The state of Georgia was one of the original 13 colonies to sign the Declaration of Independence. After the Revolutionary War, Georgia became the fourth state of the United States of America. Since then, Georgia has been on a growth spurt lasting 200 years, culminating with the title of Fastest Growing State in the American South in the 1990′s. Apparently the citizens of Georgia are utilizing the state’s divorce laws to create their own personal “declarations of independence” as evidenced by increasing numbers of divorces in the state over the last five years.
Back in 2002, Georgia was ranked with one of the lowest divorce rates in the nation with a score of 2.5 divorces per 1000 residents. At the time, Georgia was ranked as number 47 out of 50 states with highest divorce rates and was equal to Massachusetts as having the most marital stability in the nation. The distinction didn’t last long. The last five years have seen a decrease in the number of total Georgia divorces, but the rate has gone up statistically because the number of marriages in Georgia has decreased even more quickly. Georgia divorces dropped 33% from 2004 to 2009, while marriages in Georgia decreased by 42% in the same period. The result was an increase in the overall Georgia statistical divorce rate. Some researchers suggest that the declining number of divorces in the last year may be due to the fact that many Georgian couples are facing the fact that they cannot afford to legally separate in the current downward-turning economy, and are putting divorce on hold for the time being. The same reasoning can be applied to the decreasing number of marriages in Georgia as well.
Today, Massachusetts still has the lowest divorce rate in the nation, along with eight other states in the Northeast that also have comparably high rates of marital stability. In contrast, Georgia is among 10 Southern states with the highest rates of divorce in the nation. Data from the Census Bureau shows that the Southern Bible Belt states have the highest divorce rates in the country with born-again Christians within those states having the highest rates of individual divorce than people of any other denomination. Georgia joins Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas with the dubious distinction of being one of the top 10 divorce rate states today.
The rising divorce rates in Georgia and other Southern states can be attributed to several factors. Household incomes in the South are lower than the national average and people in the Southern states have been shown to marry earlier in life. These two factors affect the divorce rate negatively because people who get married later are more mature, stay in school longer, and are more likely to make better incomes. With the emphasis on education comes greater awareness of family values, and fewer divorces. Early marriage, less education and less income all contribute to Georgia’s increasing divorce rate. The increasing divorce rate in Georgia continues to have an impact on every family in the American South today.
Georgia Divorce Facts:
- Georgia allows 13 different grounds for divorce.
- Irretrievably broken is the only no fault ground for divorce in Georgia.
- Georgia’s 12 at fault grounds for divorce are: adultery, desertion, cruel treatment, blood relative, mental incapacity, impotency, fraud, pregnancy, conviction, intoxication, drug addiction and mental illness.
- Georgia requires a minimum of 6 months residency before filing for divorce.
- Upon receipt of divorce paper service, a Georgia respondent must contest the complaint within 30 days or lose the right to contest.
- Couple desiring to live apart but not get a formal divorce in Georgia can file for a Separate Maintenance action.
- An uncontested divorce in Georgia can be granted 31 days after the papers have been received by the defendant in the case.
- In Georgia, children who are over age 14 can choose which parent will have custody with the consent of the court.
- Both parents have a financial duty to support all children up until the age of 18 years in Georgia.
- In Georgia, all assets, debts and other martial property is divided equitably (not equally) by the court.