Unfortunately sometimes relationships in our lives can become unhealthy for us mentally and even physically. When this relationship is the one with our husband or wife, a possible solution is divorce. There can be a myriad of feelings from anger or frustration to hope and relief when a client meets with me in my office contemplating or desiring to begin the divorce process. Divorce is never fun, but if done correctly can begin a path towards more healthy relationships and brighter futures. However as it was in marriage it also is true in divorce as there are two different individuals involved with sometimes different expectations. The better both sides can come to a clear understanding and work together to accomplish the divorce, the better the chance it has to not be drawn out and more damage done.
In 2009 the U.S. Census Bureau compiled data on divorce and found that the national divorce rate was 9.2 for men and 9.7 for women per 1000. While the South had the highest divorce rate for men ranging from 10.0 to 13.5 per 1,000. Also for women ranging from 10.7 to 16.2 per 1000. The Census also found that children living with a parent who divorced in 2009 were more likely to live in a household headed by their mother (75 percent) than in a household headed by their father (25 percent).
No Fault Divorce
Georgia is like many if not all states in the country that allows “no fault” divorce, meaning you do not need to have infidelity, abuse, or any other specific reason to get a divorce. You can simply claim the marriage is irretrievably broken. If children are involved the court’s main focus will be ensuring the children are taken care of along with any fair and just (equitable not equal) property, money or other asset division between the spouses. If infidelity, abuse or some other traditional type of “fault” is involved by your spouse this will most likely be looked at by the judge if your divorce is contested and may help your case.
How to Get Divorced
It is a process to get a divorce. As such it is always advisable to at least have a lawyer review your divorce documents if not directly representing you and creating your divorce documents to ensure your rights are protected and you have considered all aspects of your divorce as a legally binding separation from your spouse. It will also cost you money either way. The court fee alone will be around $200 in most counties in Georgia and if your spouse must be served it can be an additional $50 or so. If you have children you are near reckless going alone without a lawyer as you are now risking your rights and your children’s rights to proper visitation, custody and especially child support payments if the paperwork is not completed by taking into account your current and possible future circumstances. If your spouse has a high earning capacity compared to your earning capacity it is possible to get alimony, which is money paid to you to compensate you for your soon diminished quality of life. Alimony or a simple request to have a higher earning spouse pay for part of your lawyer are all ways you can defray the expense to hire a lawyer. Divorce is not necessarily the best time to cut corners. If you can afford an attorney, hire one. If you can’t afford an attorney, at least pay a document review fee to have a lawyer review the divorce documents and give you some advice about them. If there are any concerns about one spouse having proper safety alone with the children a lawyer can help you have an emergency hearing in front of a judge to set temporary custody, visitation, and monetary support if necessary while your divorce is pending a final resolution.
Uncontested or Contested Divorce
Once you file your divorce paperwork and have your spouse served, they will have 30 days to file a response to your divorce paperwork with the court. If they do not, your divorce becomes uncontested and the judge most likely will then sign your final order incorporating your agreement to divide assets and care for the children into it. Your divorce is then final and you can use that final order to show all applicable parties or organizations that you are legally divorced. If a response is filed by your spouse with the court within the 30 days after they receive the divorce paperwork, the divorce becomes contested and a hearing will be scheduled by the court to hear your case or a mediation will be scheduled in front of a neutral mediator to see if you can resolve your differences outside of court. Either way the divorce will end if all else fails in front of a judge who will make a final decision based on the facts and situations presented by you and your spouse and the divorce will be final that way too. If child support or alimony is part of your divorce the spouse responsible for it must begin paying or face a contempt charge with the court. It is also necessary to review your last will and testament, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, titles to vehicles and real estate to ensure that all beneficiaries are changed to remove one spouse if named on any of those contracts or titles if applicable and authorized by your divorce.
If you feel divorce is your next step and would like to speak with an attorney for a Free Initial Consultation, please give my office a call today to talk about your case. I look forward to speaking with you.