Are you thinking about filing for divorce?
But you’re wondering what is the divorce process in Georgia?
This article is going to go over:
- The steps to getting a divorce.
- How to get divorce papers.
- Where to file for divorce.
- How long does it take to get a divorce?
- How much does it cost to file for divorce?
So, let’s dig into the Georgia divorce process.
The Steps to Getting a Divorce
The steps to getting a divorce are as follows:
- File your divorce forms.
- Get your temporary divorce orders.
- Do your divorce discovery.
- Attend divorce mediation.
- Show up to divorce court.
- Complete the divorce.
- Appeal the divorce (if you want to).
Reach out to your divorce lawyer in Georgia.
If you don’t have one, set up a free divorce consultation.
Your attorney will guide you through the divorce preparation checklist.
This will make the Georgia divorce process easier and cheaper in the long run (with a good, honest lawyer).
They can also tell you HOW to start the divorce process in Georgia.
And go over what are the steps to get a divorce.
(Even if you aren’t hiring them.)
File Your Divorce Forms
The first steps to getting a divorce are to file your divorce papers.
These papers are the Petition for Divorce forms.
And the steps to file for divorce are:
- Filling out your divorce forms.
- Filing for the divorce process.
- Serving divorce forms to your spouse.
You will file for divorce at your local county’s Superior Courts.
Your petition for divorce will include:
- The last known residence of your spouse.
- Residency information to make sure you meet the residency requirements.
- The date of the marriage and separation.
- The name and age of each child. If there are no minor children, state that.
- The grounds for divorce in Georgia.
- Alimony, child support, child custody, and property settlement.
The person filing for divorce is the Petitioner.
The other spouse is the Respondent or Defendant.
After you file for divorce, the next steps in the divorce process is you have to serve your spouse.
You can hire your local sheriff’s office to serve divorce papers.
Once the Defendant gets served, they have 30 days to respond.
If they don’t respond, the judge will grant you the terms you asked for on:
- Child Support
- Child Custody
- Division of Assets
How Long Does It Take to File for Divorce?
Filing for divorce on your own is very fast.
Fill out the divorce papers and file them at your local Superior Court.
Georgia does not have a mandatory waiting period for getting a divorce.
You can get a divorce immediately, in theory.
But it usually takes about 30-60 days for the divorce process to take place.
But how long does it take to file for divorce if you have your lawyer file the papers?
It really depends on how quickly you get the information to the divorce lawyers.
If you drag your feet on getting them the info, then it’s going to make it take longer.
It usually takes our clients about 30 days to get ALL of the information to us.
After that, we file divorce papers within the same week.
Do You Need Legal Separation in Georgia?
You do not need legal separation in Georgia.
Georgia doesn’t even recognize legal separation.
Legal separation in Georgia means that the couple has suspended marital relationships.
Two people can live in the same home and be “separated” in Georgia.
The only requirement is that they suspend marital relations.
This means they no longer share the same room or have sexual relations.
How Much Does It Cost to File For Divorce?
The biggest question most people have is how much to file for divorce.
The cost to file for divorce in Georgia ranges from $200 to $225.
The most affordable divorce is one where you just file for divorce on your own.
The fee to file for divorce must get paid to the Superior Court in the county you file for divorce in.
The cost to file for divorce increases if you hire an attorney to file for divorce for you.
You are paying them $300 per hour to fill out the divorce papers and file them for you.
This could make the cost of filing for divorce go from $225 to $600+ very fast.
Most people just figure out where to get divorce papers on their own and fill them out if they are not hiring a lawyer.
Who Should File for Divorce?
If only one spouse wants to divorce, that spouse should file for divorce.
If both spouses are considering divorce, and:
- it’s a contested divorce, you should file for divorce.
- it’s an uncontested divorce, it won’t matter who files for divorce first.
Filing for divorce first has some legal and financial benefits.
Potential Legal Benefits of Filing for Divorce First
The potential legal benefits of filing for divorce first are:
- finding a divorce lawyer in Georgia first.
