So You Are Thinking of Filing For Divorce In The State of Georgia…
Here Is What You Need to Know
What law governs your divorce? Like a lot of things in life, “it depends.”
Divorce laws vary in the 50 States and the District of Columbia.
If you and your spouse live in Georgia, your divorce will be governed primarily by Georgia law. However, if there is a retirement plan to be divided, there are also federal laws that apply to pension plans, namely ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.
If you are contemplating a divorce, it is important that you have a realistic understanding of your present finances, and what you will need to live on after a divorce.
How much do you presently spend a month? How much will you need after a divorce when you are living in a different home or apartment? Take photographs or copy financial documents. Download a history as far back as possible from your credit and/or debit cards for household expenses; find and make copies of anything having to do with your joint finances; fully document tax returns, mortgage documents, deeds, bankruptcy petitions; document, save, and back up any proof of misbehavior, such as infidelity, if that is the reason for your divorce. Keep all of this information in a safe place, not to mention securely backed up in cloud storage online, if possible.
If you are planning on filing for a divorce in the state of Georgia, either you or your spouse will need legal residency there, for at least the last six months. If neither of you meets these requirements, then you will have to wait until this threshold is reached by at least one party in the marriage. Additionally, Georgia also has a thirty-one day waiting period that will start once you have filed the divorce papers. Thirty-one days is the shortest amount of time that the divorce could take, but it will likely take longer. Of all the states, Georgia has one of the shortest waiting periods for divorce.
Georgia allows for a “no-fault” divorce. This essentially allows one spouse or another to claim that the marriage is irretrievably broken down with no hope of salvaging it. You can also engage in a divorce where a party is at fault, claiming infidelity, fraud or a plethora of other factors. Both options should be carefully considered before choosing one or the other.
Divorce can be a fairly speedy process if both spouses are able to negotiate all of its more difficult aspects. If you and your spouse are unable to agree on a specific aspect, then it will have to be settled through mediation or by the courts. Remember, the court’s ruling will depend heavily on what it perceives to be fair in regards to both parties, so don’t expect everything to go your way.
Divorce in Georgia is generally covered under family law. It will benefit you to locate a Georgia attorney who specializes in family law. Make some time to speak to a specialist before actually taking the step of filing for divorce. Often they will be able to show you problem areas of the law of which you might not be aware. They will also be able to help you write a complaint or petition that most effectively communicates your desires to the court.
A divorce petition should include the following: Your current work situation (i.e. Do both of you work? Just one? If so, who?); any arrangements you may have made for the children if you have any; the status of all shared assets and debts, such as your mortgage and credit cards; and an overall summary of why you are seeking a divorce.
If you are concerned about assets being sold without your knowledge, or your spouse disappearing with your children, you can ask the court for a temporary court order. Essentially, you and your spouse come to court, make your arguments, and the judge issues an order, one way or the other, that stands until the final settlement hearing or trial verdict. Keep in mind that you both have to abide by the order.
Divorce is a difficult time for everyone. Keep your cool and stand by your convictions. Divorce is a test of character, but if you stay on an even keel, you will survive it no matter how tough it is.
Going through a divorce will never be an easy task. It can be both emotionally and financially draining. However, if everything is handled correctly and you get all of the assistance you need, it can be for the best. If you would like to discuss your situation or are interested in exploring the financial impact of divorce, please contact me, Hamilton Bennett, of the Bennett Law Firm at 706-866-8021.