The decision to divorce is never easy. We know you may be overwhelmed with complex emotions and confused about the necessary steps and issues that must be resolved as part of the divorce process. You probably have questions about property division, how to determine appropriate levels of financial support and how to minimize the emotional impact of divorce on your child. At Banks, Stubbs & McFarland, our experienced divorce attorneys will explain your legal rights and the legal process. With efficient, effective strategies, we arm you with the facts you need to make sound decisions.
Call 770-887-1209 today to schedule your appointment with one of our attorneys at our Cumming or Buford office.
Mr. Stubbs’ knowledge of the Georgia legal system is second to NONE. Although the circumstances of my case were not the best (divorce), Mr. Stubbs fully advised me of my rights as a father and helped and informed me through every step of the way. I highly recommend this true professional in his field.
Our family law attorneys can handle every aspect of your uncontested, contested, or high-asset and complex divorce, such as:
- Child support
- Child custody and visitation
- Alimony and spousal support
- Property division
- Modifications and enforcement of child support, child custody and visitation
- Contempt actions
- Settlement and litigation
Georgia law actually makes the separation prior to a divorce easier than the process in other states. The couples may continue to live together during the legal separation period provided that there are no “marital relations” during this time. If one spouse moves into a different bedroom with the intention of suspending “conjugal activity”, the separation requirement is satisfied.
There is no time limit within Georgia law for how long the couple must be living in either separate residences or bedrooms for separation to be valid. Thirty days or more are suggested, however, in order to show that the couple truly intend to dissolve the marriage. Accordingly, the couple should try to have some documentation or proof for when the separation occurred.
It is important to remember that a sexual act between the married couple could nullify the legal separation. Thus, support payments and the divorce could be compromised if a spouse argues that the couple had some form of “make-up relations.”
If you have questions as to whether or not you and your spouse have completed the process for a legal separation, schedule an appointment with one of our top family law attorneys today.
How to File for Divorce in Georgia
After the couple has completed a legal separation, one spouse will file for divorce. In order to file in Georgia, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for 6 months or more. Proof of residency can be anything from a driver’s license, voter registration, library cards, bills, etc. Filing must occur in the county where at least one spouse lives or has a place of business.
The spouse who initiates the divorce, the person known as the “petitioner,” files a complaint with the Superior Court of Georgia. This is true even if the divorce is uncontested. The complaint states that a divorce is requested and typically list why the marriage is ending. The form identifies if the divorce will be “no fault” or not and addresses your current living arrangements, child custody and support goals, alimony and a brief description of your assets and debt. The form is meant to be a short summary, so you do not need to go in extensive detail.
After the complaint is filed with the clerk, the papers are served to the other party, the “respondent.” In an amicable divorce, a spouse may simply hand over the papers. In other circumstances, the papers may be mailed, served by a member of law enforcement or served by publication.
Once the papers are served, the respondent must file a response. He or she will either agree with the petitioner, or present new or different information. The response must be filed within 30 days if the respondent lives in Georgia, 60 days if the spouse is out of state and 90 days if the spouse is out of the country.
The divorce process that follows is different depending on if it a contested or uncontested divorce. There are different forms that need completion and though a hearing is necessary in both cases, contested divorces may require more than one.
The paperwork for a divorce in Georgia is more complex than many realize. Don’t handle this traumatic experience by yourself. With offices in Cumming and Buford, the experienced divorce attorneys at Banks, Stubbs and McFarland are available to serve clients throughout North Georgia.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
Ending a marriage is a complicated process. You may be overwhelmed by the legal obstacles. Expert attorneys will take the time to listen to you and to explain your options. Our goal is to help you through this difficult process and protect your legal rights.
What is the Difference between an Uncontested and a Contested Divorce?
The terminology surrounding a divorce is confusing. Many clients do not understand if they have a contested or uncontested divorce. To clarify, a divorce requires that the couple compromise on three issues:
Generally speaking, if the couple agrees with the goals and terms surrounding those three issues, the divorce is considered uncontested. It does not matter if one party wishes to stay married. If the couple is completely following a set plan, a prenuptial agreement or separation agreement, the divorce is uncontested. Uncontested divorces are generally quicker and less expensive than contested ones, but that does not mean that the process is necessarily easy in the state of Georgia. An uncontested divorce usually takes about a month to finalize.
