Alternatives to Divorce in Georgia: Separate Maintenance
What is Separate Maintenance?
Separate maintenance is a domestic relations action in Georgia that may be filed by either spouse. An action for separate maintenance is similar to a divorce action in that it results in the resolution of all the issues that would be settled in the event of divorce. However, separate maintenance is different from divorce in that, although the parties will be separated, the marriage is not completely dissolved.
Who may take advantage of this option?
First, in order to seek separate maintenance, a valid marriage must exist. Thus, the parties must be legally married. Second, the parties must be living separately, in a bona fide state of separation. Third, there must be no pending action for divorce between the parties. A pending action for divorce between the parties will supersede any action for separate maintenance that either party attempts to initiate.
Is this the best option in your case?
Separate maintenance is the perfect option for couples who do not wish to totally sever their marital bond, but who find it difficult to maintain a marital household together, because separate maintenance resolves the matters of child support, alimony, and other issues that may be determined during divorce proceedings via a court order, without actually resulting in the parties becoming divorced. Often, couples who have moral, religious, or ideological disagreements with divorce seek this option in lieu of divorce. Also, couples who need to remain married for purposes of health coverage or other benefits, but who do not wish to continue residing together in a marital home, seek orders for separate maintenance. If you believe that separate maintenance may be the best solution for your case, and would like further information regarding initiating a separate maintenance suit, call and speak with one of the knowledgeable family law professionals at Meriwether & Tharp, LLC. We would be happy to be of assistance.
By A. Latrese Martin, Associate Attorney, Meriwether & Tharp, LLC