For many people, the decision to get a divorce is not an easy one to make. You may have spent considerable time and experienced a lot of stress to get to this point. It is normal to feel a bit overwhelmed. Divorce is never easy, as anyone who has gone through one will tell you.
Fortunately, the actual process of divorce in Georgia does not have to be difficult or complicated, as long as you and your spouse are able to come to an understanding on the important aspects of the separation. If you and your spouse agree that the divorce is necessary, how your property will be divided and on child custody issues, you can seek an uncontested divorce. With an uncontested divorce, you simply need to fill out the appropriate divorce papers for Georgia and submit them to your county clerk to begin the process.
If you are in a situation where you and your spouse are not in agreement about any of these issues, you may have a tougher time on your hands. You have the option of seeking divorce mediation to help resolve your differences, a path that many couples find productive. Or, if you are sure that the disagreements will stand, you may need to seek out the help of an experienced divorce attorney.
If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to seek an uncontested divorce, you can begin the process immediately. Read on to learn about divorce in Georgia, and how to start your divorce.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the divorce rate in Georgia stopped being recorded after 2003. In 2003, the divorce rate in Georgia was low, at 3.2 per 1,000 residents.
Georgia requires that you or your spouse be a resident of the state for at least six months before you are allowed to file for divorce. If your spouse is a resident of the state, you will need to file for divorce in the superior court of his or her county of residence. You and your spouse can also both sign a venue waiver, which will allow you to file in your county.
Georgia allows you to file for either a no-fault divorce or a fault divorce. No-fault is the more popular option, as you do not need to prove any fault on the part of your spouse for the dissolution of the marriage. You simply need to state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”. A fault-based divorce requires that you list one of 12 fault grounds that are allowed by the state. Some of these grounds include adultery and desertion. Fault-based divorces can be used to seek custody of children or maintenance. However, these issues move beyond the scope of an uncontested divorce.
The State Bar of Georgia offers a helpful online pamphlet about divorce that answers a number of questions you may have about the divorce process. While it does not include the required divorce papers, it does provide important information that each couple should have during the divorce process.
Georgia’s divorce papers can be obtained from the local county clerk. The main form you will want to complete is the Petition for Divorce, although you are likely to need a number of other documents to complete the divorce process. Some of these forms may include a Domestic Relations Case Filing Information Form, a Marriage Settlement Agreement and a Final Judgment and Decree. You can ask the county clerk which forms you should use for your circumstances.
Please consider that if you submit the divorce papers, omit necessary forms or fill out any of the divorce papers forms incorrectly, it will result in delays and added cost. To avoid costly errors, a good option is to complete your Georgia divorce papers online with CompleteCase.com. Our online divorce form preparation service makes the process easy. We identify the right forms for your situation and ensure they’re filled out correctly.
When you have completed your divorce papers, you will want to file the forms with the county clerk where your spouse is a resident. You may want to call the clerk to verify that you have everything you need before you arrive, and that you bring the correct payment for the state filing fee. The clerk will tell you to bring at least two copies, as well as the original, so you have enough to file, keep for your record and to serve to your spouse.
Georgia requires you to serve copies of the divorce papers to your spouse. If you and your spouse are on good terms, you can bring the copies to him or her in person. Have your spouse fill out a form to acknowledge the receipt of the documents, and be sure to file it with the court.
If you are not on good terms with your spouse, you can have either the local sheriff's deputy or a private process server deliver the divorce documents. A sheriff is generally the less expensive option for serving papers, but the sheriff's office may be busy which would delay delivery. If you want speed and are willing to pay for it, a private process server is a better option.
When all the divorce paperwork has been received, expect to wait at least a month before you can attend the final hearing. At the hearing the court will review the documents and verify that you and your spouse are still in agreement about the divorce and the distribution of property, as well as any issues concerning your children. If everything is in order, the court will then finalize the divorce.