Can You Refuse to Give Your Spouse a Divorce in Georgia?
By Heather Frances J.D.
Your spouse may file for divorce, believing the marriage is over, but even if you aren’t ready to divorce just yet, it’s really not possible to refuse to divorce your spouse in any state, including Georgia. You can slow down the divorce process, but eventually the divorce will go through, even if your spouse has to refile the case to make it happen.
Georgia offers both fault-based and no-fault reasons -- or grounds -- for divorce. Fault-based grounds require the filing spouse to prove to the court that the grounds exist. For example, if your spouse files for divorce based on adultery, she must prove that you committed adultery. If she does not provide enough evidence, or if you successfully dispute her evidence, the court may dismiss the divorce case for lack of proof. However, she can refile her case based on the no-fault ground of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, which does not require significant proof.
Service of Process
Generally, your spouse must serve you with a copy of the complaint she filed with the court, and the court will not allow the case to go forward without proper service. You can attempt to dodge service by avoiding the process server or sheriff who comes to give you the papers. However, eventually, they will probably be able to serve you. Even if you successfully dodge service, Georgia law allows an alternate method of service -- by publishing notice in the newspaper -- so the divorce will eventually proceed.
Georgia law requires either you or your spouse to have been a resident for at least six months before your spouse files her complaint. If this residency requirement was not met, you can raise this issue to the court, and the court may dismiss the case. However, this won’t stop the divorce either since your spouse could file again when either of you has lived in Georgia for the required six months.
Contesting Divorce Terms
You can also contest the terms your spouse proposed in her complaint, such as property division, custody and spousal support. Disagreement about these terms can slow the divorce process considerably. However, the divorce will eventually be granted once the court reaches a decision on each disputed matter.
Heather Frances has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in law reviews, local newspapers and online. Frances holds a Bachelor of Arts in social studies education from the University of Wyoming and a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School.