If the parties cannot agree on all aspects of the three main issues listed above, the divorce is considered contested. Contested divorces do not always come with anger and aggression between the parties. Disagreement may arise in even the most amicable of divorces. The parties may just need help communicating, compromising, drafting, and executing the terms of the divorce. Regardless of circumstances, a contested divorce could take months or even years to finalize if the parties can't seem to agree on the terms.
Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, contact the attorneys at Banks, Stubbs and McFarland to manage the process for you. Call 770-887-1209 today schedule a meeting with one of our skilled family law professionals.
“Robert ‘Beau’ Stubbs is a warm and caring man who will fight for you and help you achieve your legal goals. I was sideswiped with an unexpected divorce action and was not in great emotional standing when I first went to Mr. Stubbs. He helped me see what was important and figure out where I wanted to end up. It has been over a year since my divorce was final and I still call on him for issues that arise. He is a no ‘non-sense’ straight forward respected attorney.” – a client
Questions? Do You Want To Talk To A Lawyer? Contact Us.
Arrange your initial consultation at our law office in Cumming, Georgia, by calling 770-887-1209 or use the contact form below.
What are grounds for divorce in Georgia?
Georgia resident may be familiar with the term “no-fault divorce,” but Georgia does not define divorce in terms of “no-fault” or “at-fault.” The most commonly used reason in divorce pleadings is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. That is, there is no specific fault for any party. However, Georgia law still contains other grounds for divorce. These are set out in Georgia Code 19-5-3. Some of the grounds available deal with conditions that are present at the time of the marriage. For example:
- The parties are too closely related to have been legally married
- One of the parties lacks the mental capacity to consent at the time of marriage
- Fraud or duress was used to secure the marriage
- The husband is impotent
- The wife is pregnant by someone other than the person she marries at the time of the marriage
Other grounds for divorce involve issues that develop during the marriage. These can include:
- Willful cruelty
- Desertion by a party for over a year
- Habitual drunkenness or drug addiction
- An incurable mental illness
- The conviction of a party for a crime involving moral turpitude along with a prison sentence of at least two years
In most cases, the irretrievably broken (similar to a no-fault divorce) will likely be most beneficial, due to the lack of a need to prove any specific elements. If you are contemplating divorce, you should consult a Georgia family law attorney to determine which grounds best fit your situation. Call 770-887-1209 to schedule your appointment with one of our divorce attorneys or use our contact form to arrange a consultation.
Why do I need an attorney for an uncontested divorce?
Though you may believe your uncontested divorce will be easy, you are strongly encouraged to hire an attorney. Many documents are required in a divorce in Georgia, such as financial affidavits, child support worksheets, settlement agreements and other pleadings. Our attorneys will ensure that these are completed properly to prevent additional costs and delays from occurring in your case. Additionally, legal proceedings such as hearings, mediations and trials are still possible in an uncontested divorce and our experienced attorneys will handle these matters and ensure that your rights are protected. A lawyer cannot represent both parties in a divorce. If your spouse has hired an attorney, you need one as well, to ensure that your interests are protected. Here are some concerns that arise when you are not protected by a lawyer during a divorce: 1. Terms may not be fair without an attorney. Just because you and your spouse agree on a financial payment or custody arrangement, that may not mean you are receiving all that you are entitled to by law. Lawyers know what is fair and equitable and will ensure you receive what you deserve. 2. Discovery only takes place with an attorney. Though you may trust your former spouse, only an attorney can require full disclosure of assets and finances. Without a lawyer supervising the divorce, your spouse could hide or move money and property to prevent you from receiving your fair share. 3. Attorneys are the best at anticipating changes or disagreements. Though you and your spouse may see things eye to eye now, you still need an attorney for future issues. Having an attorney from the start will make the process easier and less time-consuming should an uncontested divorce become contested. Similarly, attorneys need to supervise custody and financial agreements to ensure that you are protected should there be a change in circumstances such as relocation of the child or an increase or decrease in finances. Don’t let your uncontested divorce leave you unprotected. Call 770-887-1209 now to schedule your appointment with expert divorce attorneys at Banks, Stubbs and McFarland today!