- being able to present your argument first.
Let’s say you search, “Best Divorce Lawyers in Atlanta.”
You see a handful of the divorce lawyers with the best reviews on Google.
You pick up the phone and call them to schedule a free divorce consultation.
But when you’re on the phone they tell you that they cannot represent you.
Because your spouse went around and got consultations with the best lawyers in town.
Your spouse knew that if they met with the lawyers, then they could not represent you in the divorce.
Filing for divorce first gives you an opportunity to pick the divorce lawyer that you want to use.
And if you happen to meet with all the top divorce lawyers in Atlanta, then your spouse can’t use them.
If you file for divorce first, you may get to present your case for divorce first.
This may sound like the right move to a spouse who was wronged by their spouse, by committing adultery or abuse.
But this also gives your spouse’s lawyer the ability to create a defense for your argument.
It’s sometimes better to give them a smaller window of opportunity.
Them having less time to prepare for your arguments can benefit you.
Can You File for Divorce Without a Lawyer?
You can file for divorce without a lawyer with uncontested divorces.
Fill out the uncontested divorce forms.
File the divorce petition at your local Superior Court.
Then serve your spouse with the divorce papers.
If you are going through a contested divorce in Georgia, it’s recommended that you get a lawyer.
Contested divorces get super messy when people try filing for divorce on your own.
Where to File for Divorce
Your local Superior Court is where you file for divorce in Georgia.
You will file for divorce at the Superior Court in the county that you live in.
You can also file for divorce in the county that your spouse lives in if they live somewhere different.
How to Get Divorce Papers
If you’re trying to figure out how to get divorce papers, there are several options on where to get divorce papers.
You can get Georgia’s divorce papers from your local county clerk.
You can fill out these divorce papers on your own with your spouse.
They will provide you with a blank Petition for Divorce.
If you want help filling out your divorce papers, your attorney can give you divorce papers.
- walk you through your forms
- explain everything to you
- make sure there are no mistakes
When you let your divorce lawyer review your divorce papers, you won’t mess anything up.
If you fill them out on your own, you can mess up the forms.
When this happens, the judge will force you to start the whole divorce process over from scratch.
Even if you are having an uncontested divorce, it’s good to at least have your attorney review your mutual separation agreement.
Get Your Temporary Divorce Orders
The next step in the Georgia divorce process is to get your temporary court orders.
Temporary court orders get made by the family court when couples separate.
If the court doesn’t start these orders, either spouse can request them.
The family courts will hold temporary order hearings to make these decisions.
These hearings get held at the beginning of separation.
They allow the courts to make temporary decisions on major issues until they can get ironed out in court.
The main issues addressed in temporary order hearings are:
- the sale or possession of the marital home
- child support laws in Georgia (using a Georgia child support calculator)
- alimony in Georgia
- child custody laws in Georgia
- the child’s visitation schedule
- health insurance
- uninsured medical expenses
- restraining orders if needed
- forcing spouses to sell valuable items
The most common form of temporary orders is temporary alimony.
When you’re getting divorced as a stay at home mom, the financial strain is difficult.
The judge will order the spouse to pay alimony until the divorce is finalized.
Do Your Divorce Discovery
The next steps in how to start a divorce is divorce discovery.
Divorce discovery is the pre-trial phase of the divorce process.
Discovery in divorce gives clarity by giving BOTH sides the same information.
This is important for fair negotiations and so the judge can make the fairest decisions.
When it comes to discovery for divorce, these are the most common steps (in no particular order):
1. Interrogatories for Divorce Discovery
Interrogatories are a written questionnaire sent to one spouse and must get answered.
You may have to answer some interrogatories as well.
The divorce lawyers will send the interrogatories to the other spouse for you.
These questions have a 30-day time limit to get answered.
2. Requests for Production for Discovery for Divorce
Requests for production forces both spouses to produce things like:
- bank statements
- statements of income
- retirement account statements
- credit card statements
Again, the person who gets asked to produce these documents must provide them in 30 days.
This part of the discovery process is what holds up a lot of divorces.
3. Admission of Facts for Discovery in Divorce
The admission of facts is a list of facts about the marriage.
If you created the list of facts, then your divorce lawyer will ask your spouse to confirm or deny them.
4. Depositions Used for Divorce Discovery
For depositions in divorce, divorce lawyers will question your spouse and witnesses.
The people they are questioning will be under oath.
Anything said in the depositions can be used against or for you in the divorce courts.
Depositions for divorce are usually held outside of the courtroom.
The divorce lawyers will bring all parties into a conference room for depositions.
Divorce Mediation Process
Divorce mediation process is the most used method for divorce negotiations.
For divorce mediation, a neutral 3rd party gets hired to help resolve issues.
This neutral 3rd party is called a divorce mediator.
The mediator does not make decisions for you.
They help you and your spouse figure out what’s best for you.
Some spouses cannot resolve issues using meditation.
In this case, your negotiations will go to trial in the family courts.
The judge will make the decisions for you.
But if you can resolve issues during the divorce mediation process, the benefits are:
- Mediation is much less expensive than going to trial.
- Mediation ends in a settlement of your major issues.
- Mediation is confidential and no public record gets recorded.
- Mediation allows you to make fair decisions that you and your spouse want. Your major issues are not decided by the judge.
- Your lawyer can give you legal advice during mediation.
- You control the process, not the courts.
- Mediation can help avoid future conflicts with your spouse.
Show Up To Divorce Court
If the divorce mediation process doesn’t work, the next step is going to trial to settle.
If you are going to trial to argue your case, consult your lawyer first.
You want to make sure that you have proper courtroom etiquette.
You may have a great case, witnesses, and proof for any of your claims.
If you show up in pajamas, bullying people, arguing, yelling, and being hard to work with, the judge won’t favor you.
But you’ll go to court even if you do figure out everything in mediation.
The difference is that the judge is not making decisions for you in this hearing.
The judge is confirming that both parties feel that the outcomes are fair.
After the judge has made decisions for you or confirmed the ones you’ve made, they will give the orders.
Divorce orders are given within 14 days of the court date.
The judge needs a couple of weeks to examine the evidence. This also gives them time to make decisions based on what is fair for both parties.
Complete the Divorce
After the judge has approved the divorce, both parties will sign a final decree of divorce.
The final decree is the finalized divorce agreement between the spouses.
The final decree of divorce lays out:
- the splitting of assets
- the splitting of debts
- child custody
- child support
You should read the divorce decree carefully.
If something gets messed up, it can be pretty bad.
For example, someone typing up the decree could fat finger a 1 instead of a 2 really easily.
Imagine getting $100,000 versus $200,000 when splitting the retirement accounts.
That would not be too pretty.
If you see anything that needs changes, this is the time to bring it up.
You can request that changes get made to make the decree correct.
And no, if you’re thinking, “I can sneak something in,” you can’t.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce?
The majority of uncontested divorces in Georgia take 30-60 days to complete.
(That’s the perks of having an amicable divorce.)
It normally takes contested divorces about a year to complete.
Depending on how many issues the contested divorce has, these could take up to several years.
Appeal The Divorce
To appeal a divorce, you have to file the appeal WITHIN 30 days of the final divorce decree getting signed.
It is uncommon for an appeal to overturn a judge’s ruling.
Appeals usually win if there is an error by the court.
An appeal can result from a judge not following guidelines filing for divorce in Georgia.
Over To You
If you want a free divorce consultation, fill out the forms on this page.
We will set up a 30 minute phone call with you to chat about your situation.
There is no obligation to use us. We don’t pressure people to go with us on these calls.
We’re here to listen and help.
The most competent lawyers will have working experience with:
- Child Custody Laws in Georgia
- Alimony Laws in Georgia
- Child Support Laws in Georgia
- Property Division Laws for Georgia
- need an experienced child custody lawyer in Georgia
- you just want to print off your own divorce papers
- have a common law marriage in Georgia
… make sure that you are working with good divorce lawyers.
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