In Georgia, the opposite of an Uncontested Divorce (aka No-Fault Divorce) is a Fault Divorce, also known as a Contested Divorce.
Why proving fault (pursuing a contested divorce) is frequently not the best first option.
Divorces are time consuming and have significant monetary cost for the parties involved. This is especially true in cases in which the parties focus primarily on the faults of the other party during the marriage. It is not uncommon in family law situations for parties in a contested divorce situation to make the whole case about who caused the fault that led to the divorce.
In fact, it is considered a common action in today’s society to publically air marriage difficulties and a spouse’s perceived thoughts even on social media. However, just because it is common does not make it right and such actions can actually make a divorce situation much harder than it needs to be and the results are often less favorable to either party in such situations.
Fault in the Georgia Uncontested Divorce Process
However, in the context of an uncontested divorce case, proving fault is almost never an issue or productive. Because an uncontested divorce has to be agreed upon by both parties, most spouses will not agree to the divorce when they realize they are being accused of being the reason for the divorce, which will require one of the twelve (12) fault grounds for divorce that Georgia allows.
It is important to note the reasons a divorce can be filed in Georgia.
There are twelve (12) fault grounds and one (1) no-fault ground for filing a divorce case in Georgia. The vast majority of uncontested divorce cases assert the no-fault ground. Specifically, Georgia allows the following grounds for divorce in Georgia (summarized):
Fault Grounds for Divorce in Georgia
- Intermarriage by people within the prohibited degrees of kinship (consanguinity or affinity)
- Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage
- Impotency at the time of the marriage
- Force, menace, duress or fraud in obtaining the marriage
- Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband at the time of the marriage, and unknown to the husband
- Adultery during the marriage (either party)
- Willful and continued desertion by either of the parties for the term of one (1) year
- The conviction of a crime of moral turpitude that results in a prison sentence of two (2) years or longer
- Habitual intoxication
- Cruel treatment, which shall consist of the willful infliction of pain, bodily or mental, upon the complaining party, such as reasonably justifies apprehension of danger to life, limb, or health
- Incurable mental illness
- Habitual drug addiction
No-Fault Ground for Divorce in Georgia
- The marriage is irretrievably broken (Frequently used in uncontested cases)
Why Proving Fault May Not Be Best for Your Divorce Case
You may be able to logically, and with evidence point out every instance in which the other party was a fault and therefore caused the divorce. However, the real issue is will this really assist you in the divorce case; and most of the time the answer is no. The only fault that is proven in a divorce is within paperwork and evidence presented in court, which frequently will not have any significant effect on the ultimate outcome of the case.
For example, if the reason for the divorce is that the other spouse was unfaithful it is okay to provide this as a fault for the divorce and to provide any proof necessary for validating the claim, but this should not be the primary focus of your case. Focusing solely or primarily on making the other spouse at fault will only leave you less time to dispute more serious concerns such as, dividing assets, handling debts, determining support, determining custody, and determining visitation arrangements. In addition the focus of blaming fault may in fact work at your disadvantage by negatively impacting the judge’s decisions in regards to your case and may destroy the possibility of a cooperative and positive relationship that could exist following a divorce that may work to your advantage.
The Satisfaction of Placing Blame
There are several unrealistic expectations that spouses believe that they will attain if they can make the divorce process your entire fault. However, showing the court that your spouse is at fault (e.g. cheated during the marriage) is frequently unproductive. This is because the court are familiar with these tactics and rarely show significant favor with the spouse that is asserting that their spouse is at fault. The court may even view the primary reason that a party focuses on blaming their spouse for the divorce is to achieve some type of upperhand or justification for their actions and position. This is while the court frequently finds that the truth is somewhere in the middle, and both parties likely contributed to the marriage failing.
Common Themes of the Blame Game
The divorce courts in Georgia are familiar with common themes and arguments, narratives and themes asserted in a divorce predicated on fault grounds, such as:
- If it is entirely my spouse’s fault, for the divorce, and they are the sole reason the divorce was filed. This is not a realistic expectation as a judge will rarely find that a person causing fault is solely responsible for the situation and therefore not solely responsible for resolving the problems causing the divorce.
