DIVORCE PROCESS IN GEORGIA
Learn About Your Options And How To Get Started On Your Divorce
Divorce will impact your life more than you may think. Your first order of business should be to meet with a divorce lawyer to discuss your situation, learn about your options and develop your exit strategy. Contact us to schedule a consultation with a divorce lawyer in Marietta. Before you begin the divorce process you should meet with a Georgia divorce lawyer.
To formally start the divorce process you must meet certain legal requirements. If you qualify, the divorce process requires filing the proper paperwork with the Superior court in your home county. The Georgia residency requirements for filing divorce are as follows:
(Per Georgia Code – Sections: 19-5-5) No court shall grant a divorce to any person who has not been a bonafide resident of this state for six months before the filing of the petition for divorce, provided that any person who has been a resident of any United States army post or military reservation within this state for one year next preceding the filing of the petition may bring an action for divorce in any county adjacent to the United States army post or military reservation; and provided, further, that a nonresident of this state may file a petition for divorce, in the county of residence of the respondent, against any person who has been a resident of this state and of the county in which the action is brought for a period of six months prior to the filing of the petition.
Prepare & File Your Complaint
There is a formal Petition for Divorce which must be completed and filed with the Superior Court in the county where you reside. Your divorce petition must state your legal grounds for divorce along with other information. You will need to state the type of divorce you are seeking. As the filer you will be known as the Petitioner and your spouse will be known as the Respondent. Your petition will be processed and divorce papers will be served to your spouse by a third party agent such as your local sheriff’s department. Your spouse has 30 days to file a formal answer to the complaint.
Living During Your Divorce
From the moment you file for divorce you should be very mindful of your words and actions. Casual comments to friends, rants on social media sites or information overheard in public can hurt your case. Immoral or criminal behaviors (i.e., DUI arrest) can severely hurt your child custody battle. You should speak with your attorney to learn more about the Do’s and Don’ts of living during your divorce.
Temporary Court Orders
In some cases it may be necessary to have the court resolve issues on temporary living arrangements such as possession of property, child custody, child support, visitation, spousal support, payment of debts and similar matters. During the legal process you will usually be forbidden from selling or disposing of assets, property or otherwise significantly altering marital assets.You are legally obligated to follow all points of a court order. Violating a court order is grounds to be charged with contempt of court.
Temporary Protective Order (TPO)
A Temporary Protective Order (TPO) is the Georgia equivalent of a restraining order.In situations where there has been domestic violence, or there is a threat of violence, you can request a Temporary Protective Orderwhich is the Georgia equivalent of a restraining order.
If you have been served a TPO you can request an emergency hearing to fight the court order. We can represent you in court to address the allegations made in the filing of the TPO.
Discovery is when you gather your documentation and supporting evidence to build your case. Information on living expenses, income, parenting qualifications, marital assets and financial assets are important pieces of your case. When relevant you should prepare evidence of adultery, physical abuse, molestation, criminal conduct and similar misconduct to strengthen your case. During the discovery process the opposing attorneys may share information about their client’s case to lay the groundwork for negotiating a settlement. A successful divorce process begins with a good amount of quality information. We can advise you on the information you need to gather before filing your case.
Mediation Or Trial
Before your divorce can be final you and your spouse must have a settlement agreement which will be signed by both parties. The settlement is a formal document that defines the terms of the dissolution of the marriage. The settlement covers areas such as child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, property division and possibly special conditions. During the process, developing your settlement can be done in several ways. One way is the spouses draft their own settlement, and give to the attorneys for review and to prepare the formal documents. Mediation is the cost effective solution when there are minor disagreements. A trial is the extreme option used to resolve irreconcilable differences on settlement details. Almost all divorcing couples settle their case out of court which minimizes stress, legal fees and the time required to get a final decree.
When your settlement has been agreed to by both parties it will be submitted to the court for review and approval. Even if both parties have agreed to all conditions stated in the settlement the court can at its discretion amend the agreement. If there are minor children your settlement will include a parenting plan which addresses post-divorce co-parenting efforts. If the court revises the terms of the settlement it is usually concerning parenting plan specifics such as child custody, visitation and support payments.
Life After Divorce
When you receive your final decree your new life has begun. You may have some rules and restrictions; however you will at least have things settled and your stress level will drop substantially. It is normal and important to work through a mental healing process in order to get you back on track. With a positive attitude and perhaps some counseling you will probably find that you can work reasonably well with your ex-spouse on most issues.