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The problems about getting divorced and alimony


Lana Giorgidze

“Regardless the court judgment, the father of the children has not paid the alimony for six months. Initially he threatened me with taking the children away and leaving me in the street. I do not know whom to apply for help,” the victim of the domestic violence told humanrights.ge. The woman, whose name is kept anonymous in respect to her interests, left husband a year ago and is living in the shelter together with her three under-age children.

“In April, my term will expire and I will have to leave the shelter; I do not know where to go; I have neither job nor home. The former husband was beating me during 5 years; finally he beat me with chain and I called the police; I even applied to the Public Defender’s Office for help. Restraining and protective orders were issued against him but he continued my intimidation. After the court judgment, he stopped calling me,” the victim of violence said.

Many female victims of violence have the same problem as the respondent. Since the women do not have income and cannot keep their children financially, they depend on the alimonies. In the process of getting the alimony, the victims face many barriers, major of which is the enforcement of the court judgment and the decision of the father not to pay the alimony to the child/ren.

In accordance to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, 9 539 couples got divorced in 2016, 9 112 couples got divorced in 2015, 9 114 – in 2014 and 8 089 in 2013. As for the period from 2001 to 2012, the statistics from that period is much lower than in the recent years. 

Representatives of nongovernmental organizations name the violence against women as main reason of divorces. The human rights defenders agree that divorce, getting financial allowances/alimony for their children is problem for them and they complain about ceasing the divorce process and annulment of the court judgment.

“The main reasons of the divorce facts are tense relations and conflicts between the couples, which often turn into physical violence. The husbands often demand the women not to work, stay at home and take care of the home and children. Sometimes, the men claim that the wives wanted to get divorced because they wanted to leave the houses of their parents-in-law which had turned into conflicts. The divorce gets complicated process when the parties argue about alimony, property, right to see the children, etc,” Shida Kartli office lawyer of Human Rights Center Aleksi Merebashvili said.

He added that there are two ways to get divorced: the parties apply to the Public Registration Agency and register divorce fact; the married couple appeals the court when one of the couple does not agree with the divorce or has dispute over the property or the place of residence for children.

“In the first case the price for the registration is the only obstacle. In the second option – the applicants have to pay the court fee. In most cases, the female victims of violence have limited financial resources and cannot pay the fees. If the woman is socially indigent person, then she is free from the payment of court excise. However, the problem of socially indigent women is to claim the alimony. One of the beneficiaries, who is socially indigent person, refused to lodge the claim about alimony because the social service representatives told them if any sum will be allocated on their bank accounts, will lose the status. One of the barriers is the reconciliation period – namely the judge has right to give 6-month probation period to the couple to reconcile and will continue discussion of the case after this term expires,” lawyer Aleksi Merebashvili said.

“There is one more important issues, which may be evaluated as legislative miscarriage. Namely, when the court fixes alimony for the underage child and at the same time the family is registered in the common data base of socially indigent families. In this case, beneficiary/recipient of the social benefit loses the allowance. In similar cases the applicants themselves refuse to appeal the court for the alimony claiming that they will lose the allowance because additional income automatically removes it. The Law about Social Protection regulates this problematic issue. I think the alimony shall not cause suspension of the social benefit because it is not permanent income, or the income which can be taxed. At the same time, it is important to note that in accordance to the law, the alimony is paid to the person before he/she reaches the age of adulthood. It is necessary to have a new note in the law, which will evaluate the alimony as exception and will not cause suspension of the social allowance,” HRC lawyer Giorgi Kakubava said.

Lawyer at the nongovernmental organization Partnership for Human Rights Mariam Kevkhishvili said another serious problem is that majority of female victims of violence changes their minds and drop litigation against harasser husbands.

“Female victims of violence often apply to us for help in the divorce case and alimony for their children. When there is court judgment on alimony, the women have problems in the enforcement of the ruling. These cases are more common than voluntary payment of alimonies. The former husbands often purposefully do not pay the alimony until the National Enforcement Bureau interferes in the case. Thus, often we have to forward our applicants to the National Enforcement Bureau,” Mariam Kevkhishvili told humanrights.ge.

HRC lawyer Giorgi Kakubava also spoke about the problems in the enforcement of the court judgments on alimony. 

“The victim of domestic violence, who is divorced with her husband, appealed the court to claim the alimony for her two underage children. The court satisfied her appeal but the problem is enforcement of the court judgment because the former husband is registered in the data base of socially indigent population and although he works and gets salary in cash, the court judgment is not enforced,” Giorgi Kakubava said.

He said there were cases when the victims changed their mind and refused to get divorced though their appeals were already sent to the court: “Sometimes the victims could not pay the court excise and refrain from appealing the court for the divorce. However, when the applicant requests the alimony, the law frees her from the court fee.”

Lawyer of the nongovernmental organization Sapari Tea Tadashvili said although the other side mostly tries to hide incomes, the court more or less assists the applicant to obtain evidence and estimate the real income. 

“There are cases when the female victims of the violence apply to us after they are already divorced. As for the alimony, it depends on the financial state of the defendant but there are cases when the fathers are not employed, do not have real income or registered income to impose alimony on him. Another problematic issue is enforcement of the court decision. In many cases, the women told us that they have court verdict on the alimony but it is not enforced because the defendant does not have income, salary or a job. This problem cannot be positively resolved unless the father has positive will to assist the child financially. In similar situation, one parent depends on the kind will of the second parent,” the lawyer Tea Tadashvili told humanrights.ge.

HRC lawyer Aleksi Merebashvili said after the court judgment goes in force, the enforcement paper is issued and the National Enforcement Bureau starts evaluation of the debtor’s property.

“If the debtor does not voluntarily executes the obligation imposed by the court, the National Enforcement Bureau commences compulsory enforcement. If the debtor gets salary on the bank account, owns property, car, or other, the NEB sequesters his property (bank accounts). If the debtor does not have property, it is impossible to enforce the judgment and the applicant is left without alimony until the debtor starts paying the alimony voluntarily or acquires property which can become subject of compulsory enforcement. I had many cases when the court judgments are not enforced,” Aleksi Merebashvili said. 

Lack of financial independence and unenforced alimony judgment often create problems for the women and is time-consuming process. For that reason, the victims of domestic violence refuse to get divorced and are forced to live together with their harasser husbands. It demonstrates that the state shall work more effectively on the elimination of the domestic violence problem, namely assist the most vulnerable group – women.

This article was prepared in the frame of the project “Support to the Prevention of Violence against Women in Georgia, which is implemented by Human Rights Center with financial support of the U.S. Embassy Tbilisi under Democracy Commission Small Grants Program. The contents of this article are those of the Human Rights Center and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of State.

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