Divorce 101

The first thing to know about divorce in Georgia is that if you want one you are getting one and if you are served with one you are getting one. What this means is that Georgia is a no fault state, which means that you do not have to prove why you are getting divorced and the court does not decide if you are getting a divorce. The courts role in a no fault divorce is to divide the assets, debts and determine the best interests of the children. However, Georgia does also allow the filing of a divorce on fault grounds. These include issues such as adultery, habitual intoxication and abuse among several others. These grounds must be proven and if proven may increase the amount awarded in the division of assets or alimony. These issues will also come into play if custody is an issue. There are reasons to pursue these grounds and evidence necessary for this proof but I will discuss this in Divorce 102. For now I want you to know what is necessary for the filing of a divorce in Georgia.

In Georgia you must be a resident for at least six months before the filing of a divorce. So if you left another state recently and seek a divorce you still may be forced to file in your home state or wait for six months before bringing this action. There is no way around this requirement. You must also have been in a bona fide state of separation for thirty days before filing the divorce. There are no requirements for counseling or prolonged waiting periods in Georgia; however, you must be separated as husband and wife for thirty days before filing. This means that you are not sharing a physical relationship. If these criteria are met and you know what grounds you wish to file under you can proceed. The complaint will be filed and served on your spouse and then the process of litigation will begin. The person served will need to file an answer in thirty days; however, the lack of an answer is not an automatic default in a domestic matter, but it does hinder the person’s not answering ability to litigate and seek information from the other party. It is important you seek the guidance of an attorney during this process as there a multitude of rules and consequences if these rules are not followed. You must exchange requested and required information, you may need to have a temporary hearing to establish support, most counties require mediation to take place before a hearing, and finally there may be a final trial to resolve all remaining issues.