Divorce is never easy. In addition to the emotional impact involved, there are issues related to money, property, and children that must be resolved before the divorce can be finalized. In an uncontested divorce, the couple is in general agreement on getting the divorce and on the terms. In a contested divorce case, there are additional court proceedings and generally more complex negotiations involved.
The Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce
Since the issues are the same, you may ask what is the difference. The difference is the procedure. For example:
One spouse has the other party served a complaint for divorce by the County Sheriff. The parties will have to complete Discovery, which is the process by which the parties gain information about the other party through a voluminous exchange of documents. These documents can later be used as evidence at a trial. The parties may have to attend multiple hearings and mediation.
One spouse signs an Acknowledgment of Service thus avoiding the need to get the Sheriff’s Department involved. The parties either skip discovery or only exchange a few documents, since the terms are agreed upon and there is no need to for evidence since there will not be a trial. The parties usually only have to attend a brief Uncontested Hearing, at the most.
The 1st and best step you can take for yourself during the divorce process is finding a well-respected divorce attorney in Atlanta and asking the right questions.
Issues in Uncontested Divorce Cases
The issues in an Uncontested Divorce and a Contest Divorce are exactly the same. They are as follows:
Marital Property and Asset Division
All property earned or accumulated over the course of the marriage must be divided on an equitable basis.
If one of the spouses makes considerably less than the other or sacrificed his or her own career for the sake of the marriage, that spouse may be entitled to spousal support.
Child Custody and Child Support
If there are children, the parents will need to divide parenting responsibilities, as well as provide for the support of their children.
Do I have to go to Court?
To add to the complexity, cases vary by county and judge. For instance, an uncontested divorce in Atlanta may differ from one in Savannah. The location of the case dictates factors like whether or not you need to appear in Court, the length of time the case will take and ultimately, the outcome of the divorce itself. For example, most divorces involving children will require your presence in Court. If there are no children in the equation, you most likely will not need to appear, however, there is the possibility.
How long will my divorce take?
Typically, the first step in a divorce, filing the documents with your attorney, can take as little as a few days and as much as several months. Once those documents are filed with the Court, it is a minimum of 31 days up to 60 days until the judge signs the decree.
Regardless of best intentions, divorces are generally not easy. Complex Georgia law is not something one should tackle without professional, experienced legal guidance. Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor Family Law has over three decades of experience in this tedious process.
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Child Custody Arrangements in Uncontested Divorce
Simply agreeing to terms regarding child custody arrangements in an uncontested divorce is not enough. You will still need to outline how these arrangements will be handled so that they can be approved through the court. This generally involves creating a Georgia parenting plan. You should also include how issues will be resolved in the event of disputes or changes in plans.
What to Expect in a Georgia Uncontested Divorce Hearing
File Divorce Petition
Both contested and uncontested divorces in Georgia begin with a divorce petition filed in the superior court for the county in which you reside.
You will be required to fill out a financial declaration, detailing the assets and debts you accumulated over the course of your marriage.
If there are children involved, you will also be required to fill out a parenting plan, detailing how parental responsibilities will be divided.
At an uncontested divorce hearing, the judge will hear testimony and review the documents submitted. Provided you agree to the terms, the judge will issue a final order in the case.
From start to finish, this may be accomplished in as little as a few months, provided all the appropriate information and supporting documents are submitted.
Reach Out to Our Georgia Divorce Attorney
Whether you are facing a contested or uncontested case, you need an experienced Georgia divorce attorney on your side. Call or contact Stearns‑Montgomery & Proctor online today and request a consultation to see how we can help.