What is a no-fault divorce?
What is an uncontested divorce?
How much does it cost to get divorced?
Do you offer flat fee divorces?
How long does it take to get a divorce?
Will I have to go to court?
What do I do about custody, visitation, and property while the divorce is proceeding?
How will our property be divided?
Who will have to pay off our debts?
How is alimony determined?
How is child support determined?
Do I need a divorce lawyer?
What are the different grounds for divorce?
Georgia, like most states, has no fault divorce. In past years a married person had to claim bad acts (fault grounds) such as infidelity, abuse, cruel treatment to get a divorce. That is no longer necessary. If you file for divorce saying that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court must grant it. Some states call this “irreconcilable differences”.
Uncontested means that the parties to the divorce have worked out all the issues (such as property division, custody and support) and there is nothing for the judge to decide between them. The parties prepare and file a settlement agreement (sometimes called a separation agreement) and the judge simply attaches that agreement to the final order granting judgment and decree of divorce. No “legal separation” is needed.
Jeff Bezos’s divorce reportedly cost him $37 billion dollars. Fortunately not many divorces involve such astronomical sums. Although some costs, such as court filing fees, are knowable, the costs of divorce are directly related to the actions of the parties and the size and complexity of the marital estate. Parties with few assets that can work together and submit a settlement agreement can obtain a divorce for less than $1,500. However, if parties have sizable assets, complicated arrangements, and disputes over custody or property, the costs will escalate quickly.
Some attorneys offer a single price for a divorce, but beware. Such divorces always require the party to give considerable authority to their attorney, and a fixed fee means that the attorney can only afford to spend a limited amount of time on the case and may cut corners on important issues. Often there are hidden fees in such an arrangement. A candid discussion about goals and costs with your attorney is the best way to limit the costs of your divorce.
Parties that are able to agree with each other and motivated to move on can be divorced in as little as sixty days. Parties that dispute issues of property, custody, or support will take longer. Including time to reach agreement, a typical mid-level divorce with children can take anywhere from six months to a year, and sometimes even longer. Heavily contested cases that have to go to trial can take a year or more, particularly for judges with heavy caseloads.
If the parties are able to file a comprehensive settlement agreement, most modern judges will permit a divorce to be taken “on the papers” without physical appearance by the parties. Hearings on disputed issues, and requests for actions from the court (motions) will have to be heard by the judge and require an appearance. If you are in Fulton County, GA, you may have to attend one or more status conferences.
If the parties cannot reach agreement, the judge will establish terms for temporary custody, parenting time, and support at a “temporary hearing” called for the purpose. The judge has discretion to grant one party or the other temporary attorney fees.
Hopefully, you have reached agreement with your spouse about a division of property. If you can’t reach agreement, then you’ll two more chances. All judges require that you try to mediate dispute issues before they will consider them. If you fail to reach agreement at mediation, then there will be a hearing and the judge will decide how to divide property.
Like assets, all debts of the marriage will have to be equitably divided between the parties. Debts incurred prior to the marriage generally remain with the person that incurred them. Debts incurred after the date of the wedding are considered “marital” and subject to equitable division. Equitable division does not mean “half”. It means whatever the judge feels is fair under the circumstances.
Alimony is based on a number of factors, but there is no set formula in Georgia. Some factors include each parties’ earning ability, the financial assets each party has available, the reasons for the divorce, and the parties’ standard of living during the marriage. There are other factors as well. An experienced attorney can help you understand what a judge is likely to do in a given set of circumstances.
Georgia child support is based on table that are calculated each your and published by the Georgia Child Support Commission. Basically both parents’ monthly income are added, and the child support amount from the table is divided between them according to their ratio of income. However, there are important adjustments that can be made based on the circumstances and the needs of the children, and you should discuss potential deviations with your attorney to see if they apply.
A good divorce lawyer can help you understand the process and move through it with a minimum of cost, hassle and conflict. Having a divorce lawyer is very helpful if there are children, significant assets, closely-held businesses and other complications. A divorce lawyer can also help with troublesome conduct by your spouse.
In addition to “irretrievably broken” (no fault), Georgia law recognizes “fault” grounds such as marrying within close family, mental incapacity or incurable mental illness, being impotent or pregnant by another at the time of marriage, force, fraud, adultery, desertion, imprisonment for certain crimes for more than two years, habitual intoxication, drug addiction, and cruel treatment.
The answers above are for general knowledge only and cannot be relied upon as specific legal advice. To understand your own situation, you must talk to an experienced attorney who can give you informed advice.