Guide to the Divorce Process in Georgia
Divorce is never easy, but understanding the steps in the divorce process can make it easier for both spouses. The divorce process in Georgia has many steps, and each one serves a purpose. This guide will explain to you the steps in the divorce process in Georgia, and will help you understand what is entailed in each step.
Complaint and Answer
While most spouses who are considering divorce have discussed divorce ahead of time, the legal divorce process in Georgia does not start until one spouse has filed an official complaint. This is required even in cases of “no fault” divorce, which represent most divorce cases in the state. In the complaint, the spouse initiating the divorce (called the “plaintiff”) will be required to state the grounds for the divorce, including irreconcilable differences.
In addition to the grounds, the plaintiff will have to specify what kind of “relief” is being sought. Relief here refers to legal remedies that the court can grant you. The most obvious kind of relief is the divorce, but other things that you can ask for include child custody or visitation, spousal support (alimony), or temporary use of your marital home. After the complaint is filed, the other spouse files an answer to the complaint that asks for the things that they want in the divorce.
Discovery is the part of the divorce process in Georgia where both spouses seek information about the other, usually having to do with finances and parenting. Sometimes, the discovery process is relatively uncomplicated, especially when spouses work together to make sure documents are available for each other. Other times, discovery can be a messy and complex part of the divorce process in Georgia.
A brief hearing will be held to decide issues of custody, visitation, and who keeps the marital home during the divorce process in Georgia. This hearing will not determine these issues permanently, but it is a good place to temporarily solve any problems requiring immediate attention.
Most of the time, you will be asked to attend mediation with your spouse. In mediation, you will be asked to try to negotiate an agreement with your spouse. A divorce agreement, also called a settlement, can sometimes be negotiated with the help of a third-party mediator. This mediator can make the divorce process in Georgia easier by letting you avoid the combative nature of a divorce trial in favor of a carefully negotiated agreement.
If mediation fails, you may have to go to trial. Witnesses can be called on each side and the disputed issues will be discussed by both parties in front of a divorce judge. The divorce process will conclude when you are issued a judgment that decides all of the issues that were contested during the divorce, including child visitation and custody, equitable division of property, and anything else that might be at issue in the complaint and answer mentioned earlier.