In order to obtain a divorce in Georgia, at least one of the parties must meet Georgia residency requirements for divorce. Meeting Georgia’s residency requirements is rarely a concern except for those spouses who have recently moved to Georgia or are planning to move in the near future. If residency requirements are not met, the Georgia court does not have jurisdiction to hear the divorce case.
A Georgia Superior Court will only have subject matter jurisdiction if one of the divorcing parties was a “bona fide” resident of Georgia for six months prior to the filing of the divorce action. Otherwise, a Georgia court may not grant a divorce. A nonresident of Georgia may file a petition for divorce in the county of residence of the respondent, against any person who has been a resident of Georgia and of the county in which an action is brought for a period of six months prior to the filing of the petition.
Any person who has been a resident of any United States army post or military reservation within Georgia for one year prior to the filing of a petition may bring an action for divorce in any county adjacent to the United States army post or military reservation. A member of the military may also meet the “bona fide resident” test to meet the residency requirements.
A bona fide resident of Georgia is someone who considers Georgia as their domicile. As used in OCGA § 19–5–2, “resident” means “domiciliary.” Conrad v. Conrad, 278 Ga. 107, 108 (2004). Domicile simply means actual residence coupled with intent to remain in Georgia. Williams v. Williams, 226 Ga. 734 (1970). A court determines domicile based upon information such looking at the state where the party:
- possesses a driver’s license;
- is registered to vote;
- lists a residence on a tax return; and
- owns or rents a home.
Because these factors may involve different states rather than one consistent, common one, determining residency based upon domicile may be more difficult than expected. If you are considering filing for a divorce and have questions about residency requirements, call 770-246-1331 or e-mail the Parker Law Firm to schedule a consultation to discuss this or any family law issue.