One of the very first questions pondered by individuals seeking to file for divorce in Georgia is: Where should I file my Georgia Divorce? Or, more specifically, those considering divorce ponder: In what county should I file my Georgia divorce? First, it is important to note that in Georgia, all divorce actions must be filed in Superior Court, not State Court or Magistrate Court. Only the Superior Courts of Georgia have the jurisdiction, or authority, to hear and make determinations in divorce or other domestic relations matters.
Regarding in which specific county’s Superior Court a plaintiff (or one seeking to initiate a divorce action) should file his or her complaint, the general rule is that a plaintiff must file the Complaint for Divorce in the county where the defendant (other spouse) resides if the defendant is a resident of Georgia. O.C.G.A. §19-2-1(b). This rule applies in most situations. However, there is an exception to this rule. A Complaint for Divorce may be filed in the county where the plaintiff lives is the defendant has moved from that same county within six months from the date of the filing of the divorce action and that county was the site of the marital home at the time the parties separated. See the example below for an illustration of this exception.
Husband and Wife are contemplating divorce, but still live together in the marital home in Fulton County. Wife decides to move out, into an apartment in Forsyth County. Three (3) months later, Husband decides to file for divorce. Because the both Husband and Wife lived together in Fulton County less than six months prior to Husband filing for divorce, Husband may file his complaint in Fulton County.
Please note that the above illustrations and examples presume that both spouses are residents of Georgia. If the defendant is not a resident of Georgia, the Complaint for Divorce must be filed in the state and county where the plaintiff resides. Ga. Const. 1983, Art. VI, §II, ¶VI.
By A. Latrese Martin, Associate Attorney, Meriwether & Tharp, LLC