Divorce is not an easy process and is emotionally and financially stressful for most spouses. Many couples think that divorce is as easy as declaring they no longer wish to be married, but the law requires couples to sort out a number of issues, from property division to parenting time to the payment of alimony. Significant legal consequences flow from the resolution of these issues, so couples should not be quick to form settlements simply to save time and money. Consulting with an experienced divorce attorney is essential to ensure a spouse’s rights and interests are fully considered and appropriately protected. Having a sense of what the divorce process entails not only gives spouses considering this step an opportunity to see what is coming, it also serves to highlight why legal representation and thoughtful consideration of what each decision means in the long-term is key to a fair outcome.
Grounds for Divorce
Unlike a number of States, Georgia still retains a significant number of fault-based grounds to sue for divorce, in addition to the no-fault option, that must be alleged in the initial divorce petition. Specifically, the law offers spouses 13 different bases for seeking divorce, including:
- The marriage is irretrievably broken (no-fault divorce), although the court cannot grant the petition until the other spouse has 30 days to respond;
- Intentional desertion for at least one year;
- A criminal conviction for an offense involving moral turpitude (violence, fraud, theft, etc.) where a spouse is incarcerated for two years or more;
- Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage;
- Impotence at the time of the marriage; and
- Cruel treatment, among others.
The procedural aspects of divorce are just as, if not more, important than the substantive law directing the outcome. Georgia requires at least one spouse live in the State for six months before a Georgia court has the authority to hear and decide the case. In addition, military personnel stationed in the state for a year can also sue in Georgia courts for a divorce. Either spouse can file, as long as one meets the residency requirement, and while filing first does not always matter, it can provide key advantages, such as controlling the court that hears the case and should be discussed with a divorce attorney before anything is submitted.
How Long Does a Divorce Case Take?
How long it takes to receive an official declaration of divorce depends on the circumstances of each case, but the timeline is largely controlled by how many issues there are to resolve and how contested these outstanding matters are by each spouse. Uncontested divorces, where the spouses agree on all major issues, simply need the judge to sign off on the settlement and dissolve the marriage. Theoretically, this could happen on the 31st day after the petition is filed, but it often takes couples longer to hammer out the details of each issue, as well as additional time for a judge to get to a particular case. Thus, it could take an additional month or two, or longer, before everything is finalized. Contested divorces are much more complicated, since issues are not settled, and can last years. Spouses in contested divorces can expect at least six months to one year before a final hearing is held.
Speak to a Columbus Divorce Attorney
Divorce requires couples to tackle a number of complex and sensitive issues that have long-term consequences. To ensure that your interests are fully protected, talk to the attorneys at Moffitt Law, LLC. They are well-versed in all aspects of divorce and can help you obtain a result that best for you and your family. Contact the Columbus office for a free consultation.