Can I Stop My Divorce?
Along with every other U.S. State, Georgia has a no-fault divorce law. In Georgia, a person can file for divorce on the grounds that their marriage is ‘irretrievably broken’. This means that they do not need to ‘prove’ that anyone was to blame for the separation.
In effect, the state’s no fault law means that neither spouse has the unilateral authority to stop a divorce. If your partner wants to get a divorce in Georgia, they will eventually be able to do it. Your spouse does not need your permission, and they do not need to prove that you engaged in any type of misconduct, or even did anything wrong at all.
However, while you cannot simply stop a divorce on your own, you do have some options available to slow down the process. During this time, you may be able to repair your marriage or work out a more fair divorce settlement.
Both Spouses Can Agree to Withdraw a Divorce Filing
If your divorce has not yet been finalized, then the case can still be withdrawn. To get a divorce filing dismissed in Georgia, both parties need to agree that they want the case to be withdrawn. If your spouse has filed for divorce, and you believe that the marriage can still be fixed, your spouse may be willing to withdraw the case.
Of course, this is an extremely sensitive issue. As difficult as it is, divorce is the right option for some couples. Your spouse may have already made up his or her mind. That being said, in many cases, it is worth discussing the issue. You and your spouse may be able to work through your problems through professional counseling.
You Can File an Answer or Counterclaim
If you have been served with divorce papers, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to simply not respond. Ignoring the issue will not make your divorce go away. Quite the contrary: If you fail to respond to divorce papers, the divorce will be finalized even more quickly. This is because a default judgement will almost certainly be entered against you. This means that your spouse will largely control the terms of your divorce. It is in your best interest to file an answer or counterclaim to divorce papers. At this point, your divorce will be contested. You and your spouse will have an opportunity to work through your issues in order to come to settlement terms on your divorce. If settlement terms cannot be reached, then the case will go to court.
Contact Our Georgia Divorce Attorneys Today
At Mitchell & Crunk, our top-rated Georgia family law attorneys have deep experience handling complex divorces cases. If you need help with your divorce, or if you’re asking “can I stop my divorce?”, please contact our law firm today for a free case evaluation. From our offices in Winder and Commerce, we represent family law clients throughout the region, including in Lawrenceville, Monroe, Auburn, Statham, Hoschton, Athens, Jefferson, Apple Valley, Nicholson, Braselton, Homer, and Watkinsville.
Do You Have to Go to Court During a Divorce
If you are getting divorced in Georgia, you may have considered whether or not you will have to go to court. The answer to this question depends on the specific circumstances of your case and whether or not your divorce is still being disputed. Many divorces are able to settle outside of court with the help of lawyers and signed agreements, but couples who are unable to agree on the division of assets or who have hotly debated property or custody disputes will likely want to go in front of a judge. In this post, our Winder, GA divorce lawyers explain exactly what you need to know about your requirements to attend court during divorce proceedings.
Contested Divorce in Georgia
If your divorce is contested, you will need to go to court. If you and your spouse cannot reach a full and final settlement on the terms of your marital separation, then a hearing will be necessary to make a determination on all issues that are still in dispute in your case. This is true whether you and your former partner still have disagreements over property division, alimony, child custody, or any other important family law issue. If you are involved in a contested divorce case, you should be represented by a skilled Georgia divorce attorney.
Uncontested Divorce in Georgia
If your divorce is uncontested, you will likely be able to avoid going to court. Under Georgia state law (O.C.G.A. § 19-5-10(a)) there are two ways to finalize an uncontested divorce:
- Through a final hearing (in court); and
- Through a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (out of court).
In determining which option will be used in your uncontested divorce case, there are several different factors that will need to be considered. To start, only a qualified Georgia family law attorney has the legal authority to submit a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. In other words, if you are not working with a divorce lawyer, then you will be required to go to court to finalize your divorce. In addition, your motion must be approved by the county court that is handling your case. There are some judges who are reluctant to approve this type of motion, especially if the divorce case involves issues of child custody. The judge may require a hearing in your case.
Still, it is possible that you and your partner can finalize your uncontested divorce without actually going to court. It is also possible that only one spouse will actually need to appear in court, or your Georgia divorce lawyer may be able to appear in court on your behalf. If you have specific questions regarding whether or not you should appear, it is highly recommended that you consult with a lawyer.
Contact Our Georgia Divorce Lawyers Today
At Mitchell & Crunk, our family law attorneys are standing by, ready to help you with your case. For a free, fully confidential consultation, please contact us today. With offices in Winder and Commerce, we represent clients throughout the region, including in Jackson County, Barrow County, Banks County, Walton County, Gwinnett County, Clarke County, Madison County, and Franklin County.
Do I Need an Attorney to File a Divorce?
As well-known divorce lawyers, we have been asked on more than one occasion, “Do I need an attorney to file for divorce?” The answer to this is, unfortunately, not black and white. While an attorney is not required to file for divorce, some divorces are so involved and complex that it is impossible to move forward without the expertise of an attorney. While Georgia does not require that couples hire lawyers when seeking a divorce, getting a divorce attorney might be to your advantage. To decide whether you should hire one, consider the following factors.
