Divorce in Georgia
Filing for Divorce in GA?
How complicated is it to get a divorce?
Some divorces are complicated, but many divorces are quite simple. The more a couple can agree on, the simpler the divorce will be. If your divorce attorney and the court have to resolve some issues that you and your spouse can’t solve between you, then the divorce will not only be more complicated, but more expensive. Attorneys can often help simplify a divorce by helping you resolve some issues if a couple is having trouble communicating well.
Does it take a long time to get divorced?
If you both agree on all the issues such as the property division, child custody, etc. you can file an uncontested divorce, and could be legally divorced in about 31 days. If you can’t reach an agreement the divorce could last months or even years. If the 31 days has passed, and you and your spouse reach an agreement, you can file it with the court at any time and the judge will grant your divorce.
I can’t wait 31 days for the hearing. What can I do?
In some cases, a judge will have a hearing to temporarily settle some matters such as how the mortgage is paid, and how other bills are going to be paid. The court may also hold a hearing to temporarily decide child custody, visitation, and child support.
Do I have to have an attorney to get divorced?
In the state of Georgia, you don’t have to have a lawyer to get a divorce. One of you will have to go to the Superior Court in the county you reside in and fill out a Complaint for Divorce and a Settlement agreement. The Settlement Agreement states exactly how all property is going to be divided up, who pays the court costs, how any debts are going to be paid, etc. The people who work in the courthouse are not allowed to instruct you on how to complete these forms, only your lawyer can do that. If any of these forms are not completed properly, you may not be able to enforce the agreement in the future. Also, if minor children are involved, there is very specific legal language that must be included in the Settlement Agreement. An attorney can help you with the Settlement Agreement to ensure that you and your spouse have all your rights protected and that the Complaint for Divorce and the Settlement Agreement are completed properly.
The Complaint, sometimes called a Petition for Divorce, will require you to state why you want to get a divorce. The most common reason for a divorce is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Once you’ve completed the paperwork, your spouse will have to give the court a signed, notarized document that says they’ve received a copy of the Complaint. If your spouse is unwilling to do that, then you can have a sheriff’s deputy who is hired by the court to serve your spouse a copy of the Complaint.
Can we both use the same attorney to get divorced?
No. You and your spouse need separate attorneys. It would not be ethical for the same attorney to represent both parties on opposite sides of the divorce.
Is it expensive to get divorced?
The main factor that determines the cost of your divorce is how many issues you and your spouse can settle between the two of you without getting the attorney and/or the court involved. Some divorces, where the couple agrees on just about everything can be quite inexpensive, while a couple who can’t agree on anything, could pay thousands of dollars.
Some attorneys charge a low flat fee to handle a divorce, while other lawyers charge by the hour. An attorney could charge you their travel time to and from court, for the time they spend in court, and for the amount of time they spend on the telephone with you or with the other attorney or the court regarding your divorce. If you and your spouse can come to an agreement without having a lot of court hearings, you will pay less for your divorce than a couple who’s attorney has to go to court multiple times.
We still live together. Can we file for a divorce?
Yes. While the court will require you to be legally separated, you can still reside in the same house. A legal separation is the first step you will take toward your divorce. In the eyes of the law, to be legally separated means that you and your spouse are no longer having sex with each other.
If you are facing a contested or uncontested divorce in the Columbus area, then call our law office to speak with an experienced Columbus GA divorce lawyer.
Do I have to have “grounds” to get a divorce?
Yes. In Georgia there are 13 grounds, or reasons for a divorce. The most common grounds for divorce is a no-fault divorce. This means that the marriage is irretrievably broken and can’t be fixed. In a no-fault divorce neither you or your spouse will have to prove one of you was responsible for the break-down of the marriage, and only one side has to show that they believe the marriage is over and can’t be restored.
What are some of the grounds for divorce in Georgia?
Other than a marriage being irretrievably broken, as in a no-fault divorce case, some of the other grounds for divorce are committing adultery, mental illness, conviction of particular crimes, alcoholism, physical or mental abuse, etc. Other than in a no-fault divorce, one of you must accuse the other of one of these grounds for divorce.
If you choose not to get a no-fault divorce, you are going to have to prove to the court that your spouse was to blame for the failure of the marriage. You can achieve the same results much faster and generally less expensively by filing for a no-fault divorce.
I was served with a Complaint for Divorce by my spouse. What should I do?
You should contact a Columbus Georgia divorce attorney immediately. The Complaint must be responded to in writing within 30 days after you receive it. This is your opportunity to respond to any of the allegations your spouse made in the Complaint.
You can admit to some or all of the allegations in the Complaint, deny all of the claims in the Complaint, or a combination of the two. Your attorney may advise you to file a counterclaim to the divorce, and sue your spouse for divorce.
If you don’t answer the Complaint in writing and file it with the court within the 30
day time limit, the court could assume that you agree with all the claims your spouse made in the Complaint.
If settling matters is not possible, you have to go through all the steps and you would require expert guidance and representation from an experienced divorce attorney.