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Legal Separation


It is an unfortunate fact that many marriages break down. While not every marital problem leads to divorce, you may decide that you should separate from your spouse either temporarily or permanently. In Georgia, it is possible to obtain a legal separation from your spouse without divorce through a procedure called Separate Maintenance. If you are considering this option, Rowsey & Stelter can assist you. We have helped individuals in the Atlanta area and beyond for over two decades in a variety of family law matters, including legal separation.


For many reasons, a married couple that does not wish to live together as man and wife will opt to legally separate. It may be that, for religious reasons, divorce is not an acceptable option. Or they may want to leave open the possibility of reconciliation, they may want to retain or protect certain marital assets or benefits, or they may be unsure whether they want the finality of a divorce at the current time. Whatever the situation, they still need to find a way to reach agreement as to how they will provide for themselves and any children while maintaining separate households. The way to do this in Georgia is through Separate Maintenance.

An important distinction between divorce and Separate Maintenance is that, no matter how long a couple may have been separated under such an agreement, and no matter how estranged they may be, they remain legally married. This means that neither spouse may legally remarry, and that laws applying to spouses regarding inheritance, taxation, Social Security, and other matters will continue to apply. At the same time, with a Separate Maintenance order in place, neither spouse bears responsibility for the actions of the other spouse, although it is important to make appropriate arrangements in this regard as to financial matters. For example, if a legally separated spouse fails to remove his or her name from accounts, credit cards, promissory notes, or other debt instruments, that spouse may find himself or herself liable for any unpaid or delinquent debts incurred by the other spouse, even after they are legally separated.


Separate Maintenance proceedings have many of the same hallmarks as divorce proceedings in terms of paperwork, filing fees, negotiations, and, if applicable, contested proceedings. However, legal separation generally can be arranged in a more expeditious manner. And, unlike in divorce, the spouses need only to have lived in Georgia for 30 days in order to file for Separate Maintenance. Either spouse may file for Separate Maintenance when the spouses have voluntarily decided to separate, or if one of the spouses has left or driven the other out of a joint residence.

Like divorce, Separate Maintenance agreements cover such matters as spousal support, child custody, child visitation, child support, and allocation of joint property. When spouses separate, they can, as in divorce, develop their own agreement regarding these matters. If they agree, and if the agreement seems reasonable and fair, it is likely that the court will grant the Separate Maintenance order according to their wishes. If the spouses cannot agree, any contested issues can be brought before the court for a hearing, in which both sides can present their arguments and the final decision is left in the hands of the presiding judge.

Once all matters are resolved, the court will issue a Separate Maintenance order that contains the terms of the legal separation.


If you need assistance with Separate Maintenance, contact Rowsey & Stelter. We can help you understand what is involved in a legal separation, help you work out or negotiate an acceptable and equitable agreement, take care of filing requirements, and even represent you in any contested proceedings. Our firm serves clients not only in Atlanta, but also in other communities such as Alpharetta, Roswell, and Johns Creek. You can contact us at (770) 993-5317, or by completing our online form.

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Rowsey & Stelter, Attorneys at Law

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Chris Smith

Tom did an excellent job setting up my LLC for my new business recently. I was in a situation where I needed the LLC formed quickly and Tom and his team were able to work on a very short deadline. Highly recommended!

GAAW Wright

Tom has been our attorney for many years. He has been with us through thick and thin. He has successfully handled all our queries and cases with patience and understanding. We highly recommend Tom!

Corey Rennolds

At all times for the duration of my case, Tom demonstrated professionalism, confidence, and honesty. At no point was I pressured to make any one decision over another, but Tom did his best to inform me about the consequences and benefits of all of my options. If he did not know some specific detail regarding my case, he made the effort to find out. Tom instantly exudes trustworthiness and was always in steady contact. I would recommend his services to anyone.

Justina Allen

I met Tom over 10 years ago after settling in Roswell with my family. I have learned over the years that Tom is a man of high integrity, genuine and extremely knowledgeable in his field. Along with being honest, he is a straight shooter and will let you know where you stand. He will provide you with personal attention you don’t get at bigger firms and will go the extra mile. As legal matters can be frightening to deal with, Tom will guide you through the process and get you the results you need.

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Rowsey & Stelter, Attorneys at Law

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295 W Crossville Road,
Building 100, Suite 110,
Roswell, GA 30075

(770) 993-5317

Monday - Friday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday Closed