Is Your Divorce Contested or Uncontested?
As part of your divorce, a judge will need to untangle a married couple’s financial relationship, as well as decide sensitive issues involving children. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse agree to the following:
- The reason for the divorce. Georgia allows you to seek a no-fault divorce in which you allege that the marriage has broken down. The state also allows several fault options, such as adultery and desertion.
- Child custody. Some couples divide custody 50/50, but this doesn’t work for everybody. Instead, one parent may get primary custody or other types of custody arrangements depending on the certain circumstances of your divorce case.
- Child support. The state has a formula a judge will use, but you can get more child support for extenuating circumstances, such as a child’s disability.
- Division of marital property. This is property you acquired together while married, not property each spouse brought individually into the marriage.
- Division of marital debts. These are debts you are jointly responsible for.
- Alimony. One spouse can request spousal maintenance to help them get back on their feet or to support them indefinitely.
If you disagree on any of the above issues, then your divorce is “contested.” This means you will submit evidence to a judge, telling him what you want, and the judge will rule. In a contested divorce, you definitely need a lawyer’s help building the strongest case on your behalf.
If, by chance, you and your spouse agree on all of the above, you might be able to file for divorce without a lawyer.
Do You Understand Your Rights?
Even if you agree with your spouse on all the above issues, you can still benefit from meeting with a lawyer. A lawyer can advise you about your rights, which you might be unaware of. For example, do you know if you qualify for alimony? Do you know if you can ask for more child support than the state formula provides? A lawyer can analyze your situation and advise you about your best options for coming out of the divorce in a strong position.
You should also hire a lawyer if you are intimidated by your spouse or fear for your safety. It is very easy to be bullied into agreeing to something that is not in the best interest of you or your children. If you think this is a possibility, reach out to a Georgia divorce lawyer now.
Can You Learn Court Procedures?
If you choose to proceed without a lawyer, then the judge will expect you to meet all deadlines and follow all court rules, just as a lawyer would. Many people are very busy and do not have the time to commit to their cases. In this situation, hiring a lawyer is well worth the price since they can make sure you submit everything to the court in a timely manner.
Call a Winder, Georgia Divorce Lawyer Today
Divorce can be emotionally draining and legally complex. Men and women who try to go through a divorce alone can make critical errors which are impossible to fix once the judge issues the divorce decree. To protect your rights, you need a divorce lawyer in your corner.
Helpfully, Mitchell & Crunk provides potential clients with a free consultation where you can ask any question you want. To schedule your consultation, please reach out to us today.
Who Gets Child Custody in a Georgia Divorce?
For Georgia parents, there are few things that are more stressful than going through a child custody battle. Nothing should interfere with your relationship with your child. At Mitchell & Crunk, our compassionate Winder child custody lawyers have extensive experience representing clients in these types of family law cases. To help you better understand your parental rights, here we explain the basics of the child custody laws in Georgia.
Georgia Favors Shared Custody
As a starting point, it is important for Georgia parents to understand that state law strongly favors some form of shared custody. Georgia policymakers have made it clear that, in their view, it is best for children to have a positive, ongoing relationship with both of their parents to the extent that it is reasonably possible. As such, some form of joint legal custody will be awarded in the majority of cases. Of course, it is not always possible for a child to have a positive relationship with both of their parents. Unfortunately, some parents are simply unfit to carry out their duties. Sole custody, in these types of situations, then is a possibility.
Further, what actually constitutes “shared custody” can vary widely. In most cases, one of the child’s parents will be awarded primary physical custody. Though, there are some exceptions to this as well. Additionally, one parent will likely need to be granted final decision-making authority for situations in which good faith efforts to reach a mutual decision breakdown or for situations in which emergency circumstances have arisen.
The bottom line is that child custody arrangements must always be created on a case-by-case basis. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions in this area of law. For this reason, it is critically important to have strong, skilled family law advocate by your side when you are going through a child custody dispute.
Understanding the ‘Best Interests of the Child’ Standard
Similar to many other states, Georgia operates under the ‘best interests of the child’ legal standard. Should a Georgia family law court need to step in and make any ruling regarding your custody case, the court will look to this legal standard. These guidelines ensure that the child’s well-being always comes first, ahead of the desires and conveniences of either of the parents. Further, this standard is comprehensive; Georgia courts will assess many different factors when determining which type of custody arrangement is best for the child, including:
- Physical safety;
- Mental health;
- Overall well-being;
- Social development; and
- For older children, their own wishes.
To prevail in a custody dispute, you and your family law lawyer must be able to make a strong case that your proposed custody arrangement is what is truly in the best interests of your child.
Contact Our Georgia Child Custody Attorneys Today
At Mitchell & Crunk, our Georgia child custody lawyers are standing by, ready to help you fight for your parental rights. We understand just how sensitive and difficult these cases can be. To learn more about what our team can do for you, please call us today to set up your free initial case review. We have offices in Winder and Commerce and represent parents throughout the region, including in Jackson County, Barrow County, and Hall County.
