Where to File for Divorce in Georgia?

To get a divorce in the state of Georgia, one of the spouses must file appropriate initial paperwork with the Superior Court Clerk’s office in the right jurisdiction and venue defined by the relevant statutes. As per the state law, a petitioner must be a Georgia bona fide resident for at least 6 months before filing the Complaint for the court to have jurisdiction over the case. Moreover, for the court’s orders to have binding power over the respondent, the case must be commenced in the county where they reside or where the plaintiff resides if the defendant is nonresident. Exceptions and other terms can be found in the Georgia Long Arm Statute.

What Court Handles Divorces in Georgia?

To file for divorce in Georgia, the petitioner must submit the Complaint to the Superior Court Family Division in the right county stipulated in the corresponding statute. While the Superior Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal lawsuits, Georgia family courts have the power to hear and issue orders in all cases concerning domestic relations, including matters of divorces, annulments, and separations, child custody, visitation, and support, domestic violence, adoption, paternity, parental rights, etc.

Jurisdiction in Georgia Divorces

Jurisdiction means the legal authority of a specific entity to administer justice. In other words, the court must have the power to hear a certain case, which is subject-matter jurisdiction, and the power to issue binding orders on certain individuals, which is personal jurisdiction.

In Georgia, the superior courts have jurisdiction for divorce cases. Besides, according to OCGA 19-5-2, the petitioner must have been a bona fide state resident for at least 6 months before filing the Complaint for Divorce.

Personal jurisdiction over nonresidents is governed by the Georgia Long Arm Statute, which is OCGA 9-10-91. Georgia superior courts may have the power to issue binding orders on the defendant who lives outside the state if they maintain a matrimonial domicile in Georgia when the action is commenced or lived here before the action was initiated.

Venue in Georgia Divorces

Georgia venue statute defines the locality where a certain lawsuit may be started or filed. It is a county for state courts or a district or division for federal courts. In divorce cases, the venue is usually the county where either party lives or the dispute arises.

According to the divorce requirements for the state of Georgia, the Complaint for Divorce must be filed in the county where the defendant lives. If the other party moved within 6 months of the filing date, the case may be commenced in the county where they both lived. The petitioner may also file in their county if the defendant lives in another state now.