The quickest way to be divorced is to resolve any and all issues between you and your spouse and to execute any and all of the requisite paperwork before a case is ever even filed – what we refer to as an “uncontested case.” Once the “uncontested” case is filed, the State of Georgia imposes a mandatory 31 day waiting period before the Court can enter the Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce. In its fastest form, in other words, a divorce may be entered in as little as 31 days. For cases that begin in a “contested” posture (meaning, they are not formally settled prior to being filed), or for those cases that proceed through the Collaborative Law process, the timeframe will be significantly longer, and an exact end date cannot be identified with specificity. Factors that impact how long these latter types of cases to resolve include, but are not limited to, the county in which the case is filed, the actions taken by you and by your attorney, the actions taken by your spouse and by his or her attorney, whether a Guardian ad Litem and / or other experts are involved in the case, and how your assigned judge handles his or her particular docket. We will do our best to keep you informed throughout the process as to how a certain event may impact the progress of your case.
Frequently Asked Questions
The simple answer is that until you have a court sign a final judgment and decree of divorce, you are still married and not able to marry anyone else. Some people want to have a trial separation and use that time to see if they can save their marriage. If that is your goal, we highly recommend that you work with a marriage counselor. Georgia does not recognize a legal separation, but it does have a legal proceeding called “separate maintenance”. The goal of a separate maintenance action would be to provide for financial support for children and possibly a non-working spouse during the period of separation.
No. The State Bar of Georgia Ethics Rules prevent lawyers from representing both parties, because you and your spouse/former spouse have conflicting interests. For example, if you are the party obligated to pay child support, alimony or attorney’s fees, then I would negotiate so that you pay as little as possible. On the other side of the coin, if you are the party who is to receive any of these financial awards, then I would negotiate for you to receive as much as possible. The goal of my representation depends upon which party I represent.
This is not to say that each party is required to have an attorney. Either party is free to represent himself or herself. However, even if one party chooses to go unrepresented by an attorney, I can still only represent one party
Georgia is an equitable division property state. Equitable division means whatever is fair and reasonable under the circumstances; it does not necessarily mean an equal division of “marital” assets between spouses, although more often than not, most assets are divided somewhere in the range of 50/50.
There are numerous factors the court will consider to determine what is fair and reasonable under the circumstances, including the:
- Length of the marriage
- Age of the parties
- Health of the parties
- Cause of separation
- Marital misconduct
- Earning capacity of the parties
- Contributions of each party as a spouse, as a parent and financially
- Each party’s separate estate
Note that “separate property” (premarital assets, inheritances and gifts from third parties) is not subject to an equitable division.
Judges calculate child support in Georgia based upon two core considerations: 1) a child’s needs, and 2) a party’s ability to pay. The Georgia legislature has attempted to address these two core considerations more concretely in the form of Georgia’s child support guidelines (embodied in O.C.G.A. Sec. 19-6-15) and in the form of an “income share” model of a child support worksheet where each party’s percentage contribution to the parties’ combined income is the basis for the child support calculation. The latest child support worksheet form can be found at https://www.georgiacourts.org/csc/.
As we often tell our clients, the Georgia child support worksheet is not magical and each side of a case can reach very different child support numbers based upon the same set of facts. Only upon rare occasions do parties agree upon all of the numbers that should be plugged into the worksheet, and therefore only upon very rare occasions do the respective child support worksheets match. Common areas of dispute lie in the following areas: the amount of a party’s variable income (the Court may average variable income such as bonuses over a “reasonable” period of time), the amount of childcare “reasonably necessary” to a party’s employment, and the amount of “special expenses” (such as private school or extraordinary medical expenses) that should be discretionarily included by the Court in the worksheet.
Situations change over time, and a custody arrangement that worked at the time of your divorce may not work five years down the road. If you have had a substantial change in circumstances, such as a job-related relocation to another city or state, our custody lawyers can help you through the process of pursuing a modification to custody orders.
Yes, a married person commits the offense of adultery when he or she voluntarily has sexual intercourse with a person other than his or her spouse. Adultery is punishable as a misdemeanor under Georgia law.
In Georgia, the mother of a child born out of wedlock may file an action against the biological father to establish his paternity and to collect child support.
You should consult an attorney as soon as possible to file an answer to your spouse’s claims. You only have 30 days from the date you received the complaint to file a response with the court. You need to give your lawyer time to prepare your response. Even if you are guilty of the conduct claimed in the complaint, there are defenses you could use to keep the issue from affecting the outcome of your divorce. You can also contest your spouse’s claims for child custody, child support, marital property division and alimony raised in the complaint.
If you have grounds for divorce (such as adultery or habitual drunkenness), it can be helpful to hold that your spouse’s conduct is the cause of the breakup of the marriage when you file for divorce. If the court agrees with you, you may receive a greater share of marital property. If your spouse committed adultery, he or she may not be entitled to alimony.
If you don’t file for divorce after the conduct and you continue to act as husband and wife, the court can deem that you condoned the conduct, and it cannot be used as grounds for divorce or as a reason for denying alimony.
As soon as you file for divorce, the court will issue standing orders that will prevent you and your spouse from disposing of assets, changing insurance or otherwise disrupting the status quo. If you are concerned that your spouse is wasting or disposing of marital property, you should file for divorce as soon as possible. You may also want to cancel any joint credit cards you have with your spouse. Otherwise, you could be jointly responsible for credit card debt.
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Atlanta, GA 30309