What is the Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment?
If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Georgia, you might be wondering if you should actually file for divorce or if you should seek an annulment. As experienced family law attorneys in Georgia, we often hear our clients as what the difference between a divorce and an annulment is. We want to help clarify that divorce and annulment are two very different things, and they cannot be used interchangeably.
In brief, an annulment functions to say the marriage never legally happened, while a divorce functions to say that the marriage happened, but it ended. To explain the legal ramifications of either decision when ending a marriage, we can turn to Georgia law.
When Annulment is Appropriate
Annulment is only appropriate when the marriage is “declared void by law”. One of the more common misconceptions about annulment is that you can get an annulment—instead of a divorce—if your marriage only lasted for a short time. For instance, maybe you made a quick decision to marry someone you had known for only a few weeks, and after being married for a similar amount of time, you realize you made a mistake. To be clear, annulments are not just for marriages in which the spouses decide they made a mistake, and an annulment does not have anything to do with how long you were married or whether the marriage was likely to last. Instead, annulments are only for marriages that were not legally binding in the first place.
Under O.C.G.A. 19-4-1, annulments of marriage can only be granted when the marriage is “declared void by law.” In other words, annulments are for marriages that are not legal to begin with. Some of the following reasons that a marriage can be annulled include but are not limited to the following:
- One or both of the parties is already married to someone else;
- Parties are related either by blood or by marriage;
- One or both of the parties was underage when the marriage occurred;
- One or both of the parties was forced to get married through fraud or coercion; and
- One or both of the parties was incompetent at the time of the wedding.
It is important to note, however, that just because someone falls into one of those categories, that fact alone does not automatically qualify them for an annulment. To be sure, the statute clarifies that if children already have been born or “are to be born as a result of the marriage,” then an annulment cannot be granted.
When Divorce is Appropriate
Divorce is appropriate when a marriage is declared “void by law” or when a married couple wants to end their legal union, meaning that divorce is the only option for a married couple whose union was legal in the first place. At the same time, in order to be eligible a petition for divorce, grounds for divorce (O.C.G.A. 19-5-3) must exist. There are numerous grounds for divorce, and an experienced Georgia family law attorney can help explain your eligibility.
Contact a Georgia Divorce Lawyer. If you still have questions about the difference between annulment and divorce, or if you want to file a petition for annulment or for divorce, a Georgia divorce lawyer can help. Contact Mitchell & Crunk today.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement and Should I Sign One?
If marriage is in your near future, you may be wondering: what is a prenuptial agreement and should I sign one? A prenuptial agreement (or “prenup”) is a contract that a couple enters before marriage. It contains details about assets and property rights of each person should the marriage end in divorce. While each state has either equitable distribution or community property laws, a prenuptial agreement can override these laws in the event that the couple looking to marry ever gets divorced.
Prenuptial agreements are often seen as unromantic or even cruel, carrying with them the weight of divorce before even entering into the social contract of marriage. However, a prenuptial agreement can certainly be helpful in the event of a separation. In modern society, a large number of marriages end in divorce as either spouse can change or make terrible decisions, and as such, prenuptial agreements can be useful for many people who enter into a marriage and yet are still interested in protecting their assets.
Who Needs a Prenuptial Agreement?
If you’re coming into a marriage with children, a business or a significant amount of assets, you should consider a prenuptial agreement. It protects your financial future and the future of loved ones, especially if you are getting married at an older age. Should you get divorced, you could end up with nothing in retirement. Everything that you worked so hard to achieve could be gone in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement protects your assets while avoiding surprises.
Prenuptial agreements have requirements and limitations, however. You will be required to disclose all your assets. If you hide any, the prenuptial agreement could be deemed null and void. You must also give your significant other time to review the prenuptial agreement. He or she may want to discuss it with a lawyer. You should never force your future spouse to sign an agreement hours before the wedding, as this situation could provide grounds for the prenuptial agreement to be void or at least coerced.
Prenuptial agreements protect assets in a variety of ways, but there are things they cannot do. They cannot be used to avoid child support or hash out custody arrangements. They also cannot promote divorce. A prenup (prenuptial agreement) with any of these details will be thrown out in court.
Who Does Not Need a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenup offers many benefits, but it is not needed in all marriages. In reality, it does not always make sense for a young couple getting married for the first time to get one, as they may not have many possessions yet that require protection. In addition, those fresh out of school typically do not have much and don’t need to protect any assets. However, if there is an unequal balance of assets, then a prenup may be ideal. If someone comes into a marriage with an inheritance, for example, or children from a previous relationship, it may be wise to discuss a prenuptial agreement, regardless of the person’s age.
Contact a Georgia Family Law Attorney
If you are about to get married, you may want to consider a prenuptial agreement. Such an agreement can be beneficial for many parties, but if you don’t consider one, you could be losing out in the event of a divorce. Let the team at Mitchell & Crunk help you understand your options and make sure your rights are protected. Contact us today at (678) 701-6252">678-701-6252 for a free phone consultation.
