How long does a contested divorce take in Georgia?

Last updated on June 26, 2024

People preparing for divorce in Georgia often have a lot of questions. They want to know what the law requires and what rights they may have. Many people who have made the decision to divorce are eager to complete the process quickly so they can move on with their lives.

However, their desire for a streamlined divorce may be at odds with the level of conflict they have with their spouse. Contested divorces have a tendency to be protracted and complicated legal matters. How long can someone facing a contested divorce expect the process to take?

Even the fastest divorces take weeks

Under Georgia state statutes, there is a mandatory waiting period that applies when someone files for divorce. Spouses generally need to wait at least 30 days after filing the documents and providing appropriate legal service to finalize the divorce. The fastest divorce possible requires a minimum of 31 days.

In many cases, it can take substantially longer than that to go from the initial filing to the finalization of the divorce decrees. In contested divorces, spouses can anticipate a much longer overall process that takes multiple months, possibly even more than a year.

What does a contested divorce involve?

The initial divorce paperwork submitted to the courts typically proposes a property division arrangement and custody arrangements if there are children in the family. The other spouse then has an opportunity to respond to those proposed terms and counter them with different terms.

In a contested divorce, the spouses have not yet reached an agreement on how to resolve the practical issues facing their family. They may spend months negotiating, possibly through their lawyers, attempting to settle their disagreements. In some cases, they may attend mediation sessions.

If those efforts prove unsuccessful, then they may eventually find themselves in family court. Litigated or contested divorces can take a while to resolve. It can take weeks to secure a hearing in court. The more information the spouses need to present to the judge, the longer divorce litigation may require.

Unfortunately, there is no exact timeline for a contested divorce. It could easily take six months, a year or even longer. Instead of rushing through the process, it is usually better to focus on securing the best term possible. Those preparing for contested divorces may want to explore other options to speed up the process if the timeline is important in their case.

Spouses who find a way to settle with each other can potentially complete their divorce process quicker than those who have to take their case all the way through the court system. Learning more about the potential timeline for a contested divorce can help people prepare for the path ahead in informed ways.

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