Divorce is a tumultuous topic. For some people, it means the end of a profound relationship. For others, it might mean the freedom to move forward with their lives.
In Georgia, some divorces end because of one of the 13 “grounds” or reasons for divorce. Say one spouse was cheating on the other, or a spouse was forced into the marriage. In these circumstances, separation makes sense.
However, Georgia law says a spouse can file for divorce if they feel their marriage is “irretrievably broken.” The question is: are those divorces different, and how?
What is No-Fault Divorce?
When a married person files for divorce using one of the 13 grounds for divorce, they’re seeking an “at-fault divorce.” When they submit their divorce complaint to the court, they’re asserting that their spouse has wronged them, and the marriage should be ended.
However, Georgia law allows for “no-fault” divorces. If a spouse feels the marriage is beyond repair, they can ask the court for a total divorce. Each method has their own benefits and drawbacks to consider when you seek a divorce.
Advantages of a No-Fault Divorce
Although the end results are generally the same, no-fault divorces proceed differently than at-fault divorces. Some of these differences amount to benefits to you, some of which include:
Expedited Divorce Proceedings
Court cases take time. There are many steps baked into the process to ensure fairness for all parties involved, and it can be difficult to get time in a courtroom. But compared to at-fault divorces, no-fault divorces keep this process short. On average, no-fault divorces take 45 to 60 days. An at-fault divorce can take six months to two years.
After a complaint is filed for a no-fault divorce, your spouse will have 30 days to respond with their answer. There will be time to hammer out decisions regarding child support, visitation, spousal support, or property division, but it isn’t expected to take as much time as divorce proceedings where you must prove your spouse met a ground for divorce.
Limited Testimony Means Limited Fallout
When an at-fault divorce goes to court, it is a court matter where attorneys and parties must testify and provide evidence. This evidence is meant to support why the divorce should happen, or why the post-divorce matters should be changed to favor one spouse or the other. These proceedings can become inflammatory, leaving hard feelings in the wake of the court’s decision.
In a no-fault divorce, there isn’t a listed legal reason for divorce, so both sides can agree that an irreparable marriage doesn’t require any embellishments or aired laundry. A no-fault divorce can stay a private affair.
No-Fault Divorces Can Cost Less Money
Court cases are expensive, especially when a family’s future is involved. You want to make sure everything is accounted for, everyone gets an equitable outcome, and you aren’t going to leave any questions unanswered.
In a no-fault divorce, all parties should be on the same page, understanding that there aren’t grounds that need proving, or that the attorneys’ time won’t be spent preparing extensive arguments.
When you know the marriage is going to end, you can determine how much time you’ll need to retain an attorney, so you can keep your costs down. That doesn’t mean the divorce process will be cheap, but with surprises kept to a minimum, your expenses and lawyer fees should be limited.
What Kind Of Drawbacks Are Involved in No-Fault Divorces?
No-fault divorces might sound like the path of least resistance, but you could still experience some challenges you wouldn’t necessarily face in an at-fault divorce.
More Equitable Outcomes in Post-Divorce Decisions
When you file a no-fault divorce, you’re not listing any reason that a marriage should end beyond that it can’t be fixed. So if your spouse secretly had a child with another person, but you sought a no-fault divorce, that information wouldn’t impact things like child support for your actual children, or property division.
In an at-fault divorce, you’d be preparing testimony and evidence to prove why the divorce should end. That information may not surface in a no-fault case.
No-Fault Divorces Make Marriage Seem Flimsy
No-fault divorces can be accomplished relatively easily, compared to the hassle and time in court involved with an at-fault divorce. For that reason, some people question whether no-fault divorces are morally secure. A spouse seeking a no-fault divorce could be seen as taking the easy way out instead of working to repair the marriage.
Because no-fault divorces are relatively more available as an option, some fear they could lead to more “broken” families. However, the decision ultimately is up to you.
How a Georgia Lawyer Can Help You
Whether you decide to file a no-fault or at-fault divorce, you’d be wise to employ an attorney to guide you through the process. An experienced lawyer can use their Georgia law knowledge and experience to help you navigate your divorce, gather evidence if needed, and prepare your case for the court to reach the best possible outcome.
Call Gentry Law for Assistance
The team at Gentry Law Firm is prepared to hear your case and work with you to find a solution. With more than 35 years of practicing law in Georgia, we’re ready to help you find the best result in your divorce case, whether that’s more visitation for you or securing a lower child support payment. Our compassion and dedication can set you up for success.
Call us (770) 425-5573 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation.