There are a number of divorce options in Georgia, depending on your ability or desire to collaborate with your spouse during the divorce settlements. In this blog, we cover the different types of divorce options in Georgia and why you might elect one or the other in your case.
The Different Types of Divorce
There are many grounds for divorce in Georgia, the most common of which is irreconcilable differences, which establishes that no one is at fault for the marriage's failure. Other grounds could be cruelty or adultery. Note that at least one party must have been a Georgia resident for at least 6 months prior to filing for any divorce.
Fault and No-Fault Divorce
“Fault” as grounds for a divorce usually boil down to mental illness, abuse, or imprisonment, among other actively threatening behavior. Most divorces that take place in Georgia, though, are “no-fault,” which means that both partners have decided to legally split without an underlying cause. Georgia’s state divorce laws are based on the “no-fault” divorce policy.
Many couples favor a no-fault divorce because, while a fault-based divorce contains legal justification for the separation, the divorce process is a lot faster if the divorcing spouse files for a no-fault divorce. In a no-fault divorce, the divorcing spouse only needs to show the court that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” in the marriage, such as an unresolvable incompatibility between the spouses. A fault-based divorce, on the other hand, requires the divorcing spouse to prove the facts that justify the divorce.
The fastest and easiest way to divorce is through an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is when you and your spouse agree on how everything should be divided, including:
- bank accounts,
- real estate,
- retirement accounts,
- child support,
- child custody, and
- alimony issues.
If you and your spouse agree about everything before you file the divorce and have signed a Divorce Agreement, then a Georgia divorce can take as few as 31 days from the date of filing. In the case that you and your spouse agree on most things but still have a few areas of indecision, you may need a mediator to settle the final negotiations.
A contested divorce is when you and your spouse cannot agree on one or more of the issues in your divorce, such as alimony, child custody, and child support, which are often difficult to agree on, especially during a deteriorating relationship. Dividing important assets, such as retirement accounts, bank accounts, and debts can also be tricky, so in these cases attorneys, mediators, or a judge often settle the contested issues for you. Compared to uncontested, contested divorces take more time and cost more to resolve, especially when they involve valuable assets or child custody.
A collaborative divorce is an option where both spouses agree not to go to court. Third party financial professionals disclose both of your assets and debts as accurately and fairly as possible, and therapists and custody experts will help resolve any contested custody issues and help spouses develop a parenting plan that’s in the best interests of their children. Note that these third parties are different from arbitrators and mediators, which we will discuss later.
A collaborative divorce normally involves a lengthier process involving disclosures and meetings, and it results in a signed final agreement that is submitted to the court and processed as a normal divorce.
While a collaborative divorce may take more time and cooperation, it is a good alternative for spouses who want to avoid trial. With a collaborative divorce, a couple doesn’t have to bring the court into the picture, as they are willing to solve their differences and settle on agreements about their separation without needing to go through a judge. It is usually done one-on-one with both spouses’ lawyers present, but if no conclusion can be resolved, they will need to pursue another type of divorce.
When one spouse petitions for a divorce alone, they will serve the divorce paperwork to the other, who is obliged to answer. If the other spouse is unwilling to file an answer in the given time, the divorce will still go to court where a judge will end the divorce by default, even without the other spouse’s consent.
Arbitration is a divorce option in Georgia where spouses to enter into an Arbitration Agreement, in which they allow an arbitrator to make the final decisions about how to fairly divide their assets and resolve any child custody and support issues. Arbitration occurs without having a judge decide the issues, though an arbitrator acts like a judge in that the arbitrator settles the final negotiations.
An advantage to pursuing arbitration is that spouses get to keep their documents, testimony, etc. private, which is important in a high-asset situation. Arbitrators are also usually available faster than a judge might be, and the rules of evidence and procedure can be relaxed in an arbitration rather than more formal as in a trial.
Mediation is a method similar to arbitration in that it involves a third party mediator who listens to both sides and helps them to stay out of court. The difference is that a mediator does not make any final decisions about the divorce. Instead, they will draft a plan delivered to a judge who will then use the mediated agreement to determine the divorce settlements.
Contact Daniels & Taylor, P.C. for Legal Support
If you are seeking a divorce in Georgia, you have a few different options for proceeding. It is advisable to enlist the support of an experienced attorney to efficiently navigate the divorce process, whether you pursue a collaborative divorce or mediation. Contact our legal team at Daniels & Taylor, P.C. for reliable legal guidance in your situation today.
Contact our firm at Daniels & Taylor, P.C. to schedule your consultation today.