Laying Out the Steps in a Georgia Divorce

The unexpected is what makes divorce stressful for many spouses. If you’re about to file, you probably want to know how much it will cost, how long it will take, and what the process actually looks like. While it’s impossible to know both the total cost and timeline of your divorce without a thorough assessment of your situation (most contested divorces can take between several months to over a year), we can provide you with an overview of the legal process.

Before filing for divorce in Georgia, you must have lived in the state for a minimum of six months. You may then file for divorce on the grounds that you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences”, which is no-fault divorce, or on fault-based grounds (there are around a dozen fault grounds in Georgia). Your attorney will be able to advise you on the advantages and disadvantages for no-fault and fault-based filings.

NOTE: The process outlined below applies to divorces in which spouses do not agree on the terms of the divorce settlement — this is referred to as a “contested” divorce. If you have an uncontested divorce, your process might look quite different. Your attorney will be able to go into further detail.

Step 1: File the divorce complaint in the proper county’s Superior Court. The appropriate county is typically where you or your spouse resides. The divorce complaint should specify the grounds on which you are filing for divorce (no-fault or fault-based) and how you would like the court to rule on specific issues like child support, custody, alimony, property division, and other important matters. 

Step 2: Serve your spouse with the divorce complaint. You simply cannot tell your spouse that you want a divorce and expect to fulfill this step. There is a formal service process that must be followed. Depending on how willing your spouse is to accept the divorce, you might need to hire a professional process server. Once your spouse is served with divorce papers, he or she has only 30 days to formally respond. If your spouse does not respond or appear when given notice, it is possible that the judge may award your requests in full.

Step 3: Begin the process of discovery. Assuming your spouse responds to the divorce complaint AND your divorce is still contested, your and your spouse’s attorneys will begin exchanging documents and information. This process of discovery provides proof of your income, assets, and other circumstances that will impact the divorce agreement. 

Step 4: Go to mediation. Except in rare cases, divorcing couples in Georgia must go to mediation to resolve any disagreements. In mediation, you and your spouse attempt to resolve your disputes through a neutral third party. There are plenty of benefits to mediate your divorce instead of going to court, but litigating before a judge is next if mediation does not lead to an agreement. Once your marriage is legally terminated, you may receive a divorce certificate. 

Before you do anything, though, you need to hire an attorney to protect your rights and interests throughout your divorce. The law is incredibly complex, and you don’t know what you don’t know. Even in mediation, you need an attorney to put you in the best possible position. 

The Anderson Firm gets results by digging into the details, leaving no stone unturned, and forging a real relationship with clients. Contact our team today to set up a consultation and get the legal counsel you need and deserve.

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The Anderson Firm, LLC

Precious Anderson knows her clients want quick, painless solutions for their small to mid-sized business problems.

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