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.

Grounds

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.

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Residency

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.

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What if My Wife in New York State Refuses to Divorce Me?

References

Related articles

Can Both Spouses File for Divorce?

Some lawyers will tell you that there's no legal advantage in being the first spouse to file for divorce, although depending on the details of your particular case, it may give you a strategic edge. However, if your spouse beats you to the courthouse, all isn't lost. You can file a counterclaim of your own, which is essentially a complaint in response to your spouse's filing.

What Happens When You Are Served Divorce Papers?

Most people are not able to think clearly in the hours or even days after they receive divorce papers. Although the laws are slightly different from state to state, most courts understand this and give you time to respond. You don’t necessarily have to act immediately, but you must do something eventually if you’re going to protect your rights. No state forces a spouse to stay married just because her partner does not respond to her divorce petition -- she’ll just move forward with the proceedings and obtain her divorce without the spouse's participation.

How to Stop a Divorce After the Papers Have Been Filed

If you’re not the spouse who filed for divorce, you probably can’t stop the process. You can contest the grounds your spouse cites in her divorce petition and you can argue custody and property settlement, but no state will force her to remain married to you if she doesn’t want to. If you filed the divorce petition, however, you can usually stop the process, especially if you change your mind early in the proceedings.

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