As opposed to an Uncontested Divorce, whereby both parties agree to all terms prior to submitting to a third party to decide (a trial court, an arbitrator, etc), a Contested Divorce is generally a more time intensive and intricate process as disputed matters cannot be addressed without a Court ruling. Matters such as property division, alimony, custody of children, and child support are typically what require a judge or jury to ultimately decide, assuming of course that all county and court prerequisites are met.
It’s important to understand that while the Georgia contested divorce process often requires much more long-term attention by way of pleadings, discovery, mediation, and potentially a trial; it is completely possible to settle during the process, or even come to a partial settlement agreement. After all, there may be a few items in the contested process that parties can agree upon, prior to presenting the case to a judge. If both sides can agree on certain terms of the divorce, the length of time to get a divorce and the expense of the divorce is considerably lessened. Counterbalance that with the possibility that strategically it may be best to submit all of the issues to the judge or jury for decision. Decisions like this should not be made without a thorough discussion with an attorney who has expertise in such matters. Further, without a settlement, a contested divorce in GA could demand the expertise of forensic accountants with regard to the financial matters or a guardian ad litem with regard to child custody evaluations, thus slowing the entire process.
In both unfortunate instances of either an uncontested or contested divorce in GA, the nuances of Georgia law, the complexities of county law, and uniqueness of each judge; it is highly recommended to hire an experienced attorney. Parties involved may overlook all of the nuances and requirements of state law and local rules. Not providing such documents in court-appointed fashion, with the requirements that your judge demands, may not result in a successful divorce. Examples of such requirements would be OGCA 19.6.15 “Child Support Guidelines”, OCGA 19.9.1 “Parenting Plan for Child Custody”, and following the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
With over 28 years and 10,000 cases of local Georgia divorce experience, Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor can help in guiding your path to a successful divorce. Please call us today at (678) 971-3413 or schedule a consultation.