What Happens When you Are Served Divorce Papers?
In Georgia, a divorce starts when one spouse serves his or her partner with divorce papers via a sheriff’s deputy or an official process server. The documents colloquially known as “divorce papers” include a copy of the Complaint for Divorce and an Acknowledgement of Service form, the latter of which is your way of officially acknowledging that you have been served with divorce paperwork.
When you receive divorce papers, it can feel like your head is spinning. Getting divorced is a complicated process, and it can feel especially overwhelming when you are caught off guard. Start working with a divorce lawyer as soon as possible after receiving this paperwork to ensure that you do not miss necessary filing deadlines and that your rights are protected through the divorce process.
Do You Have to Respond to the Paperwork?
The divorce papers you receive will also include your spouse’s proposed divorce terms, such as how to divide your marital property and a child custody plan. You can agree to your spouse’s proposed settlement or dispute it.
After you are served with divorce papers, you have 30 days to file your own responsive pleading, also known as an “answer.” If you do not file a responsive pleading, you consent to your partner continuing the divorce process without your input. If you miss this deadline, you typically can file your response shortly afterward. Do not wait to call the court and file your response as soon as you can – the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for you to express your interests and achieve your divorce goals.
Do You Need to Attend any Hearings?
If you and your spouse agree to your divorce settlement terms, you can state this in your response to the divorce paperwork and have the court schedule your final hearing. By taking this route to divorce, you can end your marriage in a little over a month.
But many individuals do not agree to their spouses’ proposed divorce terms. When this is the case, the divorce process takes much longer to complete because the couple must reach appropriate divorce orders. A contested divorce can take one year or longer to complete, depending on the complexity of the couple’s divorce and their willingness to compromise with each other. With this kind of divorce, expect a six-month discovery period and interactions with multiple outside professionals, like a financial advisor or a child custody evaluator.
If the couple is capable of working together amicably, they can reach their final divorce settlement through collaboration or mediation. If not, they must litigate their divorce, in which case the couple can expect further hearings to reach appropriate orders based on applicable Georgia laws.
Should You Contact a Lawyer?
Ultimately, yes, it is in your best interests to contact an attorney. If you are asking yourself what happens when you are served divorce papers, it is time to start working with an experienced divorce lawyer. You cannot make your spouse want to stay in your marriage – whether you respond to the divorce papers or not, your marriage is over. Be proactive and start working on your case with a divorce lawyer as soon as possible. To get started with a member of Mitchell & Crunk, LLC, contact our office to schedule your free initial phone consultation.
What Do I Do If My Spouse Goes Missing During Our Divorce?
Divorce is the process of ending your relationship with your spouse and freeing yourself to start over again. But what happens when your spouse beats you to the punch and disappears before a judge can finalize the proceedings? Typically, you can get divorced even though your spouse is missing. But what a judge can award you will depend on whether your spouse disappeared before you filed for divorce or in the middle of the proceedings. Read on to find out what to do when your spouse goes missing during divorce.
Filing for Divorce when Your Spouse is Missing
Every spouse has an opportunity to respond to a divorce petition, which is why you must serve them with the divorce papers. When a spouse is missing, Georgia law 9-11-4(f)(1) allows for notice by publication in a newspaper. Before you can request permission to publish notice, however, you must undertake a diligent search to find your spouse. For example, you should check the following:
- Call friends and relatives and ask if they have seen your spouse.
- Contact professional organizations your spouse has belonged to.
- Reach out to your spouse’s employer and ask if they have a recent address or otherwise know where your spouse is located.
- Perform an Internet search. Check websites like Intelius, which might have the address.
- Contact the Postal Service to request the last address of record.
- Search DMV records.
- Check police or jail records to see if your spouse is in jail or if they have a recent address.
Carefully document each step of your investigation. A judge will not grant you a divorce if you make a cursory search, so be detailed. Follow up any leads that sound promising.
If you still cannot find your spouse, you must submit a sworn statement (affidavit) to the court explaining your search. The court can then order publication of the notice of your divorce, which must run for several weeks. If your spouse does not respond after the last publication, you can move ahead with a default divorce.
Limitations on Default Divorce
A default divorce cannot decide all the issues that you want. For example, a judge lacks power over a missing spouse and therefore cannot order alimony or child support. The judge cannot also decide issues involving child custody and the division of marital property. However, the judge can divorce you, which might be all that you were really seeking.
Proceeding when a Spouse Disappears in the Middle of the Divorce
You might have managed to file for divorce and served papers on your spouse, only for he or she to go missing in the middle of the divorce proceedings. In this situation, the court will continue to hold hearings and advance the case. Because your spouse initially agreed to the court’s jurisdiction, the court should not be limited in what it can award you. Ultimately, you should receive everything that you have asked for in the divorce since your spouse is no longer around to contest these issues.
