Before a person can get divorced, they must have a valid marriage. In Georgia, to constitute a valid marriage, there must be: (1) Parties able to contract; (2) An actual contract; and (3) Consummation according to law. OCGA §19-3-1. To be able to contract marriage, a person must: (1) Be of sound mind; (2) Be at least 18 years of age, or be 16 or 17 years of age with parental consent; (3) Have no living spouse of a previous unresolved marriage; and (4) Not be related to the prospective spouse by blood or marriage within the prohibited degrees. OCGA §19-3-2. To have an actual contract, the parties must have "actually contracted to be man and wife in the forms and with the solemnities required by law." Pitts v. State, 147 Ga. 801, 803 (1918). If any of these prerequisites is missing, the marriage is not valid in Georgia and the parties cannot be awarded equitable distribution of their assets or alimony. If you are unsure whether you have a valid marriage and are, therefore, able to obtain a divorce, contact a Georgia divorce or family law attorney to assist you.
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