Divorce is the legal dissolution of a married couple and is normally obtained through a court trial or a composed settlement between the divorcing spouses. During the divorce process it is important to resolve issues such as division of property and obligations, spousal support / alimony and/or child support. In addition, the custody of any children’s parties and the details of visitation.
The Divorce Process Typically Follows the Following Steps:
The First Step is the Divorce Petition
The divorce usually begins with the filing of a complaint or request for separation in the superior court. The complaint should list what you need out of the separation regarding division of property and any debts, spousal or child support, and any expenses incurred during the divorce such as attorney or court fess, if they are applicable. After petition for divorce is served on your spouse, they hold the right to either accept or deny what is listed in the petition. In the state of Georgia, in the event that you are presented with a dissention for separation, you must document your response inside thirty (30) days from being served.
The Second Step is the Issuing of any Temporary Orders
Divorce requires some serious energy and there are things that need to be carried out quickly. During this step, either member of the divorce (the husband or wife) can ask for a temporary hearing to deal with things like the payment of mortgages, rent, utilities, etc. – or commonly child support, alimony and the custody of any children involved.
The Third Step is Disclosure
Typically, disclosure is the point at which the divorce parties offer information that is appropriate to the case. The typical approach is by utilizing a Notice to Produce certain files or a formal deposition, which involves making inquiries to the other party in the divorce or different witnesses specifically, under oath, with a court reporter recording the answers given to be used at a trial, if necessary. The drafting and filing a Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit (DRFA) is also a necessary and important part of the disclosure requirements.
The Fourth Step is Reaching an Agreement
It is sometimes more beneficial to settle a case without going to trial, in light of the fact that the divorcing spouses typically have more control over the end result. Along these lines, most judges call for an attempt to be made to resolve the issue before taking the case to court trial. This is most commonly done by the court issuing an order that the parties attend mediation by a certain deadline. However, there are three ways common ways in Georgia divorce and family law cases the parties can use to help reach an agreement.
- Negotiation: The divorcing spouses sit and work out a plan that is beneficial to the both of them.
- Arbitration: The divorcing spouses submit their issues to an authority who acts as a judge and whose choice is legitimately tying.
- Mediation: Mediation is the court’s most commonly used method for encouraging parties to a divorce or family law case to settle. The divorcing spouses meet with a mediator who attempts to help them reach an arrangement. Since the mediator cannot give legal counsel, it is recommended that each of the spouses have legal representation.
The Fifth Alternative Step is Going to Trial
If the divorcing party members cannot reach an agreement, then the judge will hear the case. It is important to note that the judge won’t get to hear all the information you want to give him/her. You have a restricted time to present your case and your lawyer is going to want to concentrate on the facts to win your case. It is recommended that you try to resolve the case before it goes to court because in court you may not get the conclusion you want.
Separations: In the state of Georgia, instead of a petition legal separation, there is a separation maintenance action.
Separate Maintenance as Opposed to Divorce
There are some reasons why spouses may choose to file for separate maintenance instead of a divorce. Some spouses are blatantly against getting a divorce, sometimes due to religious or even moral reasons. Some people want to keep the marriage in tact so that they may continue to receive certain benefits, such as social security benefits or health insurance. Also, some people file for Separate Maintenance if they do not yet meet the residency requirements for a divorce in Georgia. Also, the parties may choose separation if they both agree that reconciliation is a possibility. However, it is important to note that a person that is served with a separate maintenance case and in return always ask for a divorce. Also, separate maintenance actions must be personally served – and cannot be served by publication.
In the state of Georgia, you are considered to be separated if you are no longer engaging in sexual relations with the other spouse and you are in an actual state of separation. However, this is not the same as an order for Separate Maintenance, which commonly bestows support of some type (alimony and/or child support) and the division of property and debts.
Separate Maintenance Similarities with Divorce
According to the divorce law in Georgia, the steps for getting a separate maintenance are like the steps for getting a divorce, except that a legal divorce is not actually issued, so any of the concerns that have to be settled in a divorce must also be settled in a separate maintenance. Such issues include division of property, spousal or child support, and custody of any children and any visitation rights.
Separate Maintenance Differences from a Divorce
One of the stand out distinctions between a divorce and separate maintenance is that the spouses do not have to live in the state of Georgia for any set amount of time before they can petition for a separate maintenance. Divorce petitions in the state of Georgia can’t be filed until the spouses have lived in Georgia for a minimum of six (6) months. Sometimes, if a married couple has lived in Georgia for a small amount of time but want to get divorced file for a separate maintenance, than after the residency requirement has been met, will file for a divorce.
Annulments in Georgia
Like a divorce or a separation, an annulment is a court order that sets aside a marriage. However, an annulment treats a marriage like it never occurred. For some married couples, a divorce would be an embarrassing experience to go through but they don’t want to continue to be married, so they choose to have their marriage annulled. For some married couples, an annulment is the best choice so that one or both individuals may remarry inside their congregation and have the second union accepted by the congregation. There are two types of annulments that are granted, one that is given by the state government after a court progressing and the other is a religious dissolution that is typically allowed by a congregation. If there are children involved or one of the spouses is pregnant, the state of Georgia will not grant an annulment and the married couple will have to go through the divorce procedure.
Grounds for an Annulment in the State of Georgia:
- At least one member of the wedding party is still legally married to another living person.
- At least one member of the wedding party agreed to the marriage only because of coercion or fraud exerted by another person.
- At least one member of the wedding party was not at full mental capacity at the time that the marriage took place.
- At least one member of the wedding party was underage at the time of the marriage and consent by a parent or guardian was not given.
- The members of wedding party are too closely related either by blood or other means.
While the list above is only a very brief summary of the grounds for an annulment in Georgia, it should convey to most people that a divorce is usually easier to ask for and obtain.
If you are facing a divorce, separate maintenance action or annulment in Sandy Springs Georgia or the surrounding area, call us at 770-609-1247 to discuss your case with an attorney.