Speak with a Winder, Georgia Divorce Lawyer
To better understand what you can and cannot accomplish with a default divorce, please schedule a consultation with a Georgia divorce lawyer at Mitchell & Crunk today. We have experience in divorces involving missing spouses and are eager to help you. Contact us today by calling (678) 701-6252">678-701-6252 or sending an online message.
What Are Legal Grounds for Divorce?
Are you considering a divorce in Georgia? Most of us know someone who has filed for divorce, either in Georgia or in another state. While a number of states have what is known as “no fault” divorce, Georgia law still looks a little bit different. In other words, many states in the country have moved toward a system of divorce in which neither spouse is at fault for the divorce, thus making it possible to file for a no fault divorce. In Georgia’s legal divorce system, there are several types of divorce, and included among them is an option of filing for no fault. The grounds for filing for divorce in Georgia fall primarily under the state’s statutory law (O.C.G.A. 19-5-3), which we will explore with you in more detail throughout this post.
Thirteen Total Grounds for Divorce in Georgia
The following grounds for divorce are legally delineated in Georgia as:
- Intermarriage by persons within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity or affinity (in other words, individuals who are too closely related);
- Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage;
- Impotency at the time of the marriage;
- Force, menace, duress, or fraud in obtaining the marriage;
- Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband, at the time of the marriage, unknown to the husband;
- Adultery in either of the parties after marriage;
- Willful and continued desertion by either of the parties for the term of one year;
- The conviction of either party for an offense involving moral turpitude, under which he is sentenced to imprisonment in a penal institution for a term of two years of longer;
- Habitual intoxication;
- Cruel treatment, which shall consist of the willful infliction of pain, bodily or mental, upon the complaining party, such as reasonably justifies apprehension of danger to life, limb, or health;
- Incurable mental illness (in which the party must have been adjudged mentally ill by a court or certified as such by two physicians);
- Habitual drug addiction; and
- The marriage is irretrievably broken.
When Your Divorce in Georgia is Irretrievably Broken
The thirteenth and final ground for divorce under the Georgia statute is that “the marriage is irretrievably broken.” In effect, this ground for divorce functions as a kind of “no fault” ground. In other words, the party who files for divorce only must show that she or he does not want to be married to the other spouse, and that the marriage cannot be repaired. If it were due to any of the previous grounds, the divorce would be classified differently from a “no fault” divorce.
Why would a party want to allege one of the twelve fault-based grounds for divorce instead of a mutual separation? In short, those twelve grounds for divorce can impact a court’s decision about the final outcome of the divorce, including alimony and child support payments in addition to other action it should take concerning criminal charges, such is the case with abuse or any other illegal activity.
Discuss Your Case with a Georgia Divorce Attorney
Are you thinking about filing for divorce in Georgia? An experienced Georgia divorce attorney can help with your case. Contact Mitchell & Crunk for more information about the services we provide.
How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced?
When you are considering divorce in Georgia and trying to plan for the future, you have likely considered how long it takes to get divorced. The answer to this question can vary widely depending upon the specific circumstances of your case. For some people, divorce can take as little as a month. For others, divorce can take many months and can sometimes stretch even longer. Under Georgia law, there are many different factors that can influence the length of time of a divorce case.
When people in Georgia want to learn more about how long it takes to get divorced in the state, they need to consider a number of different frequently asked questions. We will discuss some of those with you below.
Will the Court Need to Decide Child Custody and Visitation?
If you have children under the age of 18 from your marriage, the court will need to decide matters of child custody and visitation. Similar to other states, Georgia courts use a “best interests of the child” standard when making decisions about legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the parent’s right to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing, while physical custody refers to the parent’s right to spend time with the child and to provide care for the child.
Both legal and physical custody can be “joint,” which means the parents share custody, or they can be “sole,” meaning that only one parent has custody. When parents share custody, the court must sign off on a parenting plan, which will clarify such issues as:
- How the parent-child relationship will work with each parent;
- How parents will share in making decisions for the child;
- Where the child will spend time during the week and weekends;
- Where the child will spend holidays; and
- How the parents will handle the child’s transportation.
As you can imagine, these decisions can a substantial amount of time because they are so important. As such, if you have minor children from your marriage, it is likely the divorce process will take longer than if you don’t have children.
Can Both Spouses Agree to Terms Concerning Property Division?
If you are planning to file for divorce, chances are that you have already discussed it with your spouse. In some situations, spouses are able to agree to most or all terms, especially concerning the distribution of marital property. Georgia law requires marital assets and debts to be divided in a way that is fair to both of the spouses. This is known as “equitable distribution.” When the spouses agree that divorce makes sense and can agree to a fair division of their marital property, the court can sign off on that agreement. This is known as “uncontested divorce,” or a situation where the parties essentially agree to terms concerning property division, alimony, and other significant matters.
When the parties do not agree to terms, we call this a “contested divorce.” Sometimes your Georgia divorce lawyer can negotiate with the other party’s divorce attorney to reach an agreement, but often the case needs to go before a judge. This can take quite a long time depending upon the number of different issues involved in the case. Generally speaking, the longer a couple has been married, the more complicated the case (and the longer the divorce proceedings).
Contact a Georgia Divorce Lawyer
How Long Does It Take For a Divorce to Become Finalized?
If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Georgia and want to get this process done as quickly as possible, you are probably asking yourself: “How long does it take for a divorce to become finalized?” We speak with many clients who are planning to file for divorce and who have questions about the length of time that the average divorce takes. In short, there is no specific number of months for a divorce case since everyone’s situation varies so widely. While many Georgia residents go through similar matters in a divorce proceeding (division of marital assets and debts, financial distribution, alimony, child support, etc.), every family has its own specific set of concerns. As such, it is impossible to say with certainty that a divorce takes a precise amount of time for anyone and everyone.
However, we can discuss different factors that play a role in the length of your divorce. We will provide some answers to key questions about Georgia divorce law (Georgia Code § 19-5) below.
Is Your Divorce Uncontested or Contested?
The first question you will want to ask in determining how long it will take for your divorce to be final is whether you are dealing with an uncontested divorce or a contested divorce. Generally speaking, uncontested divorces go much faster than contested divorces. What is the difference?
An uncontested divorce is one in which the spouses generally can agree to terms, and the court can move forward quickly with finalizing the divorce. However, there is still a minimum time limit on an uncontested divorce. Under Georgia law, the court will not issues the divorce decree until 31 days have passed from the date that the divorce petition was filed.
A contested divorce is one in which the parties cannot agree to most or all terms. As you might imagine, when the spouses cannot agree, the court needs to hear the case and ultimately needs to make many different decisions, such as decisions about the division of marital assets, financial support, and child custody. As such, a contested divorce tends to take much longer than an uncontested divorce.
Is One of the Parties Seeking Alimony?
Is one of the parties seeking alimony in the divorce? If so, the court will need to decide whether alimony is appropriate in that particular case, whether it should be temporary or permanent, and how much it should be.
When the court needs to rule on an alimony situation, the divorce proceedings tend to take additional time.
Are There Children From the Marriage?
Are there children from the marriage? Are the children still minors, or is at least one of the children still a minor? If so, then the divorce process is likely to take much longer than if there were no children from the marriage. Particularly in a contested divorce, the court will need to hear both sides when it comes to issues concerning the children, and it will need to enter orders for child support and child custody.
Contact a Divorce Attorney in Georgia
Some divorces are very quick, taking only over a month until they are finalized, while others take much longer. If you need help with your divorce case, you should reach out to a dedicated divorce lawyer in Georgia. Given the complexity of family law in the state, you should not have to go through this difficult process alone when you can have an experienced advocate to help. Contact Mitchell & Crunk to learn more.
How Long Do You Have Pay Alimony in a Georgia Divorce?
For divorcing couples, there are few issues that are more contentious than alimony. To make matters even more challenging, there are many misconceptions regarding the alimony laws in Georgia. Many people simply have no idea whether or not they have to pay alimony at all, let alone the amount and the length of the payments. Ultimately, all alimony-related questions must be answered on a case-by-case basis. There are many different individual factors that must be assessed before an alimony award can be determined. Still, our top-rated Winder divorce attorneys can give some general guidance on questions of alimony.
Types of Alimony in Georgia
Under the Georgia state legal code (Section 19-6-1), there are several different types of alimony. Depending on the type of alimony that is awarded in your case, the payments may either be permanent, temporary or one-time. More specifically, you may be ordered to pay, or granted to receive, any of the following forms of spousal support:
- Permanent alimony: If awarded, this type of alimony will generally last until one party passes away or until the receiving spouse gets remarried. There are some other circumstances in which a Georgia family law court could decide that a modification of the alimony award is appropriate, however, so even permanent alimony isn’t always “permanent”.
- Temporary alimony: In many cases, Georgia courts award alimony for a set period of time. If temporary alimony is awarded in your case, the amount and length of the award will vary depending on the specific facts of your case.
- Rehabilitative alimony: This type of alimony is awarded to help the receiving spouse adjust to the economic realities of post-marriage life. Typically, Georgia courts award rehabilitative alimony to help the economically disadvantaged partner to get on a good economic footing, usually by paying for school or job training. By its very nature, rehabilitative alimony is always temporary.
The Factors that Affect Alimony Calculations
Many different factors can affect alimony awards in Georgia. The amount of alimony owed and the duration of the alimony will always require a close examination of the individual circumstances of the case at hand. Six of the most important factors that courts will consider when crafting alimony awards are as follows:
- The length of the marriage;
- The current financial circumstances of each spouse, including ability to pay and the reasonably anticipated future financial needs;
- The overall standard of living that was established during the course of the marriage;
- The health and age of each spouse;
- The reason why the marriage broke up; and
- The parental contributions, if any, of each party.
To ensure that your family law rights and your financial interests are fully protected, you should always be represented by a qualified divorce attorney during any alimony dispute.
