There are 13 grounds for divorce in Georgia, one of which is “irretrievably broken”, Georgia’s no-fault basis for divorce. Like in several other states, Georgia law did not always recognize this ground for divorce. Instead, to seek a divorce, the party initiating the divorce had to include fault based grounds for divorce, such as adultery or desertion, in his or her divorce petition, and that claim had to be proven to the court before a divorce would be granted. Over time, states began to make changes to divorce laws, and no-fault grounds for divorce were adopted universally. However, if legislation proposed in Oklahoma, North Carolina and Kansas is any indication, the consensus regarding the approval of no-fault divorce may be changing in the United States.
In each of the three states mentioned above, legislators have either recently, or in the immediate past, introduced legislation designed to either abolish no-fault divorce in that state or impose stricter limitations on divorce. In Oklahoma, a bill was introduced this year that sought to eliminate incompatibility, which is Oklahoma’s no-fault basis for divorce, as an available grounds for divorce in the state. Although that bill did not advance out of the state House of Representatives, another bill proposed by a state senator was successful after a Senate vote, and will likely be considered by the state’s House in the near future. This proposed legislation introduced a 90-day “cooling-down period” to the divorce process in Oklahoma. This “cooling down period” would occur immediately following the filing of a divorce petition, and is designed to be a reflective period for parties to consider if divorce is truly the option they wish to take.
Similar to Oklahoma, a state legislator in Kansas, has also introduced a proposed bill that would eliminate Kansas’s no-fault grounds for divorce. In North Carolina, there is no pending legislation aimed at eliminating no-fault divorce in the state, but in 2013 three state senators introduced a bill titled the “Healthy Marriage Act.” This bill aims to replace the existing one year waiting period for a divorce in North Carolina to a two year waiting period. The bills discussed above have yet to be enacted into law in these three state, but their proposal begs the question of whether no-fault divorce is on its way out in Georgia.