A Thorough Guide to Uncontested Divorce Proceedings in Georgia
Divorce isn’t easy. Whether you decide to separate on good terms or bad, divorce is a stressful period both mentally and financially. Most people would prefer to separate without hassle, but many people are unaware of the processes involved. Let’s discuss how we can go through divorce proceedings with an informed mind to lessen the stress as well as what to expect during this difficult period.
What is Uncontested Divorce?
Uncontested diviorce is one where both parties work amicably together to solve all divorce-related issues. It also helps to get through your divorce stress-free and without any harsh sentiments.
Even if you don’t sort out your issues before your paperwork, you need to do so before a judge reviews the proposed settlement. This allows for solutions that suit both parties.
Requirements for Uncontested Divorce in Georgia
Uncontested divorce in Georgia requires you to comply with state jurisdictions for residency requirements and live in the state for six months prior to filing for divorce.
Gather Your Information
The first step before your divorce proceedings is to gather information to structure your agreement in regards to the child custody, child support, alimony, parenting plan, asset & debt division and more.
These discussions are difficult and are the cause of disagreements if not handled in advance.
Complete the Paperwork
Your circumstances will determine your forms such as whether you have minor children. Here are some of the forms you will need throughout the process:
- Case Filing Information Form
- Petition for Divorce – In some counties there are two petition forms: a Petition for Divorce Without Children and a Petition for Divorce with Minor Children.
- Acknowledgment of Service and Consent to Jurisdiction
- Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit
- Disclosure Statement – This form states whether the parties have a settlement agreement.
- Answer and Counterclaim
- Rule Nisi (Notice of Hearing)
- Final Judgment and Decree
- Report of Divorce, Annulment or Dissolution of Marriage
- Sheriff’s Entry of Service
When it comes to uncontested divorces, especially the ones involving paperworks, communication is crucial.
File Your Paperwork with the Court
When you file paperwork, you are the plaintiff and your spouse is the defendant. You need to file these paperworks to the country clerk of your spouse’s residence.
Pay Your Filing Fees
Filing fees differ by county but typically range from $200-$220 and an additional $50 to the Sheriff’s Department to serve your spouse divorce papers. By providing the qualifications for waiver through the Affidavit of Indigence or Poverty Affidavit or Pauper’s Affidavit for a fee waiver.
Serve the Complaint
You need to bring the court paperwork to your spouse to inform them about your divorce intent which you can do in person in Georgia which will be filed in court later. However, you can let a sheriff’s deputy or private process do the work if you are uncomfortable doing so in person.
Complete and Exchange Financial Disclosures
Completing and exchanging financial affidavits between spouses is required for equitable distribution of assets and debts as set by the Georgia court.
In short these documents are bank accounts, income, real property, homes, cars, business interests, and retirement accounts both separate and joint, in addition to debts and obligations.
Complete a Settlement Agreement
Drafting a settlement agreement is an essential part of your divorce proceedings. Approaching this with cooperation instead of a combative mindset and a will to compromise allows for a peaceful uncontested divorce.
If there are minor children involved, a judge will issue an order approving a parenting plan after reviewing matters related to custody and visitation. Furthermore, a Child Support Worksheet to calculate the child support and seminars for children’s issues are part of regulations set by Georgia Law.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take?
An uncontested divorce doesn’t go through a trial, but both parties will undergo a final hearingbefore a judge. The divorce process can be completed as early as 31 days once the Respondent is served and both parties have signed the Consent to Trial 31 Days After Service and Waiver of Right to Trial by Jury. It may take up to 46 days (from the date of service) if the defendant didn’t respond to the complaint.On the other hand, 61 days need to have passed from the date of the first publication after the defendant was served. However, depending upon the court backlogs and judge’s availability, the process can take longer.
Come in early on your hearing day to get familiar with your surroundings and contact the court personnel.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
It is an undeniable fact that divorces are expensive. However, given the fees involved, uncontested divorce is the cheapest divorce route. Here’s a list of the costs involved:
- Filing fees and process server fees-$300
- Online Document Preparation Service-$150-$300
Do I Have to Go to Court if My Divorce Isn't Contested?
Despite the uncontested status, both parties will need to go to court for a final hearing from the judge, who will interview both sides, review all documents, and approve of the divorce if all criteria are met.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Georgia?
In Georgia, divorce may be based on fault or no fault-based grounds. No fault-based grounds, as the name suggests, indicates that both parties accept that the marriage is irreparable with no blame on either parties. Fault-based grounds generally indicate behavior like:
- Habitual intoxication
- Willful and continued desertion by either of the spouses for one year
- Conviction of either spouse for a crime that offends the community's sentiment or accepted standard, resulting in a sentence of two years or more in prison.
- Habitual drug addiction
- Physical or mental cruelty
- Incurable mental illness
Do I Need a Lawyer in Georgia to Get a Divorce?
In most uncontested divorces, you don’t need a lawyer. This is also true for Georgia. Many choose to avoid it to save on expensive legal fees. Resources are available to assist you to complete the process on your own, but hiring a professional can always be done to resolve confusion and protect self-interest.
Can I Get Divorced in Georgia Even if I Was Married in Another State?
Yes, if the six-month residency requirement is fulfilled, you can get divorced in Georgia.
Can I File for Divorce in Georgia Even if We’re Still Living Together?
You can file for divorce even if you are living together, as long as you are legally separated, i.e., you are not in a marital relationship.
What if I Want to Stop My Divorce?
If both parties decide to back down from the divorce, it is possible until the point that the divorce is finalized by filing a petition. After it is finalized, you will need to go through a marriage ceremony if you wish to remarry.
Here are a few more additional tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure you both want a divorce
- Understand the benefits of pursuing an uncontested divorce
- Put grudges aside
- Develop a business attitude
- Agree on what needs to be settled
- Begin with something easy
- Kids are not property
- Negotiate in good faith
- Don’t be petty
Other Things to Know
These additional things may be required in some but not all divorce processes.
When you file for your divorce, a temporary order helps avoid conflicts regarding access to assets or child custody and prevents your spouse from selling or getting rid of valuables or properties.
For situations involving harassment, threats, domestic violence, and child abuse, a temporary protective order can help protect you and your family. You may also need to hire a legal representative in such cases.
Keep in mind that fights involving divorce can be recorded or documented, so be careful about your actions and don’t let anger override your common sense. Threatening or violent actions can complicate things and lead to dire consequences. Divorce is a difficult process, but the cooperation of both parties can allow for an amicable separation. The relationship may have ended with bad memories, but closing this chapter of your lives doesn’t have to leave a bad taste in your mouth. Both of you deserve to start afresh and leave the past behind.