Contact Our Georgia Alimony Attorneys Today
At Mitchell & Crunk, we have extensive experience handling complex divorce and alimony cases. No matter your situation, our team is here to help. To request a free initial review of your case, please contact our law firm today. From our offices in Winder and Commerce, we represent family law clients throughout the region, including in Barrow County, Jackson County, and Clarke County.
How Does Alimony Work?
How Does Alimony Work?
When a married couple is in the process of getting divorced in Georgia, one or both spouses are likely to have questions about Alimony, also called Spousal Support. In particular, if one of the partners has alleged fault-based grounds for divorce, or if one of the partners earned significantly less income than the other during the marriage, many concerns about alimony are likely to arise. The two common types of questions we usually receive about alimony include, “How does alimony work?” and, “Who gets it?” The following article explains in detail what alimony is, why it exists, and how it can help families going through divorce.
Understanding What Alimony Is and Why It Exists
To understand whether or not alimony works, it is important to know what it is and why it exists. Under Georgia law (O.C.G.A. 19-6-1), alimony is defined as “an allowance out of one party’s estate, made for the support of the other party when living separately.” In other words, alimony is support paid by one spouse to the other spouse, even though they are separated. Alimony can be either temporary or permanent, depending on the nature of the divorce.
The statute also makes clear that fault-based grounds for divorce can play a role in determining whether alimony is appropriate. Specifically, the law says that “a party shall not be entitled to alimony if it is established by a preponderance of the evidence that the separation between the parties was caused by that party’s adultery or desertion.” In other words, if one party commits adultery or abandons his/her family, then that spouse cannot obtain alimony. For all other cases, the statute emphasizes that alimony can be awarded—although it is not required—in “accordance with the needs of the party and the ability of the other party to pay.”
Does Alimony Work to Provide Sufficient Support?
Alimony is largely designed to provide support for one party in a divorce who, for example, may have earned substantially less income than the other spouse during the marriage or was a stay-at-home parent during the marriage. Since alimony can be temporary or permanent, it is designed to provide either temporary support for one of the parties to get back on her feet, or permanent support for one of the parties for the remainder of his/her lifetime.
Does Georgia law ensure that alimony works as it is supposed to, and that it goes to parties who need it? And is the amount awarded sufficient for the spouse who needs it? Under O.C.G.A. 19-6-5, the following are factors that the court can take into account when making such determinations:
- Standard of living established during the marriage;
- Duration of the marriage;
- Age and physical and emotional condition of both parties;
- Financial resources of each party;
- Time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable him to find appropriate employment (where applicable);
- Contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party;
- Condition of the parties, including the separate estate, earning capacity, and fixed liabilities of the parties; and
- Such other relevant factors as the court deems equitable and proper.
The court can rely on any of these factors listed, but at the same time is not required to take all into account or to weigh them equally. In addition, the court also can consider any factors that it deems relevant. Given that there is no specific formula and that each case is judged on its own set of facts, the methods for awarding alimony are designed to make alimony work—both for the party receiving the payments, as well as for the party making the payments.
Seek Advice from a Divorce Lawyer in Georgia
If you have questions about alimony, a Georgia divorce lawyer can help. Contact Mitchell & Crunk to speak with a dedicated advocate about your case.
Does Divorce Affect My Credit?
When we work with clients who are planning to file for divorce in Georgia, many are concerned about the different aspects of their finances which divorce can affect. In relation to these concerns, the common questions of debt and credit impact arise and whether or not divorce affects one’s creditworthiness. In some cases, divorce can affect your credit, but in other situations, your divorce will have absolutely no impact on your credit score or your financial history. No two divorces are exactly alike, and as such, without assessing your case, we cannot say for certain whether getting divorced is likely to affect your credit. Generally speaking, Georgia law requires the equitable division of marital property, but an equitable distribution of property does not necessarily mean that your spouse will not be able to damage your credit score.
We can provide you with some frequently asked questions about divorce and a person’s credit score that can help you to understand the kinds of situations in which divorce can affect a person’s credit. We have collated some information from Experian and NerdWallet that will clarify the relationship between divorce and a spouse’s financial record.
Do You Share Any Joint Accounts with Your Spouse?
In determining whether divorce can affect your credit, one of the first questions you want to consider is whether you currently share any joint accounts with your spouse. For example, do you share one or more credit card accounts? Do you have savings accounts or checking accounts in common? Do you have other forms of credit that include both your name and your spouse’s name? If so, if your spouse is responsible for making payments on one of those accounts and fails to do so, or if your spouse runs up new credit on a credit card account, your credit could suffer.
In short, any joint accounts should be closed if possible, and each spouse should open new accounts in his or her own name. For larger credit accounts or high credit card bills, it is important to continue making payments until the court can divide marital property (including debts) accordingly. Even then, if your spouse is responsible for a particular debt and your name is attached to it, failing to make payments can affect your financial standing.
Are You Having Difficulty Paying Your Bills Because of the Divorce?
