An uncontested divorce in Georgia is the simplest and fastest way to end your marriage. You won’t need to employ an attorney or suffer protracted court fights if you and your husband can find some common ground and cooperate. Instead, you may both concentrate on the next chapter of your life with ease. If an uncontested divorce is an option for you, here’s what you need to know.
What Exactly Is an Uncontested Divorce?
You and your spouse agree on all points in your divorce in an uncontested divorce including the following:
- how you intend to divide custody, parenting time, and parental obligations
- the amount and time frame for any child support
- the duration and amount of any spousal support (alimony)
- Division of all property, and
- the distribution of all debt
You don’t have to go to court to litigate once you’ve made these agreements. Instead, you file court forms and a “divorce settlement agreement” that describes the decisions you’ve made about how you want to divide your property and debts, how you want to split custody of your children, and whether support payments will be transferred.
How Long Does This Process Take in Georgia?
Your settlement in an uncontested divorce in Georgia must be approved by the local court, which should not be a problem. A settlement agreement is usually approved by the judge unless it is evident that the terms are completely unjust to one participant or were negotiated under duress.
The divorce will be final once the required time (determined by state law) has passed. Such procedures, however, are strictly regulated and are only possible for relatively brief marriages, typically lasting five or fewer years.
In an uncontested case, there is no trial, but there is a final hearing before the judge. Following service, there is a minimum of a 31-day waiting time. After that period, if both parties have signed a Consent to Trial 31 Days After Service and Waiver of Right to Trial by Jury, there will be a hearing for the case. Depending on court backlogs, judge availability, and other circumstances, the process can often take 60 days or more.
How to Get an Uncontested Divorce in Georgia
Before you may pursue an uncontested divorce in Georgia, you must first ensure that the state has jurisdiction by meeting divorce residence requirements. This means that you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before applying for a divorce.
Collect Your Information
Even if your divorce is uncontested, you’ll need to collect important facts to assist draft a proper settlement agreement. You should be prepared to negotiate alimony, parenting plan, child custody, asset and debt distribution, and other relevant matters authoritatively.
The more prepared you are ahead of time, the more smoothly these interactions should go. Personal information, income and expense statements, child-related expenses, banking documents, tax and real estate records, retirement account information, insurance policies, estate planning paperwork, and other documents will be required. It takes some time, so it is better to get started as soon as possible.
Finish the Paperwork
Depending on your situation, you will need to submit different forms to the court. One of the most important points to consider is whether minor children are included in your divorce proceedings. In general, the forms required to fill out, either at the start of your case or as you progress through the various steps are:
- Information Form for Case Filing
- Divorce Petition – In some counties, there are two petition forms: a Divorce Petition Without Children and a Divorce Petition with Minor Children.
- Entry of Service by a Sheriff
- Acceptance of Service and Consent to Jurisdiction
- Financial Affidavit for Domestic Relations
- Disclosure Statement – This form specifies whether the parties have reached an agreement.
- Response and Counterclaim
- Nisi’s rule (Notice of Hearing)
- Decree and Final Judgment
- Divorce, Annulment, or Dissolution of Marriage Report
There should be a continual dialogue between you to foster agreement. Maintaining open lines of communication between spouses in an uncontested divorce is crucial, especially when dealing with paperwork.
When your paperwork is complete, you will file it with the county clerk where your husband resides. If you file, you are referred to as the plaintiff, and your husband is named as the defendant.
Is a Lawyer Necessary for an Uncontested Divorce?
In either a disputed or an uncontested divorce, you are not compelled by law to hire a lawyer. In the case of an uncontested divorce, you may be able to handle the matter without the assistance of a lawyer. However, it is always a good idea to have a lawyer review your agreement to ensure that your rights are protected.
It may also be beneficial to employ a mediator to assist you and your spouse in reaching an agreement. A mediator is a trained professional who assists spouses in exploring their alternatives and reaching an agreement.
The Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce
The most obvious benefit is the cost savings. Uncontested divorces are, on average, substantially less expensive than contentious divorces. In many cases, an uncontested divorce can be accomplished by paying only the court filing fees (usually a few hundred dollars).
Even if attorneys are engaged in filing papers or assisting with limited negotiations, fees can be kept minimal if the couple can achieve an agreement without resorting to court proceedings. The ability to avoid going to court is another significant benefit of uncontested divorce. Keeping disagreement to a minimum might also help everyone involved recover faster.
When an Uncontested Divorce Is Not a Realistic Option
An uncontested divorce may not be beneficial for couples who have complex conditions and considerable conflicts. Significant inequalities in power—financial or emotional—between couples may complicate issues, such as when one spouse earns significantly more than the other. A spouse who has witnessed or suspects domestic violence by the other spouse will be at a disadvantage in any discussion and will most certainly require legal assistance.
Even if an uncontested divorce isn’t an option, a couple should investigate whether they can settle certain matters outside of court before concluding that a fully fought divorce trial is the only choice. Protracted litigation is usually confrontational and costly; reducing the number of issues over which you must battle is the best approach to conserve assets and lessen conflict.
To answer the first question, you may not need to appear in court to obtain a divorce in Georgia. If you are the one who filed for divorce, you must be at the final hearing. If you want a quick and easy divorce without having to go to court, the ideal strategy is to conclude the terms of a marriage settlement agreement as soon as possible and before the final hearing.