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Marriage

Information

How do you get married in Georgia?

There are two ways to marry in Georgia. First, you can be married in a civil ceremony before a judge or magistrate.

Second, you can be married in a religious ceremony by a minister or other member of clergy.

In both cases, a marriage license must be obtained before the marriage ceremony. After the marriage ceremony, the person performing the ceremony will fill out a form so you can get a marriage certificate. The marriage certificate is the official proof of your marriage. If the person performing the ceremony does not complete the form, you will need two witnesses to the ceremony in order to obtain the marriage certificate.

Who can marry in Georgia?

You can marry if you meet these four (4) requirements:

1) You are of "sound mind" or you are mentally able to decide whether or not you want to marry someone;

2) You are at least 18 years old. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you can marry if your parent(s) consent(s);

3) You are not married;

4) You are not closely related, by blood or marriage, to the person you intend to marry.

 

What about common law marriage?

As of January 1, 1997, couples may no longer create new common law marriages in Georgia. However, if a common law marriage was created before January 1, 1997, the marriage is still valid. Common law marriage requires that the parties 1) be able to marry in Georgia (see above); 2) intend to marry each other and then act as if they are married; and 3) "consummate" the marriage (see below). There is no common law divorce. Parties to a common law marriage must obtain a divorce through the courts just like other married couples.What if the marriage was never consummated?

Under Georgia law, a marriage is considered consummated if the parties obtain a marriage license and a judge or clergy member performed the ceremony. Sexual relations between the parties is not required to create a valid ceremonial marriage, but is required in common law marriage.What if I was forced to marry or my spouse lied to me so that I would agree to marry?

In order for a marriage to be valid, both parties must voluntarily agree to marry. If fraud or coercion is involved, the marriage can be voided or annulled. An annulment is a statement by a court that a marriage was invalid from the beginning. You can also obtain an annulment if one spouse did not meet one of the five requirements listed above at the time of the marriage. You must, however, obtain a divorce, rather than an annulment, if any children are born as a result of the marriage.

Separation

A separation means one spouse intends to be separate from the other and no longer acts as a spouse. The parties do not have to live in separate homes to be separated. It is enough that one spouse sleeps in another room with the intention to be separated. The parties cannot, however, continue having sexual relations with each other.

If you are separated, but do not want to be divorced, you can file a case to establish you and your spouse's rights and obligations to each other during the separation. This is called a "separate maintenance action" and it must be filed in Superior Court. If you file a separate maintenance action, your spouse may respond by asking the court to change the action to a divorce action.

Last Review and Update: Oct 15, 2018