- If it is entirely my spouse’s fault for the divorce, and I should have sole or primary say in how the divorce case is resolved. Another way to state this is to say, “you’re the one who messed everything up and for that you shouldn’t have any involvement in fixing the situation.” This again is unrealistic and a judge will more realistically have both parties involved in resolving differences.
- If I can prove it’s my spouse’s entire fault, for the divorce, then my blaming them for the divorce will cause judge to force them to change their ways. A judge cannot legally force an individual to change their course of action unless the activity is illegal and causing continued har to the other spouse and/or children. Expecting the court to change your spouse’s personality is an unrealistic expectation. If your spouse is a serial cheater and always disrespectful and mean, they will probably continue to be this way, even if they get remarried.
- If it is entirely my spouse’s fault for the divorce, and I should achieve and receive everything that I want from the divorce. Some people have the unrealistic expectation that if they can attack the other person’s character and demonstrate their faults enough during the divorce then the judge will deny the guilty party custody, visitation, alimony, support, assets, etc. Reasonable and mature people know this is not ture. Again unless the actions are considered illegal and or heavily detrimental than it is unlikely that faults in the other person will cause for the judge to deny the other party custody, visitation or an equitable division of assets.
Exceptions – When Fault Does Matter
There are some notable exceptions, where proving fault does matter. These include but are not limited to:
Infidelity: Infidelity does not frequently matter in a divorce case. However, if a divorce case is filed, asserting and proving that the reason for the divorce is the other spouse’s infidelity, then it is a bar to them receiving alimony. This is a very important factor in some divorce cases, and should be explored and discussed with an experienced attorney if infidelity and alimony are issues in your case.
Alcoholism and Drug Use: If it can be shown to the court that the other spouse in a serious alcoholic and/or drug user, they may have their visitation and custody limited with the minor children. It is not common for the visitation to be supervised, but it may be depending on the seriousness of the situation.
Cruel Treatment: This is a fault ground that is frequently asserted in divorce cases. While it is often not a significant factor in the outcome of a divorce, if it can be proven that the other spouse is indeed a very cruel person that is likely to do harmful things to the minor children (verbal abuse, etc.), then their custody and visitation with the children may be very limited. In addition, the court may order that all visitation be supervised at the expense of at fault party.
However, in Most Other Divorce Cases
Placing all the blame in a divorce situation only makes the divorce case unnecessarily complex and prevents the real issues being addressed with adequate time. If it is possible to resolve the situation then the fault should be addressed with the court. However, this should only be with the intention of seeking resolution of the issue; such as, ordered therapy, counseling, or classes to resolve the particular issue at hand.
Otherwise the issue should be settled outside of court between the spouses themselves as to save time and money. The only real way to settle disputes is through civilized conflict resolution in which both parties have to cooperate / collaborate. Placing blame and pointing the finger by claiming excessive faults in a divorce is only going to eliminate the opportunities between the parties to resolve issues and find a middle ground.
In the long run most spouses find that settlements outside of court cases are more effective in achieving what they want out of a divorce or family law case and if the other spouse is unwilling to cooperate in settlement alternatives then they are force to settle in court with an order that does not fit perfectly with either parties desired goals. Overall it is better to promote a more positive atmosphere during a divorce to make the process easier and more efficient. Constant accusing your spouse of fault and causing the divorce hinders hinders the process and can make the process longer, more painful, more costly, and the relationship of ex-spouses more uncooperative.
Getting Legal Help for Your Georgia Uncontested Divorce Case
If you are interested in learning more about the uncontested divorce process in Georgia, call us at 770-609-1247 to speak with one of our experienced Georgia uncontested divorce attorneys. We have helped thousands of client’s resolve stressful legal situations quickly and efficiently, and we would like to help you also. Contact >