If you are considering filing for divorce, or your spouse has already filed, our family law attorneys can assist you with the process. We can help guide you through every step of the divorce process, including filing and serving the relevant paperwork, negotiating divorce agreements, and dividing property. Our law firm can handle both contested and uncontested divorce.Requirements for Obtaining a Divorce in Georgia
Georgia is a no-fault divorce state. This means that one or both parties filing for divorce can obtain one simply by stating a belief that irreconcilable differences are at play, meaning that no one party is at fault for the marriage failing. Alternatively, the spouse filing can cite fault grounds for a marriage's failure when filing for divorce. Some possible fault grounds include:
- Force or fraud used to obtain the marriage
- Mental incompetency at the time of marriage
- Being convicted of and imprisoned for criminal actions
- Emotional or physical abuse
- Alcohol or drug addiction
No-fault divorce is more commonplace in Georgia because the process is much faster. In a no-fault divorce, the spouse filing for divorce simply needs to prove to the court that the two spouses are incompatible, and this incompatibility will never be resolved. This applies even if one spouse's actions did actively contribute to the breakdown of the marriage. By contrast, if a spouse cites specific fault grounds when filing for divorce, then they will need to make a case for these fault grounds in court, which can prolong the process.
In order to obtain a divorce in Georgia, the spouse filing for divorce must have been a resident of that state for at least six months. Although you and your spouse must be legally separated in order to file for divorce, this does not mean that you cannot share a residence at the time of filing. Under Georgia law, a couple who is no longer engaging in marital relations and considers themselves to be in a state of separation is considered legally separated, even if they are still living in the same house.
The party seeking the divorce must file a complaint for divorce with the appropriate superior court. This document will contain information including living arrangements, children, marital assets and debts, and the specific reason for divorce. This complaint will then be served on the other spouse, who will then have 30 days to file a written answer to the complaint for divorce.
Georgia courts will not grant a divorce until 30 days have elapsed since the complaint for divorce was served on the non-filing spouse. This applies even if both spouses want to finalize their divorce as soon as possible. Conflict and frustration are natural parts of every relationship, and the court would rather give both parties a period of time to cool down than risk beginning the divorce process for a couple that may reconcile.Contested v. Uncontested Divorce
Divorces can either be contested or uncontested. In an uncontested divorce, both spouses have come to an agreement on how all aspects of the divorce will be handled. This includes child custody arrangements, child support and alimony, and how marital assets will be divided. From there, it is simply a matter of creating a separation agreement laying out the terms for divorce in a fair and equitable manner and filing the appropriate paperwork with the court.
However, if you and your spouse disagree on any potential divorce arrangements, then the divorce is considered contested. When this happens, couples may hire a divorce mediator, a third party who can help them discuss and resolve the issues that occur in their divorce. Alternately, they may choose to bring their divorce to the appropriate superior court, allowing the judge to have the final say on how the issue will be resolved.
Your family lawyer can help you obtain all information relevant to your divorce. This can include witness statements, depositions, financial records, and documents related to marital assets and/or children of the marriage. You, your spouse, and your respective legal counsel will then negotiate proposed divorce settlements. If it is still impossible for you and your spouse to come to an agreement, then your case will go to court.
During the trial, you and your spouse can present evidence to the court and have your attorney call character witnesses to testify on your behalf and be cross-examined by the opposing counsel. After the judge has heard both sides of the case, the court will come to a decision regarding the issues at play in your divorce, including who receives custody of the children, whether alimony will be awarded and if so, how much, and how marital assets and debts are to be divided.Our Family Law Attorneys Can Help
Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today if you are considering filing to divorce, or if you spouse already has filed. Our family lawyers can help you navigate any issues that arise in your divorce and obtain the best possible resolution for your case.