Filing for divorce before settling all the issues required to dissolve a marriage, such as property division, child custody, and spousal support, might cause your divorce to be contested. A contested divorce could lead to a trial, but spouses often reach a settlement before this point.
When you are involved in a contested divorce, you need a divorce attorney with trial and negotiating skills. An Atlanta, GA contested divorce lawyer can take the lead in advocating on your behalf to ensure your best interests are preserved. Reach out to our team today to learn more.
The spouse who files for divorce is the plaintiff, and the other spouse is the defendant. A plaintiff must have lived in Georgia for at least six months before they can bring a divorce action.
Spouses must be separated when a plaintiff files for divorce. However, being separated does not have to mean living in separate homes. You could reside under the same roof with your spouse but must have ceased sexual relations with the intention to divorce.
The Official Code of Georgia § 19-5-3 lists the legal grounds for divorce. Citing irreconcilable differences, a no-fault grounds, is often the best strategy as it spares either of you from having to prove the other’s marital misconduct. However, if fault-based grounds exist, it is sometimes advantageous to establish them. It is important to note that divorces based on fault have a mandatory waiting period of 46 days. An Atlanta, GA contested divorce attorney can discuss the pros and cons of citing fault in a specific case.
When a plaintiff files a complaint for divorce, the defendant must file an answer within 30 days. A contested divorce attorney in Atlanta, GA can help individuals prepare their initial filing and ensure that the family courts and the other spouse receive it timely. Once a plaintiff files a divorce petition, the law prohibits either spouse from disposing of any marital property or moving the children out of state. Georgia courts often issue orders prohibiting these actions.
In Fulton County, divorce actions involve a series of pre-scheduled status conferences and mandatory discovery. Family courts will hold a 30-day status conference after both parties have submitted their initial filings. Both parties must attend.
The mandatory discovery includes a set of questions each party must answer about their legal residence, income from all sources, their children, and any specific needs the children have. The parties also must bring supporting documents, including three years of tax returns, one year of pay stubs, receipts for childcare and activities the children participate in, and other proof of the parties’ financial position.
Once the parties have reviewed each others’ initial document production, the attorneys often present more specific requests for information and documents. As they receive the information and attempt to verify it, they typically begin negotiating the issues the couple must resolve in their divorce:
Status conferences will occur at the 30-day, 60-day, and 120-day mark, and roughly every eight weeks after that. Status conferences are informal proceedings in a conference room, not a courtroom. A judicial officer typically presides and can issue temporary orders or require the spouses to seek mediation.
Mediation often results in temporary agreements or even final settlements. Negotiations between the Atlanta, GA divorce attorneys often resolve contested issues not finalized in mediation. In most cases, a couple settles before a trial. However, if necessary, our firm is prepared to present evidence, examine witnesses, and argue strenuously before a judge to achieve the desired result.
A contested divorce is necessary for many couples, especially if their finances are complex or they disagree about what is best for their children. The discovery process can provide the couple with the information they need to agree on contentious issues. If a pre-trial settlement is impossible, our attorneys can ensure that the judge hears compelling evidence supporting a spouse’s position.
An Atlanta, GA contested divorce lawyer has the knowledge and skills to achieve the results you are looking for. Reach out to our team today to schedule a consultation.