Where you get a divorce doesn't depend on where you got married. It depends on where you live at the time you file. The state where you file must have jurisdiction over your matter to grant you a divorce, and this is legally achieved if you live there. You can also usually file in the state where your spouse resides.
Georgia Residency Requirements
Georgia requires that you live in the state for at least six months before you can file for divorce. If you and your spouse relocated to Georgia together, or if you moved there on your own after you separated, one of you must be a resident for six continuous months before you can file. This means you can’t live in Georgia for six months, return to South Carolina, then go back to Georgia. The six months must lead up to the date you file. If you're living in Georgia because you’re stationed on a military base there, you must wait a year.
When you complete and sign your complaint for divorce, you attest under oath that you’ve lived in the state for six months. This is usually enough for the court. However, if you spouse contests the divorce by saying that you haven’t lived in Georgia that long, or if he alleges that you really still live with him in South Carolina, a judge might ask you for additional proof of your residency. You can provide this with a Georgia’s driver’s license, proof of employment or by establishing a relationship with a local physician or medical care provider. The more kinds of proof you have, the better.
Effect on Divorce Grounds
Georgia recognizes no-fault divorce, so you can file on grounds that your marriage is irretrievably broken after you’ve lived there for six months. There is no waiting period if you want to use this option. However, you might have to wait a little longer to file for divorce if you use other grounds. For example, if you want to file on grounds of desertion because you and your spouse moved to Georgia together, then he abandoned you, he must remain gone for a period of a year before you can file.
If you have not lived in Georgia for six months and you don’t want to wait to establish residency so you can file for divorce, you may have another alternative. If your spouse stayed behind in South Carolina, if he still resides there and that was where you lived when you were married, you can also file for divorce in that state. You don’t have to personally live in South Carolina to file for divorce if your spouse has resided there for at least a year.
Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.