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Understanding the meaning of separation in a Georgia divorce

The decision to divorce is a major one, and most married couples think long and hard before deciding if they want to dissolve their marriage. Since divorce is a decision that should not be made hastily, many states require spouses to be separated for a certain period before a divorce can be filed.

Georgia is not one of these states. Although there is no required length of time couples must be separated before filing for divorce, Georgia law does state that couples must be separated. So, what exactly does this mean?

You do not need to move out of your house to be separated

Being separated from your spouse in Georgia does not mean one of you has to move out of the marital residence. Sometimes, practical or financial reasons make that difficult or impossible.

To be considered separated, you and your spouse must maintain separate households within the marital residence. You must also cease all sexual relations with one another.

Try to agree on a separation date

If you and your spouse decide to become separated while continuing to live under the same roof, you should both agree to a specific date the separation starts. The agreement does not have to be in writing, although putting it in writing can help prevent future confusion or conflict.

You may wonder exactly how to maintain separate households while still physically living in the same space. Having separate bedrooms or sleeping areas and showing an intent to end your marriage are typically enough to prove separation.

What to do if your spouse doesn’t agree to separate

Many situations involve one spouse who is ready to end the marriage, while one is not. Legal separation only requires one spouse to move out of the bedroom with an intent to end the marriage.

Therefore, if your spouse does not agree to separate, and you cannot afford to move out of the house, move into another bedroom. You may then file a divorce petition stating that you are separated, no longer having sexual relations and intend to end your marriage.

Although the law allows you to become separated from your spouse while still living

together, these types of situations can quickly become messy, especially if your spouse will not acknowledge your separation. An experienced divorce attorney can help with proving separation and any next steps.