Divorce proceedings in Georgia can be unpleasant, so it makes sense that someone going through a divorce would want their case wrapped up quickly. Because each case is unique, each case’s timeline is different. An experienced Georgia divorce lawyer can help answer any questions, because knowing what a typical divorce looks like can help you better plan for your future.
What is the Timeline of a Georgia Divorce?
If everyone is in agreement over every aspect of the divorce, property division, and child custody, a divorce in Georgia can conclude in just over in 31 days. In rare cases, that may happen. However, a typical uncontested divorce usually ends within about six months. On the other hand, a contested divorce, in which both parties don’t agree on the terms of the divorce, can take as little as six months or can last for more than a year.
1. Filing Papers in Court
Once you’re prepared to pursue your divorce, you’ll need to file divorce papers with the court. Georgia is a no-fault state, so you can simply state the reason you’re divorcing is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. You also have the option to list a reason or grounds for divorce.
Processing Standing Orders
Once the divorce complaint is filed, the court will issue standing orders, which will dictate how the spouses will conduct themselves as their case begins, including maintaining property or prohibiting any threatening or harassing behavior by either spouse.
Each spouse may also need to complete a domestic intake sheet to provide information to the court.
2. Responding to the Divorce Complaint
Once one spouse files the divorce papers with the court, the papers are served to their soon-to-be-ex partner. The partner will have 30 days to respond to the complaint. In an uncontested divorce, a spouse merely agrees the marriage is irretrievably broken, then signs and returns the form. However, if the spouse disagrees about the grounds for their divorce listed, he or she can argue against any reasons given.
3. The Discovery Phase
Both spouses will have to report their essential information to the court and the other spouse, including information like income, property inventory, assets, accounts, living expenses, or other critical information. This will help set the stage for later divisions of property and assets to ensure fairness for the spouses as the proceedings continue.
4. Temporary Orders
Life goes on around couples going through a divorce. To maintain peace during the proceedings, either spouse can request interim orders to establish rules or schedules for custody, child support, or visitation. These orders can have long-lasting effects.
5. Pretrial Negotiations
Although it may be necessary to take the divorce to trial to finalize it, couples are encouraged to work together to avoid going to court if possible. Before a trial, couples can work to create agreements on custody, property division, spousal support, visitation, and more. Mediation is required in Georgia before taking a divorce case to trial.
6. Setting Custody Guidelines
Divorcing couples with children will have to consider where the children will live and how they’ll be supported. Establishing a co-parenting plan can take time, especially if one parent believes they’re entitled to more time with the children than the other parent. Although a custody debate can be contentious, it’s critical to set guidelines that are equitable and in the best interest of the child.
7. Late Case Evaluations
Once divorce proceedings have lasted at least 120 days, the court can hold a conference with a neutral party to determine if the couple is nearing a settlement or if a trial is necessary to finalize the divorce.
8. Divorce Trial
If the couple cannot reach an agreement on their own (with the assistance of their lawyers and mediator), then they will have to go to trial to finalize their divorce. This trial will proceed similar to a criminal trial: both sides will present their arguments and evidence to a judge. Then there will be a decision made as to how any property is divided, who will take custody of the children, what kind of support is owed, and more.
9. Proceedings After the Divorce
There could be a need to go to court even after the divorce is finalized to enforce the decisions established. One spouse may not be following the co-parenting plan, or one could be ignoring the support orders. This could add more time in court to the divorce proceedings.
What Can Delay Divorce Proceedings?
Divorces can be heated, with one spouse working to sabotage proceedings to try to punish the other spouse or acting out because they feel they’re being treated unfairly.
One spouse could attempt to conceal relevant information during discovery, necessitating the other to hire investigators to confirm suspicions about hidden information.
The court’s schedule can also cause delays due to case volume. Spouses can dispute agreements before the trial, which could also hinder proceedings.
How Can I Ensure My Divorce Goes As Smoothly As Possible?
If you’re planning on getting a divorce, there are steps you can take to expedite the process. Keeping relevant documents handy, cooperating with information requests, and working with your spouse towards parenting plans are all ways to help keep the ball rolling.
However, one of the best ways to keep time in court to a minimum during a divorce is to hire a family law attorney. An experienced family lawyer in Marietta will know how Georgia’s laws function, which stalling tactics your ex could be attempting to pull, and how to file paperwork properly during the divorce. If you’re thinking a divorce is your best solution, researching family law attorneys to help you could jumpstart your proceedings.
Call the Gentry Law Firm To Help Keep Your Divorce on Track
If you’ve decided to seek a divorce, your best option to keep the hassle to a minimum is to call Gentry Law today. Our attorneys are experienced and understand how stressful divorces can be. They can help you investigate your spouse if needed, and they’re ready to argue on your behalf in court.