Divorce can be one of the most emotionally contentious experiences of your life. But a skilled attorney can help resolve the process more quickly and, if possible, help you avoid protracted litigation. Georgia divorce laws are unique and can be difficult to unravel without the help of an attorney.
Unlike many other states, legal separation isn't something permitted under Georgia law. You can file for a dissolution of the marriage, otherwise known as a divorce, or file for “separate maintenance.”
Georgia does not have a fault-based divorce system. While the most common reason for divorce is typically irreconcilable differences, you can file for divorce for any reason as long as you meet the legal requirements. Other grounds include adultery, abandonment, and “habitual intoxication.”
To file for divorce, you must be a legal resident of Georgia for at least six months. If you and your spouse agree on most major issues, the courts consider the divorce uncontested. If you can't agree, the court will consider the divorce contested.
- Uncontested Divorce
If the parties have an uncontested divorce, they can prepare a final judgment, settlement agreement, and supporting documents to the court for approval. There is a 30-day waiting period in Georgia, and after that, the court will finalize the divorce.
- Contested Divorce
If the parties can't agree on all the major issues like custody, visitation, child support, and division of the assets, the court considers the divorce contested. A contested divorce typically has a discovery period that lasts six months or more, and it may culminate in a trial if the parties still can't agree on the major issues. Contested divorces can take a year or longer to resolve.
Either spouse can file an action for separate maintenance, which allows them to come to a legal agreement about many financial and family issues without dissolving the marriage. A separation maintenance agreement can typically resolve all issues settled during a divorce, including custody and visitation, child support, and alimony. A separate maintenance agreement is useful for couples that no longer want to cohabitate but perhaps disagree with divorce on moral or religious grounds.
Division of the Assets
Georgia is an equitable distribution state, and the courts will attempt to divide the assets of a couple fairly and equitably. However, “equitable” doesn't always mean an equal or 50/50 split of the assets. The court will consider the marriage duration, each spouse's earning capacity, each spouse's assets, debts, liabilities, provisions for custody, and many other factors.
Our Experienced Family Law Attorneys Can Help
Whether you and your spouse can come to mutual agreements, or you must turn to the courts for resolution, you need a skilled Georgia divorce attorney guiding you through the process. The experienced family law attorneys at The Kirk Law Firm, P.C., can help. Contact us at 678-208-3366 or online to schedule a confidential consultation.