There are six main steps to take if you are pursuing a divorce in Georgia – file the petition, request a temporary order, serve the divorce papers, discuss a settlement, go to trial (if necessary), and issue the final order. Allow us to explain each step in-depth.
1. File the Petition
For a divorce to be recognized by the state, one spouse must file a legal petition to terminate the marriage. Along with your petition, you must prove that one spouse has met the state’s residency requirements – in Georgia, the residency requirement is six months. Only one spouse must have lived in Georgia for six months before filing for divorce. You can request a divorce in Georgia even if your spouse lives in a different state.
2. Request a Temporary Order
An uncontested divorce can take as little as 31 days, while a contested divorce could take many months. The court understands that some people cannot wait months on legalities and need court rulings to be implemented sooner rather than later. You can request a temporary order that issues instructions, such as:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Property restraints
- Restraining order
- Status quo order
3. Serve the Divorce Papers
Once you’ve filed the petition, your spouse must be handed the divorce papers. They cannot simply be left in his mailbox or left on his front porch. You, personally, do not have to hand your spouse the divorce papers; many people ask a policeman to do this task. Once the papers have been handed to your spouse, you need to file a proof of service with the court. The spouse who received the divorce papers must “answer” the petition within 30 days or else the judge will issue a default judgement.
4. Discuss a Settlement
Before trial, the two parties will meet with their lawyers to discuss certain issues like child custody, child support, and property division. Agreeing on these matters during settlement instead of going to trial can save an extensive amount of time and money. Furthermore, settlement hearings put more control into the parties’ hands. If you go to trial, the final details concerning important issues is up to the judge’s discretion.
5. Go to Trial
If an agreement cannot be made, the parties will proceed to trial. During trial, the judge will review the facts of your case, ask questions, hear both sides, and determine the details of the divorce. Trial costs substantially more than a settlement hearing, so it’s important to try to work with your spouse during settlement to save money and time.
6. Issue the Final Order
Once all the details have been decided, the judge will issue and sign the final divorce decree. Once this decree has been made, you are officially divorced. Moving forward, both parties must legally abide by all rules in the divorce agreement; if not, legal ramifications may occur.