Divorces are devastating to the parties involved, and the situation could be worse if they have to be contested in court. In Georgia, one of the parties can seek a divorce on the ground that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Such a party must show that they can no longer be together with the other and that reconciliation isn’t possible.
A party may also seek a divorce, citing other reasons, ranging from irreconcilable differences to behavioral grounds like cruelty and adultery. However, divorces may not always be contested in a court. Uncontested divorces are a great way for parties to leave a marriage without the lengthy and draining court process. If you and your partner are separating in Georgia, our uncontested divorce lawyers are here to help.
Overview of Uncontested Divorces in Georgia
For a divorce to be uncontested, parties must show that they have resolved all the essential marital issues. Most importantly, they have agreed on all issues in the divorce, including:
- How they will share custody, parenting time (visitation), and parenting responsibilities
- Amount and duration of child support, if any
- Amount and duration of spousal support (alimony), if any
- Division of all marital property
- Division of all marital debt
Before proceeding with an uncontested divorce in Georgia, certain conditions have to be met. One of them is residency. According to O.C.G.A. section 19-5-2, one of the spouses should reside in the state for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. Secondly, the party seeking the divorce must have “grounds” or legal reasons for the same. On matters of divorce, Georgia is both a fault and a no-fault state, and a party may have “fault” or “no-fault” grounds for filing a divorce.
For fault-based grounds, the party seeking the divorce claims that the other party did something wrong. For no-fault grounds, a party doesn’t necessarily blame the other for the divorce. In most cases, the party seeking the divorce claims that they can no longer be in the marriage because it is irretrievably broken. However, Georgia law explicitly states that a divorce based on an irretrievable marriage can’t be granted until at least 30 days from the date the divorce papers are served to the other party.
Filing an Uncontested Divorce in Georgia
Uncontested divorces are simple and smooth where a couple has few assets and no minor children. These divorces also work well for self-supporting spouses, or where each spouse is clearly capable of supporting themselves. In uncontested divorces in Georgia, there are several steps that must be followed for a successful process. First, you must file a complaint for divorce, sometimes called a petition. Complaint forms for no-children uncontested divorces are relatively uncomplicated and offer the best route to a divorce.
Where children are involved, the complaint form for uncontested divorce becomes more complex. The party filing the complaint must address issues of custody, child support, and parenting time. It is also required that parties fill out a Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit, which details the spouses’ assets, incomes, and expenses.
Do Uncontested Divorces in Georgia Go Before a Judge?
Under Georgia state law, spouses may finalize an uncontested divorce through any of the two ways:
- Final hearing in court
- Motion for Judgement on the Pleadings, which is often out of court
There are several factors that apply in determining the option to be used in an uncontested divorce case. To begin with, only a professional Georgia family law attorney can legally submit a Motion of Judgement on the Pleadings. Differently put, unless you are working with a Georgia divorce lawyer, then you are obliged to go to court or before a judge to finalize your uncontested divorce.
Additionally, the motion has to be approved by the county court handling the divorce case. It is not uncommon for some judges to deny such motions, especially if the divorce involves child custody. In such cases, judges may request a hearing for the case.
Parties representing themselves in an uncontested divorce in Georgia are required to appear for a final hearing in the designated county court. Generally, an uncontested divorce is not as always as black and white. Whether you have to appear before a judge to wrap up your uncontested divorce will depend on the county of residence or even a judge. Particularly, spouses and their attorneys don’t have any control over the judge assigned to their divorce case. That means that spouses may have to appear before a judge for a final hearing to finalize their divorce, even if they have resolved all issues regarding the divorce.
Learn How Our Lawyers Can Help Your Uncontested Divorce
While uncontested divorce gives spouses a chance to settle issues and finalize the divorce without necessarily going through the court process, one may not always rule out the chances of going before a judge to finalize the divorce. This is especially the case when there are issues surrounding child custody and support. Our Georgia uncontested divorce firm is here to help you through this process.