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Divorce in Georgia - Answers to Common Questions

Article by Megan Pearson
Article Date: 1/8/2013 10:03:09 AM

In Georgia, where does one file for divorce? How do I file for divorce? Is there a way to live apart without getting a divorce? What should I do if I receive a complaint for divorce in Georgia that my spouse has filed?

How does one file for Divorce in Georgia?
The person seeking the divorce (the plaintiff) will file a document called a “complaint” with the appropriate Superior Court. This complaint includes information on the marriage including present living arrangements, children of the marriage, assets and debts, and the specific reason claimed for seeking a divorce. A copy of the complaint will be served on the other spouse (the defendant) by the sheriff.
 
Where does one file for Divorce in Georgia?
A complaint for divorce should be filed in the Superior Court of the defendant’s county of residence or, if the defendant has recently moved from the state of Georgia, in the county of the plaintiff’s residence. This would be considered the domicile of the marriage. Upon the defendant’s consent, the complaint may be filed in the plaintiff’s county of residence regardless of whether the defendant has moved from the state of Georgia or not.
 
What should I do if I receive a complaint for divorce in Georgia that my spouse has filed?
The spouse who receives the complaint should promptly consult a lawyer. The spouse may contest the reason claimed for the divorce or contest the claims for child custody, child support, and alimony or property division by filing an answer with the court. However, if an answer is not filed within 30 days, the right to contest the complaint may be lost.
 
Is there a way to live apart without getting a divorce?
A party who wishes to live apart permanently, but who does not want to get a divorce, may file a “separate maintenance” action. The spouses will remain legally married although living apart. The court may order that alimony be paid by one spouse to the other, and the court may divide property between the parties.
 
What is an annulment?
Unlike a divorce, which dissolves a valid marriage, an annulment is a legal decree that the marriage is now void and was invalid from its inception. If there are children born of the marriage, an annulment may not be granted, and the marriage may only be dissolved by divorce.
 
Must I go to court to get a divorce?
Not necessarily. Spouses may be able to reach an agreement resolving all issues arising from the marriage, including finances, division of property and custody and visitation of children. The agreement is presented to the court as a settlement agreement and, upon approval, made an order of the court. The court’s order, called a final judgment and decree, concludes the lawsuit, If, however, the parties cannot reach an agreement, the issues will be resolved by the judge or the jury. However, a judge always decides matters of child custody and visitation.
 
How long does it take to get a divorce?
If there is an agreement between the parties, the divorce is considered uncontested. An uncontested divorce may be granted 31 days after the defendant has been served with the complaint for divorce. If there is a disagreement as to any matter, the divorce will be obtained when the case reaches the court, which can take up to several months.

What happens while I wait to go to court?
Either of the spouses may request a temporary hearing. However, in most jurisdictions this will not take place until mediation occurs. This hearing is not a final trial. A temporary hearing resolves the issues of child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, debts and possession of property on a temporary basis until the final trial. The judge will issues a temporary order that applies only until the time of the final trial. The temporary order may also prohibit one party from interfering with the other party or the children and prevent the transfer and selling of assets.

What Is mediation?
Mediation is a process in which a neutral third person or “mediator” works with the parties to settle the issues before the court. Mediation focuses on the needs and interest of both parties rather than on rights and positions. The mediator has no authority to make a decision or impose a settlement upon the parties. While the parties may be ordered to a mediation session, any agreement reached is entirely voluntary. If a settlement cannot be reached, the parties lose none of their rights to a hearing in the matter, and the case will be released from ADR for placement on the next available court calendar.
Keywords: Divorce, Georgia, Stockbridge, Henry County, McDonough, Clayton County, Attorney, Lawyer, Attorney, Hampton, Locust Grove
Megan Pearson Megan Pearson

Megan Pearson specializes in civil litigation, criminal defense, employment and domestic law. Megan’s civil experience includes contract disputes, land lord tenant disputes, and defense of employers in benefit claims appeals. Her office is in McDonough, Georgia.

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