Separate Maintenance Decree
A separate maintenance decree or agreement accomplishes many of the same things that divorce accomplishes, but allows the two spouses to live apart and still remain married. It essentially acts as a Legal Separation, although it is not referred to as that. You can settle child custody, child support, alimony, property division, and more—all with a separate maintenance decree while avoiding divorce. A separate maintenance agreement allows spouses to maintain health insurance benefits, enjoy tax breaks, pool their money, and more. Another benefit of separate maintenance decrees is time. Under Georgia code 19-5-3, divorce proceedings cannot begin until a 30-day “cooling off” period has concluded. This waiting period does not apply for a separate maintenance action, which, in addition, may take less time overall.
Criteria for Maintenance Decree in Georgia
Under O.C.G.A. 19-6-10 (2010), the following are necessities for a separate maintenance decree in Georgia:
- A marriage must exist between the two parties;
- The parties must be living separately;
- There is no pending action for divorce.
How to File for Legal Separation in Georgia
Now that you know what a separate maintenance decree is, you need to know how to file and prepare for it. Just because a separate maintenance agreement is not a divorce, does not mean that it will be simple. Separate maintenance agreements are often complicated, spouses may not be quite as agreeable as they initially thought they would be, and all documentation needs to be legally binding and in perfect order to present to the court. Working with an attorney is highly recommended over the do-it-yourself online version.