Separate Maintenance is sometimes, mistakenly, referred to as “legal separation”.  “Legal separation” is a misnomer as the State of Georgia does not require a specific period of separation prior to filing for divorce. For this reason, it is usually more efficient, economical, and overall less stressful, to simply file for a divorce. A period of separation will rarely result in a reunification of the marriage.

An action for Separate Maintenance is only appropriate in select cases. Some circumstances that would call for Separate Maintenance include: a desire to keep both parties on the same insurance policy, religion that prohibits divorce, or when the parties are not yet eligible for a divorce in Georgia because they have not resided here for the requisite six months. 

As with a Petition for Divorce, a Petition for Separate Maintenance also requires the parties be living in a bona fide state of separation prior to filing (See Date of Separation handout). If the parties can agree, a Separate Maintenance Agreement is filed with the Court. Such an agreement would settle issues such as spousal support, child support, equitable division of assets, and child custody. If the parties cannot agree, the judge would issue an order in the same manner as with a Petition for Divorce.