I want a divorce and lost our marriage license. Do I need it to file?
In the vast majority of divorce cases the court will not ask to see the marriage license. By default, under Georgia law a copy of a marriage license is not required. However, you do need to be able to state when you got married. It is unusual to have to state where you got married, but the date of the marriage and the date the parties separated is required. In the rare instance a marriage license is required, a certified copy can be obtained from the state where the marriage was performed. One instance where a marriage license may be required is in a contested divorce where the other party disputes that there ever was a marriage between the parties. In other words, in rare circumstances the marriage license may be needed to prove or show evidence that the parties were actually married.
What is a No-Fault Divorce?
A no-fault divorce is a divorce that is granted with no showing of fault being required. The only requirement for a no-fault divorce is that the person asking for the divorce request the divorce under the premise that “The marriage is irretrievably broken.” Under Georgia divorce law, the basis for a no fault divorce can be found under O.C.G.A. § 19-5-3 – Grounds for total divorce. Specifically no fault divorces are allowed under Section “(13) The marriage is irretrievably broken. Under no circumstances shall the court grant a divorce on this ground until not less than 30 days from the date of service on the respondent.” In a no-fault divorce, no proof of infidelity, cruel treatment, addiction, alcoholism or other factors are required. This makes it easier to obtain the divorce because it less likely that the other party with object to the divorce if they are not being accused of being at being as fault for the divorce. This is important because in a Georgia uncontested divorce, the other party will need to get a copy of the Complaint for Divorce, which will list the reason(s) given for the divorce. If the other party disagrees for the reason given for the divorce, they may also refuse to sign the Divorce Settlement Agreement and other documents required to complete the divorce.
What is the fastest way to get a divorce?
The fastest way to get a divorce is to have an attorney draft all the required paper work for an uncontested divorce; have both spouses sign the paperwork (in blue in and notarize) and include all the appropriate pleadings required to avoid a court hearing. If this is done, in most cases a divorce can be finalized in less than sixty (60) days. In more general terms, the time frame for a divorce usually depends on how fast the court in the county the case is filed reviews and processes the documents and whether or not the other spouse agrees with the divorce. If both spouses agree to the divorce then an uncontested divorce can be filed and all that is left would be for the court to finalize it. While the utilization of an attorney’s services are not required, an experienced divorce attorney can usually speed up the process for most cases, especially cases involving minor children, assets and/or debts.
After I file for divorce, do I have to continue to live in Georgia?
You do not. By filing an action for divorce in Georgia, you are submitting yourself to the court’s jurisdiction. It is worth mentioning that if your cases is a contested divorce, it could be quite difficult to litigate a divorce from another state. So if you are involved in a contested divorce, it would be best to remain in the state while your divorce is processing. However, once a divorce case is filed both of the parties are free to move to another city, state or even out of the United States. It has been our experience that in an uncontested divorce, it is rarely an issue if one or both of the parties move after the case has been filed with the court.
How long do we have to be married before we can get a divorce?
There is no time restriction on how long a couple has to be married before they can file for divorce. However, in the state of Georgia the one of the spouses (not both) has to be a resident for at least six (6) months before they can file for divorce. Generally, there are no exceptions to this rule. The filing of a case for separate maintenance (informally known as a legal separation) is an option for parties that have recently moved to Georgia.
At what point during the process can a spouse remarry or start dating?
It is best if any dating is done once the divorce has been finalized. However, this is usually only so that the other party does not retaliate or become disagreeable. In regard to remarrying, the divorce must be finalized before either party can legally remarry. Otherwise, the party(ies) will be guilty of bigamy which is against Georgia law. Under Georgia law, “A person convicted of the offense of bigamy shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years.” See O.C.G.A. § 16-6-20 – Bigamy
My wife and I have minor children and property but we also want to get a divorce, what can we do?
It depends on whether you and your spouse can reach an agreement on how the property will be divided, child support, custody, and visiting rights. If the spouses can agree on most things then an uncontested divorce should be filed. If no agreements can be reached, you will need to file a contested divorce case and it will be up to the court to determine how assets are divided, the custody and visitation of the minor children, child support and if there will be any alimony and spousal support paid.
My wife and I have no property to divide, what are out options?
If there is no property to divide and both of the spouses agree to the divorce, then an uncontested divorce would be the best option. Once an uncontested divorce has been filed the other spouse must be made aware of the divorce, primarily through being served. An uncontested divorce does not have to be served by a sheriff’s deputy or process server. Rather, the other party only needs to sign an “Acknowledgement of Service” in the presence of a notary public. The defendant does not usually have to respond to the divorce or attend a court hearing for an uncontested divorce to be finalized.
Can I get divorced without telling my spouse?