Many people do not realize just how financially difficult divorce can be. Most married couples are accustomed to paying only one mortgage or rent payment, only paying bills for one household, and sharing other costs. When you get divorced, you end up having to pay for an entire household on your own with only your income.
If you are having difficulty paying your bills as a result of the financial strain of divorce, then your divorce could end up affecting your credit. For example, being a month late on your car payment can affect your credit, as can several months’ worth of late payments on your individual credit card account.
Learn More from a Georgia Divorce Attorney
Do Women Have to Pay Child Support?
In the past, there was little discussion about which parent would pay child support in the event of a divorce. The standard was that the mother would have custody of the children, while the father would pay child support.
While this was the case, times have certainly changed, and men today don’t always end up paying child support, especially if they have primary custody of the minor children and/or they were not the main breadwinners in the home. In some marriages, the woman works and brings home an income while men stay home with the children. Even in marriages where both parents work, sometimes the women are the ones making the majority of the household income. These types of situations beg the question: Do women have to pay child support?
While we don’t hear much about women having to pay child support, they are not exempt from doing so. If a woman is not a child’s primary custodial parent, she will be ordered to pay support to the father. It has become a trend in the past several years, with divorce lawyers seeing an increase in the number of mothers who are ordered to pay child support.
This may seem shocking to many people, considering that we are still seeing a pay gap between males and females. However, more and more women are achieving success in their careers and therefore out earning their husbands. Men nowadays are also spending more time with their children or even taking on the role of being the primary custodian of the minor children than in years past, and as a result, it is becoming more common than in the past to find women paying child support in higher numbers than they have in the past.
Also shocking is that non-custodial mothers are less likely to pay child support than non-custodial fathers. One-quarter of custodial mothers have not received child support payments from the father, while 32 percent of custodial fathers have not received payments from the mother, according to data provided by the U.S Census Bureau. Not only is nonpayment of child support common among both genders, non-payment tends to be more common among mothers mandated to pay it to their ex-spouses.
What Georgia Law Says
Under the Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.) §19-6-15, child support is awarded based on how much time each parent spends with the children, as well as each parent’s income. Child support is awarded to the custodial parent, which is defined as the parent who has the child more than 50 percent of the time. When both parents spend an equal amount of time with the child, the court will decide which parent can be considered the custodial parent for child support purposes.
The law does not specify that the father is the one to pay child support. If the father has custody of the child, he is entitled to receive child support from the child’s mother.
Contact a Georgia Family Law Attorney for Assistance Today
Child support is based on income and custody, not gender. Both women and men are eligible for child custody and child support. Custodial parents—whether they are fathers or mothers—are allowed under law to collect child support. If you have questions or concerns, the Georgia child support attorneys at Mitchell & Crunk can help. Make sure your rights are protected. Schedule a free consultation by contacting us today at (678) 701-6252">678-701-6252.
Do Fathers Always Pay Child Support?
Father’s today take on just as much of the parenting responsibility and at times earn just as much income as the Mother. Because this is the situation at times Fathers don’t always end up paying child support, especially if they have primary custody of the minor children and/or they were not the primary income earner in the family.
First off in Georgia, all child support is calculated using the Official State of Georgia Child Support Worksheet. This worksheet compiles income numbers and various known costs of the children involved and which parent pays those costs. The worksheet then calculates how much child support each parent is responsible for to care for the children. Most of the time the parent who has the children with them most of the time (primary custodian) receives child support and the parent who has less than 50% of the time with the children pays the child support amount. There are deviations that come into play for different reasons and is one of many reasons why having an experienced family law attorney helping you decipher and make the best decisions as it relates to child support is so important and vital even.
It seems long ago are the days past when women traditionally stayed home with young children and the Father was the sole income earner for a family. Even more so, it is common that those traditional roles are reversed and the Father has been staying at home with young children and the Mother has been the sole income earner for a family. So when divorce or a breakup happens with these circumstances the Father may earn nothing or earn much less than the Mother and will either not pay child support because the Father’s income is so low and based on the parenting plan the child support worksheet has the Father’s child support at $0. But the most common reason is because the Father was the stay at home parent and as such is the primary caregiver for the young children and should continue to do so even if the parents are splitting up. In this scenario it is possible that a judge would see this scenario as best for the children to stay with the Dad primarily and have parenting time with the Mother. Most likely in this scenario the Mother would then pay child support to the Father depending on income numbers and other factors put into the Official Georgia Child Support Worksheet as described earlier.
Mitchell & Crunk Attorneys at Law is a family law specialized law firm and handles child support issues throughout Northeast Georgia in Barrow County, Jackson County, Walton County, Gwinnett County, Hall County, Banks County, Madison County, Oconee County, Clarke County, Rockdale County, Newton County, Franklin County, Oglethorpe County, Greene County, and Morgan County. Including cities of Winder, Jefferson, Monroe, Lawrenceville, Athens, Gainesville, Madison, Greensboro, Lexington, Watkinsville, Danielsville, Carnesville, Conyers, Covington, and Homer in Georgia.