Separate Maintenance in Georgia

Separate Maintenance in Georgia

What is Separate Maintenance?

Separate Maintenance is a legal arrangement in Georgia for a married couple to remain legally married but live apart.

Legal Separatation in Georgia

In Georgia, what is commonly referred to as "legal separation" is known as "separate maintenance.". The purpose of separate maintenance is to allow a legally married couple to live separately without going through a divorce process. Hiring a divorce lawyer to create and file a Separate Maintenance Agreement is how to formally enact a separation in Georgia.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce in Georgia

The bottom line is: a divorce decree terminates a marriage and legal separation agreement does not. Both forms of separating from your spouse involve a legal manner to set the terms of your relationship. Anyone living as legally separated is still legally married.

Can I date while separated? The short answer is dating (having sexual relations) while still married is legally viewed as adultery. If you move forward into a divorce, and adultery can be proven, it can adversely affect the outcome of your divorce.

Is Separation Required to Get a Divorce?

Per the DivorceNet website, "In some states, spouses who want a no-fault divorce must live apart (separate) for a period of time. In Georgia, however, there is no legal requirement that spouses live separately before they can get a divorce. After filing your documents and providing a copy to your spouse, Georgia law requires the court to wait a minimum of 30 days before scheduling a final divorce hearing." 1

Legal Requirements for Separate Maintenance

What are the requirements? An informational pdf documnet published by offers this information, "In Georgia, you may file for separate maintenance if you have a valid marriage and you are living in a bona fide state of separation. There can be no pending action for divorce—if there is, your complaint for separate maintenance will be dismissed." 2

To file for separate maintenance in Georgia the following conditions must exist:

  • Specific paperwork must be prepared and filed with your county court
  • One or both spouses must have residency in Georgia for at least six months
  • The couple must maintain separate residences or, at minimum, not be engaged in marital relations.

Great Tip. An article on WikiHow offers a tip that can save you ,and perhaps time, when pursuing a separation. Their advice is, "The separate maintenance process will be a lot less time-consuming and complex if you and your spouse are able to agree on how marital property should be divided. If you have children, you’ll also need to work on a parenting plan." 3

Technically, you can be deemed to be legally separated if the spouses no longer share a marital bed or establish different residences, and have the intention to file divorce. However, without a formal "Separate Maintenance Agreement" you do not have critical legal protections.

Be aware that having physical relations with your spouse can complicate the legal standing and enforcement of the Agreement. Having physical relations with anyone else would likely have an adverse affect on your situation if you pursue a divorce.

Benefits of Legal Separation in Georgia

In Georgia, the legal system allows for the creation of a Separate Maintenance Agreement. This allows the spouses to live separately yet formally address issues such as child custody, support, and alimony without terminating the marriage. Here is why some people choose to get a Separate Maintenance Agreement in Georgia:

A Separate Maintenance Agreement provides a legal manner to address important parts of a couple’s life without dissolving the marriage.

Here are some compelling reasons why you may choose to pursue legal separation in Georgia:

  • Financial Reasons: Some couples may opt for legal separation due to financial considerations. It allows them to maintain certain financial benefits such as healthcare or tax advantages while living separately.
  • Religious or Personal Beliefs: For individuals whose religious or personal beliefs discourage divorce, legal separation provides a way to live apart without violating these principles.
  • Trial Period: Legal separation can serve as a trial period for couples who are unsure about whether they want to permanently end their marriage. It allows them to experience separation without the finality of divorce.
  • Healthcare Benefits: In some cases, one spouse may need ongoing healthcare coverage from the other spouse’s employer. Legal separation can allow the dependent spouse to continue receiving these benefits.
  • Child Custody and Support: Legal separation can also address issues related to child custody and support without finalizing the divorce. It provides a legal framework for parenting arrangements and financial responsibilities.
  • Social or Cultural Factors: In certain cultures or communities, divorce may carry a stigma. Legal separation can be a more socially acceptable option while still allowing the couple to live separately.
  • Residency Requirements: Some jurisdictions may have residency requirements for divorce, and legal separation may be pursued as an interim measure until the couple meets the necessary criteria for divorce.
  • Emotional or Marital Issues: Couples facing significant marital problems may choose legal separation as a step towards reconciliation or to provide space for personal growth and reflection.

Closing Thoughts on Separate Maintenance

It’s important to note that the specific reasons for seeking legal separation can vary widely among individuals, and each situation is unique. Legal separation does not dissolve the marriage, so couples may later decide to reconcile or proceed with a formal divorce.

A separation period provides time for you and your spouse to think deeply about what you want for yourselves. You may find this time to think can help you save your marriage. If you agree that a divorce is your best option, you will have time to calmly discuss and plan the terms of your divorce settlement agreement.

If you are considering legal separation or divorce in Georgia, you should consult with a legal separation attorney to determine if this is a good move for you.


  • 1 Lisa Guering and Melissa Heinig, "Divorce and Legal Separation in Georgia", DATE, Available from
  • 2 Staff Writer, "Instructions for Separate Maintenance Packet", March 17, 2021, Available from Southern Judicial Circuit
  • 3 Jennifer Mueller, "How to File for Separation in Georgia", January 31, 2023, Available from WikiHow
  • Photo by RDNE Stock, available at Pexels
Jimmy Duncan
James Hobson is a digital marketing professional with 25 years of experience in web development, search engine optimization, local search and online advertising. James has over 40 years of sales and marketing experience ranging from entrepreneur to senior management for start-ups, SMB, and Fortune 100 companies. James has specific business expertise with advertising agency, law firm, service trade, manufacturing, construction and industrial sectors. He has been a sales and marketing speaker for events, and is a frequent contributing author for law and business blogs under the nom de plume Jimmy Duncan.

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