Before the divorce can proceed, the other spouse must be served and given an opportunity to respond. If the other spouse cannot be located with reasonable effort, the court will usually permit notification by publication in a news paper in place of being personally served. If still the other spouse does not respond to the publication, then the divorce will proceed without the other spouse. However, avoiding the serving of a divorce on your spouse is not allowed merely because the party requesting the divorce does not want their spouse to know about the divorce. Related to this topic is that technically, a divorce is not uncontested if it is not agreed to by the other party. While it is not uncommon for divorce to be filed and service performed by publication, this is not technically the same as an uncontested divorce. Divorces by publication also do not always settle all issues as to division of assets, division of debts, child custody and child support.
Do I have to go in person to the court and file for divorce?
No. Starting January 2019, all Superior Courts and counties in Georgia will require all divorce cases to be filed online using the internet (informally referred to as “electronic filing”). Each county will have its own system for filing divorce cases, but most counties will use systems that are similar to each other. While this can be a convenience, electronic filing systems can also be very difficult to use properly the first time.
However, most counties will still allow a person requesting a divorce to file documents in-person at the courthouse, where the documents will be scanned and uploaded to the court’s electronic filing system. Typically help will be offered if a person decides to go to the court in person to file their documents. If you just need someone else to file divorce documents for you, usually a family member, friend or even a cooperative spouse will be allowed to go to the court and file the divorce for you. However, it is recommended that if you do send someone else, that they have some knowledge about your divorce in case they are asked any questions.
We got married in one state but we then moved to Georgia, where do I file for divorce?
You should file for divorce in the state you are currently living in (in this instance, Georgia). Some states have requirements that must be met before a divorce can be filed. In the state of Georgia there is a residency requirement of six (6) months. If you or your spouse have not yet live in Georgia for six (6) months, you can file for Separate Maintenance (similar to a “legal separation”) and then file for divorce after the residence requirements have been met. In any event, it is best to speak with an experienced divorce attorney that practices law in the state you currently reside.
My spouse and I separated and he moved to another state. They have already filed for divorce in the state he/she lives in. Can my spouse do that, and can I use my attorney from the state I live in?
As long as they have met the requirements for filing a divorce in the state your spouse lives in, they can file for a divorce. It is recommended that you find an attorney in that state unless the attorney you have can also practice law in both states. It is not recommended to also file a divorce in the state you live in if there is an existing case in another state, as this will only cause confusion and added expenses. Again, seek the advice of an experienced divorce attorney to help you choose the best course of action.
Do I have to have permission from my spouse to file for divorce?
No, you do not need the consent of the other spouse to file for a divorce. However, for the divorce case to proceed you will have to be properly served. It is possible that they will want to oppose the divorce, and this will make it a contested divorce. Contested divorces tend to take longer and are significantly more expensive than uncontested divorces to finalize. Georgia uncontested divorces contemplate that both parties are in agreement about the divorce, including where and when it will be filed.
Do I have to file for child support or alimony first and then file for divorce?
No, you can make arrangements for child support or alimony as a part of the divorce case. However, a divorce case is not required to obtain child support. An experienced family law or divorce attorney can explain your options for obtaining child support. In addition, a separate maintenance case (informally called “legal separation”) can be used to obtain child support and/or alimony without a divorce being necessary.
What do I do if we have lived separately, haven’t had any relations, and we lead different lives, but are still married?
It sounds like uncontested divorce would be the best option for both of you if you are interested in getting a divorce. An uncontested divorce generally gets finalized in good time if both of the spouses agree over any issues that could be involved. However, if you want an uncontested divorce you or your attorney will need to contact your spouse to discuss the proposed divorce agreement, which will need to be signed and notarized by both spouses.
I filed for divorce and then my spouse filed for divorce. Is that a problem and what can we do?
If one spouse has already filed for divorce and the other spouse also files for divorce, what is normally done is that one of the cases is dismissed while proceeding with the other one. Usually, the second case filed will be dismissed by the court. However, jurisdiction and venue are issues that need to be examined when trying to decide which case should be dismissed. If the parties cannot agree how to proceed, the court will have to decide which case should be dismissed. If the issue is each petition was filed in a different county, the parties should negotiate to determine where the divorce case should proceed. If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the court can be asked to decide for the parties. If the parties live in separate counties, the court will examine the following facts when deciding which case will move forward:
- where do the parties reside
- where (the county) and when were the cases filed
- have any of the parties been served, and if yes, have they responded to the divorce (filed an answer, and counterclaim)
In some instances, the court will issue an order joining the two cases, and moving the cases to one county if needed. The use of an experienced divorce attorney can usually help in resolving issues where two divorce cases are filed and still open.
Need help with your Georgia uncontested divorce?
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