The divorce process is often expensive, overwhelming, and stressful because spouses need to make a lot of important decisions that will significantly affect their future. These can include payment of mutual debts, deciding on spousal or child support, dividing assets, and creating a parenting agreement. However, sometimes couples don’t have anything to share (no assets, no spousal support necessary, and no kids) or they can agree on everything by themselves. When that is the case, couples can file an uncontested divorce, which is the easiest and quickest form of a divorce.
What must be understood is that Georgia still accepts fault based divorce. This means that a plaintiff must present evidence of a certain past behavior on the part of the defendant, which can be recognized as one of the legally accepted grounds for divorce in Georgia. McConaughey, Ga. Divorce, Alimony and Child Custody 2016-2017 Ed. § 4:1 In general, pg. 118.
The defendant then has to argue against the plaintiff unless a prenuptial agreement is in effect. This usually leads to the common adversarial proceedings found in most divorce cases. This adversarial nature is not present in an uncontested divorce case. Also, an uncontested divorce should not be confused with the divorce claim that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Unlike an uncontested divorce, a divorce that has been irretrievably broken can be contested between the parties and can be adversarial just like any other divorce case. McConaughey, Ga. Divorce, Alimony and Child Custody 2016-2017 Ed. § 4:2 Marriage is irretrievably broken, pg. 120.
What this means is that there is a difference between an uncontested divorce and a divorce that is being done based on the grounds of the marriage being irretrievably broken. An irretrievably broken marriage grounds is grounds for divorce, which means it is one of the reasons that the Georgia Legislature has recognized as a reason to have a divorce. An uncontested divorce is still a form of divorce proceeding, but it is not a grounds for divorce itself.
What is an Uncontested Divorce According to Georgia Law?
When spouses can come to an agreement on everything, they can complete an uncontested divorce form. A Georgia divorce is considered uncontested if:
- You and your spouse are separated for a certain period of time. This does not mean the parties have to be physically living in separate homes, but it does mean the parties should not be engaged in sexual intercourse;
- You and your spouse both sign the court papers where you show that you agree about what the court should order the parties to do as a part of the divorce. In an uncontested divorce, the parties do not ask the court to make any decisions and you agree that you are eligible for divorce and the terms of the divorce.
If your answer is yes to both points, you may start completing the required forms and begin your uncontested divorce. The person who files the documents is called the petitioner and the other spouse is the respondent.
Update for 2019: Starting January 2019, all uncontested divorce cases filed in Georgia must be filed electronically through the internet or in person at the appropriate Superior Court clerks office. See Senate Bill 407, Year 2018.
How to Confirm your Eligibility?
In order to seek a divorce in the Georgian courts, you have to prove that both you and your spouse live in the state. According to Georgia law, there are three ways to prove your residency and express the need to file your divorce.
You have to be a bona fide resident of the state of Georgia for six months or longer before you file for divorce. During this time you have to have residency in the state of Georgia. This still applies even if you have moved to multiple homes during the six month period. Proof usually consists of an signed and notarized affidavit filed with the court. However, in the rare instance the court requires additional proof, you can affirm your residency by producing common documents. The most common items of proof are voter registration, driver’s license, rent receipts, or utility bills.
However, even if you live in another state, you still have the right to file for divorce in Georgia if your spouse has been a resident of the state for six (6) months or longer. Moreover, if you have been a resident of an army post or a military base for a year or longer, you can file for your divorce in a county adjacent to your base. If this applies to you make sure to keep documentation proving your residency when you living in military-controlled housing. O.C.G.A. § 19-5-2 Resident Requirements; venue.
Additionally, venue can be conferred by consent, which allows for a divorce case to be considered uncontested. Williams v. Williams, 259 Ga. 788 (1990).
What Documents Are Needed to file an Uncontested Divorce?
The following list are the recommended documents to be completed and filed in a Georgia uncontested divorce. While an uncontested divorce can feasibly be completed with fewer documents, various problem are likely to arise, which will significantly delay the divorce being granted.
Required or Recommended Uncontested Divorce Documents for All Cases
- Acknowledgment of Service, Consent to Jurisdiction, Waiver and Consent to Venue
- Affidavit of Plaintiff
- Affidavit of Understanding of Non-Representation
- Complaint for Divorce (aka Petition for Divorce)
- Consent to Hearing Thirty-One (31) Days After Service
- Divorce Settlement Agreement
- Domestic Relations Case Filing Information Form
- Domestic Relations Case Final Disposition Information Form
- Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit
- Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce
- Motion and Brief for Judgment on the Pleadings
- Notice of Appearance and Request for Notices (aka Entry of Appearance)
- Report of Divorce Annulment or Dissolution of Marriage
- Summons (the form can vary by the county the case is filed)
- Verification for Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit
- Verification of Complaint for Divorce
- Standing Orders (varies by the county the case is filed)
Additional Forms – Required Uncontested Divorce Documents for All Cases Involving Minor Children
- Child Support Addendum
- Child Support Worksheet
- Parenting Plan
In addition, depending on what county in Georgia your case is filed, there may be additional forms that are required to be completed and filed with the court.
When uncontested divorces are trying to reach the court, the court may hear the cases when both parties have a written consent form for a hearing, which may be granted anytime after thirty-one (31) days after service or when service has been acknowledged, and proof of service has been filed with the court. Also, when a divorce action has been filed with the court, and the defendant has not responded after being served within forty-six (46) days, the divorce may be granted by the court, unless an extension is approved.
Next, if the divorce action is served by publication, after sixty-one (61) days or more, the judge may grant the action. Service by publication is usually a method of last resort and is usually necesarry when one party cannot be found or is consistently successful at avoiding personal service. Finally, all “divorce actions with orders for publication or acknowledgments of service should be filed prior to or contemporaneously with the signing of the order or acknowledgment.” GA R UNIF SUPER CT Rule 24.6 Uncontested Divorce Actions. In many cases, neither party is required to attend court in person for the divorce to be granted. However, it is not uncommon, depending on the county the case is filed for a short uncontested divorce hearing to be mandatory.
Another means by which the court can grant an uncontested divorce is when the defendant fails to file any pleadings (an answer or response) in their defense. The court considers this to be an uncontested divorce as well, and does not require any agreement between the two parties, based on case law and statutes. Hardwick v Hardwick, 245 Ga. 570 (1980). As stated above, when the defendant in a divorce case has not responded after being served within forty-six (46) days, the divorce may be granted by the court, unless an extension is approved.
The required paperwork can vary for divorce from county to county, so more forms may be required in addition to those mentioned above. The uncontested divorce papers can look rather complex to most people not trained in the legal process. This is because the documents are complex, relying on many different codes and statutes developed over time and not normally readily organized for general use by the public. Because of all the terminology used in law and legal documents, completing even an uncontested divorce without an attorney can be very difficult, especially if any assets, debts, support issues or children are involved in the case.
Call us now, and one of our experienced Georgia uncontested divorce attorneys will lead you through the process and help you with understanding and completing the forms. If you are contemplating an uncontested divorce and need the help of an experienced divorce attorney, call us at 770-609-1247 to discuss your case. Contact >