If you and your spouse both agree it’s time to move on from your marriage, you may think you’re ready to file for an uncontested divorce.
But in Georgia, an uncontested divorce requires more than both people agreeing they want to end the marriage.
Read on to learn what an uncontested divorce is and how to file for one in Georgia.
What is an uncontested divorce in Georgia?
In Georgia, an uncontested divorce is one where the divorcing spouses have reached a full settlement agreement before they file with the Superior Court. That’s the technical definition, and it requires agreement on every issue.
But don’t despair if you and your spouse haven’t been able to come to a full agreement on your own. You could still have the benefits of an uncontested divorce.
You don’t have to file for divorce before you hire an attorney or work with a mediator. In fact, contacting a divorce lawyer before you file is a good way to understand your options before you take any actions.
There are Georgia divorce lawyers that specialize in uncontested divorces. That means they focus on helping clients negotiate a settlement agreement before involving the court.
How do you file for an uncontested divorce in Georgia?
Once you and your spouse have a signed settlement agreement, you can file for an uncontested divorce.
To file for an uncontested divorce in Georgia, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months. You can file the Complaint for Divorce with the Superior Court in the county where you and/or your spouse live.
When you file for an uncontested divorce, you’re telling the court that you and your spouse have come to all the necessary agreements. You’re asking them to issue a final divorce decree based on the information you provide. So the paperwork you file is extensive.
You’ll file the Complaint for Divorce, which includes information about:
- Where you and your spouse live
- How long you have been married and separated
- How you want to divide marital property and debts
- Whether you’re requesting alimony
- What grounds of divorce you’re alleging
- What you want from the court
You will fill out one form if you have minor children and another if you don’t. The form for couples with minor children asks questions about child custody, visitation, support, medical expenses, and health insurance.
The exact forms required will depend on the county in which you file. You’ll likely need to file the following:
- A document certifying that all the information you provide is truthful
- A document informing your spouse of the divorce action
- A document providing a detailed accounting of your marital assets and expenses
- If you have children, forms that calculate the amount of child support required
- A document acknowledging service by your spouse
- A signed parenting plan agreement
- A signed settlement agreement
- A signed document consenting to the court granting the divorce as soon as possible after 31 days of service
- General administrative forms
If you have minor children, you may also be required to attend a parenting seminar.
Your attorney will receive notice when your hearing is scheduled. The hearing in an uncontested divorce case is short and straightforward since the judge’s order is based on the paperwork you’ve submitted. In fact, an attorney can often get the hearing waived and your divorce finalized without you having to go to court.
You’ll need a few pieces of additional administrative paperwork to finalize your case. Your attorney will create these documents for you.
Do you need an attorney for an uncontested divorce in Georgia?
Georgia law does not require that you be represented by an attorney in your divorce.
However, even an uncontested divorce has its complications. You have to fill out dozens of detailed forms and decide on issues that are critical to the rest of your life. Plus, the forms courts provide and the ones you might find online are one-size-fits-all. There’s a good chance they don’t match your specific situation, and you might not realize it.
For instance, divorce attorneys have lots of experience with custody and visitation agreements. They’ve seen the places where agreements break down over time or where there are compliance issues down the road. They can spot red flags and include language to address them.
If you’re not represented by an attorney, you may not see the potential problems with readymade forms.
More than anything, when you don’t hire an attorney, you miss out on their legal advice. For better or worse, the law is complicated. You may not understand your full legal rights at the end of your marriage. As with many things, you don’t know what you don’t know.
If you’re considering an uncontested divorce in Georgia, contact Porchlight. We specialize in helping our clients have amicable, drama-free divorces.