Divorce is the method by which a marriage is legally terminated. The rights of the parties concerning division of real and personal property, division of financial accounts, obligations for payment of alimony by one party to the other, and liability for payment of debts are established by Agreement, if the parties can agree. If they cannot agree, a Judge or Jury will make those decisions for the parties.

When divorcing parties have children, decisions must also be made regarding custody, child support and a parenting time schedule. Most Courts require divorcing parents to attend a seminar designed to assist parents with understanding the effect their divorce will have on their children, and how to minimize the negative impact of divorce on the children. If the parties are unable to agree upon a parenting plan, then custody of the children will always be determined by the Judge, even if the case is tried before a jury.

Issues To Be Resolved In Divorce Cases

  • Custody of minor children
  • Parenting Plan
  • Equitable division of the marital assets (real property and personal property)
  • Apportionment of marital debt
  • Alimony
  • Payment of attorney's fees and litigation expenses


Annulment of a marriage is a judicial declaration that the marriage was invalid from its inception. Under Georgia law, any marriage in which one or more of the “Essential Elements Of A Valid Marriage” is missing, is technically void from the beginning, and can be declared so by the Superior Court. If all three of the required elements of a valid marriage are present, the parties cannot obtain an annulment. An annulment declares the parties are not, and never were, legally married, and returns them to their status prior to the attempted “marriage”. Parties cannot obtain an annulment of their purported marriage if a child has been born, or is to be born, from the relationship.


No “Common Law Marriage” can be entered into in the State of Georgia after January 1, 1997. Common Law Marriages which began prior to that date are still recognized.

The essential elements of a valid marriage are:

  1. Both parties must have the ability to enter into a contract (must be of sound mind, legal age, proper relationship, and all prior marriages must be dissolved)
  2. There must be an “actual contract” (voluntary, without fraud, between sober parties)
  3. Consummation according to law (for a ceremonial marriage, this means obtaining a marriage license and having a ceremony performed by an authorized person; for a common law marriage, marital intercourse is also required, in addition)

Georgia does not recognize marriage between persons of the same sex.

Grounds For Divorce

A “ground for divorce” is a legal reason for the divorce. There are 13 grounds (legal reasons) for divorce in Georgia, only one of which is a “No Fault” ground ~ ~ that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”. When this “no fault” ground for divorce is used, neither party is accused of any wrong-doing, and one party simply states he/she is unable or unwilling to continue to remain married.

Each of the other legal grounds for divorce allege wrong-doing by one party, and cite the “wrong” as the reason for the divorce. Common examples of “fault” grounds in Georgia include adultery (an affair) and cruel treatment (physical and/or mental abuse). Obviously, divorce cases where a “fault” ground is alleged are more complicated, take longer to resolve, and typically, are more expensive.


“My divorce had the potential to get ugly, but Mr. Markwell demonstrated repeatedly that he was more interested in protecting my rights and interests in an expedient manner than in dragging out the process and piling up legal fees. In mediation, he cut through the wishful fantasies from opposing counsel (and my ex-wife to be) and earned the favor of both of the mediators, and eventually, the judicial officer that made the final ruling, allowing us to avoid a trial. I’m very satisfied with how I was represented and would recommend him to anyone.” Chris W. – 07/30/2009


 Accepted to the bar in    1977

 Former President of the    North Fulton Bar    Association

 Member of the Family     Law Section of State Bar

Areas of

 Domestic Relations/Family     Law


 Criminal & DUI


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