The Process And Timeline For Your Georgia Divorce
Two of the most common questions about divorce are “What happens next?” and “How long will this take?” Every divorce is different, but there are specific procedures and time frames built into the law. The experienced attorneys of The Siemon Law Firm can sit down with you to gauge how your divorce will likely play out. From there we can help you develop a “roadmap” to navigate the twists and turns of this difficult journey.
- Seeking counsel – You will need sound advice and strong advocacy. You will need to share personal details of your life. It is critical to find caring and accomplished lawyers whom you trust to protect your best interests.
- Forming a plan – Divorce is more than simply getting “unhitched.” Where will you live after divorce? How will your life be different on one income? How will your children take the news? Our legal counsel can help you solidify your goals and priorities before you move forward with the legal process.
The Georgia Divorce Timeline
1. Filing the papers – One spouse must formally petition the court for a divorce. One important consideration is whether to seek a no-fault divorce or whether to assert grounds for divorce, such adultery, cruelty or desertion.
2. Answering the complaint – Once served with divorce papers, the other spouse has 30 days to file a formal response with the court, including any defenses or counterclaims.
3. Standing orders – Upon the filing of the divorce complaint, the court will automatically issue standing orders that prohibit either spouse from engaging in conduct such as draining bank accounts or moving the children out of the jurisdiction.
4. Discovery – Both spouses are required to fully disclose to the court and share information with the other side relating to income, assets, accounts, living expenses and other relevant matters. It is sometimes necessary to hire professionals to uncover assets that a spouse has hidden or transferred in anticipation of divorce.
5. Temporary orders – The divorce process can take a year or more, but meanwhile life goes on. Either spouse can request a court hearing for interim orders to address custody of children, child support, spousal support and possession of joint property. Although these orders are “temporary,” they have immediate and long-term implications. You and your legal counsel must be proactive and strategic in these important proceedings.
6. Pretrial negotiation – There are dozens of details to work out, including the marital residence, division of marital assets and debts, custody arrangements, and alimony (if applicable). We encourage clients to explore divorce mediation, in addition to traditional negotiations, to resolve some or all disputes out of court. Mediation puts the solutions in your hands and is generally quicker and less expensive than litigation.
7. Custody proceedings – If you have kids, working out custody terms and a parenting plan will be a central focus of your divorce. If you are unable to agree on co-parenting arrangements, a judge will make those decisions in a contested custody hearing. Custody disputes add significantly to the cost and length of a divorce.
8. Late case evaluation – At or beyond the 120-day mark, the court may hold a status conference to gauge whether the divorce is likely to settle or whether it is headed for trial. A neutral evaluator makes a recommendation to the judge. The court may in turn schedule a settlement conference to urge the parties toward an agreement.
9. Divorce trial – If negotiations break down, the court schedules a trial date. At this point, you are at least six months or a year into the process. Under Georgia law, a divorce may be heard by a judge or by a jury. Each side will present their arguments and the court or jury will render their decision on (a) granting the divorce and (b) the details of property, custody and financial support. That decision is final, unless there are procedural grounds to appeal the outcome.
10. Post-divorce – Well after the divorce decree is entered and the spouses have gone their separate ways, it may be necessary to go back to court to enforce the property settlement, to enforce child support or visitation, or to modify the custody or support orders.
Quality Counsel And Support From Start To Finish
The Siemon Law Firm is a leading family law firm in Georgia, with offices in Cumming, Marietta, Alpharetta and Atlanta. Our skilled divorce lawyers provide the steady guidance, thoughtful solutions and fierce representation to lead you through the divorce process to the best possible outcome.
Contact us today if you are considering a divorce or if you believe your spouse is preparing to divorce you. Call 770-888-5120 or fill out our contact form to arrange a consultation about your rights, your options and how our focused experience can help.