divorce. Bad behavior by one spouse often means higher payments to the other.

These are all issues you’ll want to talk over with your lawyer before filing for divorce. But it’s good to keep in mind that there are options.

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