Georgia Divorce Law
Our family law attorneys and divorce lawyers recognize the stress divorce can cause, and we are skillfully trained to guide you through the complex divorce process. Our expertise includes marital property division; assessing whether spousal support or alimony will be awarded; and establishing child custody, visitation, and child support.
Our Metro Atlanta divorce attorneys also specialize in collaborative divorce. A collaborative divorce can be an excellent option for some families. With collaborative divorce, the process remains positive, respectful, and interest-based while still allowing clients their legal assets. Collaborative divorce can be a wonderful alternative to traditional divorce, particularly for families with children.
We also specialize in law services and advice for the following types of divorce cases:
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Is Divorce Right for Me?
In many cases, a family counselor can better prepare you to answer the question of whether divorce is right for you. However, being prepared is essential in deciding to proceed with a divorce.
If you are considering a divorce, here are a few important facts that you may not know.
- You don't need to be physically separated with your spouse prior to filing for a divorce.
- You may avoid court and litigation with collaborative divorce or mediation options. In fact, we encourage Alternative Dispute Resolution—a more amicable approach to resolving conflict.
- Assets obtained before your marriage may be treated differently than those acquired during your marriage.
- Income is not the only factor that affects alimony, child support, and spousal support in a divorce.
In addition, the following items should be properly addressed before proceeding:
- You have been well informed of your legal rights
- You have a good overall view of your financial position
- Your emotional and psychological needs have been addressed
- If children are involved that their future needs have been carefully considered and addressed
Many people have questions about divorce and how to proceed with a divorce in Georgia through the legal system. For more information, please visit our Divorce Questions pages to learn more about the grounds for divorce, affairs, property equity, how to file, and the cost of divorce.
Our attorneys also often give seminars at our Alpharetta office such as "Intro to Georgia Divorce: What to Expect" and other topics that help provide people with information about all aspects of the divorce process from understanding your options to dealing with the stress and emotion.
More About Our Georgia Divorce Service
During the divorce process, our family law attorneys will address a number of financial issues including:
- Property division and distribution
- Equitable division of marital assets and debts after divorce
- Division of business assets and current assessment of value
- Division of retirement accounts, 401K plans, pensions, stocks, bonds, and personal property
We can also help transfer interest in retirement plans (qualified domestic relations orders, or QDRO) or provide child support payments through income deduction orders (IDO).
If needed, we will also handle divorce-related issues such as:
- Alimony, alimony appeals, and modification
- Spousal support and spousal maintenance
- Child custody and visitation
- Temporary custody, legal custody, physical custody, interstate jurisdiction, and out-of-state orders under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
- Child support, child support orders, child support enforcement, child support contempt, and post-judgment modification
- Enforcement and contempt actions
Is Georgia a “No Fault” Divorce State?
“Is Georgia a 'No Fault' Divorce State?” When we meet with new and potential clients, this is often one of the first questions they ask. They are concerned that their divorce will be a lengthy and contentious process, and want to know whether they will need to either point a finger at the spouse or get their spouse’s agreement to initiate the divorce process.
Fortunately, the answer to this question is yes. Georgia is a no-fault divorce state, and you do not need to assert or prove any particular grounds for divorce. You also do not need your spouse to consent to the process. If you believe that your marriage is “irretrievably broken,” in Georgia, this is enough to file for divorce.
Georgia Recognizes No-Fault and Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce
Georgia’s no-fault divorce law states:
“The following ground shall be sufficient to authorize the granting of a total divorce: …The marriage is irretrievably broken. Under no circumstances shall the court grant a divorce on this ground until not less than 30 days from the date of service on the respondent.”
Georgia recognizes both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. While filing for divorce based on “marital fault” is an option, in the vast majority of cases, even spouses who may have fault-based grounds will be better off filing for a no-fault divorce at least at first.
The fault-based grounds for divorce in Georgia include, but are not limited to:
- Mental incapacity of the time of marriage;
- Force, duress or fraud in obtaining the marriage;
- Adultery by either spouse;
- Willful desertion by either spouse for a year or longer;
- Habitual intoxication or drug addiction; and,
- Cruel treatment, including willful infliction of physical or mental harm.
(You can review GA Code Section 19-5-3 for a complete list of the fault-based grounds for divorce.)
The benefits of filing for a fault-based divorce are limited and often outweighed by the costs involved, and where fault can become relevant (such as in the equitable distribution of marital property), the issue can also be raised in a no-fault divorce. Furthermore, parties in a divorce action have an opportunity to amend their pleadings to add “fault” if the need arises. Therefore, you can file a divorce action under “irretrievably broken”, and if necessary, add additional grounds for divorce, such as “adultery”, at the appropriate time.
Protecting Your Rights in a No-Fault Divorce
Whether you file for a no-fault or fault-based divorce, you still have the same opportunity to assert your rights with regard to property division, financial support and child custody. Now a distinction needs to be made between a “No Fault” and an “Uncontested” divorce. “No Fault” allows one side to not be required to prove bad conduct on the part of their spouse in order to obtain a divorce. While “Uncontested” refers to the parties that have agreed to the terms under which they will dissolve their marriage, to include assets, debts and child custody.
Now Georgia’s “No Fault” policy applies statewide, therefore a party seeking a divorce needs not prove fault whether they are in Cobb County or Lumpkin County. However, should the action not be an “Uncontested” divorce (the parties have yet to agree on all the terms of the divorce and require the Court’s assistance in defining the terms of the divorce) then local rules and local procedures will have an effect on your case. Such local rules can include Mandatory Discovery, when a Temporary Hearing can be obtained, and when Mediation must be scheduled.
Additionally, “No Fault” divorces shall have to abide by the requirements set by the assigned Judge in order to obtain a Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce. For example, as of March, 2017, certain judges in Cobb County Superior Court, Georgia will typically allow you to obtain a divorce via Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, such as Judge A. Gregory Poole, while others like Judge C. LaTain Kell require the parties to appear at an Uncontested Hearing. Likewise, some Judges will typically waive the requirement for the parties to attempt mediation before scheduling a Final Hearing, such as Judge Robert Flournoy and Judge Reuben Green in Cobb County Superior Court, while others like Judge Mary Staley and Judge Robert Leonard do require that parties mediate. It is best to speak with an experienced attorney at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor as the Judge’s preferences change with time and experience.
Before you make any decisions about your divorce or try to initiate the process on your own, it is in your best interest to discuss your options with an experienced attorney.
Speak with one of our Divorce Lawyers
Our divorce attorneys are available from 8:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with evening appointments available by request. Our family law firm accepts all major credit cards. Contact us or call (678) 971-3413. With offices in Alpharetta, Buckhead, Dunwoody, Johns Creek, and Marietta, our divorce attorneys advocate for families throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area.