A Man and Woman sitting on opposite sides

While each one of Divorce, Separation and Annulment will end a marriage, the Thr processes do not accomplish the dissolution in the same way. 

What is a divorce?

A divorce is a legal decree that ends a marriage before the death of either spouse. During a divorce proceeding, a court may resolve issues of child custody, division of assets, and spousal support or alimony. After a divorce becomes final, the parties are no longer legally bound to one another, and are free to remarry or enter into a domestic partnership with another person.

What are the legal grounds for divorce?

Spouses may choose to file for a “no-fault” or “fault-based” divorce.

No-Fault Divorce. No-fault divorce statutes allow a spouse to file for divorce without blaming the other spouse for the dissolution. Grounds for a no-fault divorce may include irreconcilable differences, irremediable breakdown, and loss of affection.

Fault-Based Divorce. Georgia also allows parties to obtain fault-based divorces. Grounds for a fault-based divorce include adultery, abandonment, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol abuse. Spouses may choose to obtain a fault-based divorce to avoid a required waiting period, or to influence the court’s decisions regarding child custody, child support, alimony, and division of assets.

What is the difference between a divorce and an annulment of marriage?

An annulment of marriage is a legal decree that a marriage is null and void. Annulments are granted when a court makes a finding a marriage is invalid. While a divorce ends a legally valid marriage, an annulment treats the marriage as if it never existed. The end result of an annulment is the same as a divorce—the parties are single and may remarry or enter into a domestic partnership with another person. 

What are the grounds for obtaining an annulment?

An annulment may be obtained for one of the following reasons:

Intermarriage between the parties, such as intermarriage between a son and mother;

One of the parties is under 16 years old;

The marriage was the result of force, fraud, or physical or mental incapacity; or, 

The marriage took place when one or both spouses were already married or in a registered domestic partnership.

What is the difference between divorce and separation legally?

A legal separation is a judicially recognized separation between spouses. A legal separation does not end the marriage, and both spouses are prohibited from remarrying or entering into a domestic partnership with another person. Simply living apart or agreeing to separate for a period of time does not constitute a legal separation in Georgia. During the period of legal separation, a spouse may be awarded spousal support, child support, temporary custody, and/or temporary use of property.

How do I determine whether annulment, divorce, or separation is the best choice for me?

Deciding whether to obtain a divorce, annulment, or legal separation is a personal decision. However, not all procedures are equally available to all individuals. The grounds for obtaining an annulment are often very limited. If a union does not qualify for annulment, a couple must determine whether to separate or file for a divorce. 

Do I need a lawyer to obtain a divorce, separation or annulment?

Although you are not legally required to hire a lawyer before obtaining a divorce, legal separation, or annulment, couples should consider retaining legal representation to guide them through the complexities of divorce such as child custody, spousal support and division of assets. Now, more than ever, it is essential for you to have the counsel of an informed and diligent attorney such as Crystal Wright advocating on your behalf.

Please contact Attorney Crystal Wright (csw@crystalwrightlaw.com) at (404) 594-2143