When you are thinking about getting a divorce, learning about the process before you start is a good idea. Being prepared can reduce the stress involved and prevent you from making a mistake that could delay the proceedings.
Atlanta, GA divorce requirements vary depending on key factors such as residency and whether you seek a fault-based divorce. State law determines some divorce procedures, but different counties impose additional rules you must follow. If you plan to file somewhere other than Fulton County, ask a knowledgeable divorce attorney whether the requirements will differ.
The Official Code of Georgia § 19-5-2 establishes residency requirements to get a divorce in Georgia. One of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least six months before either party can file for divorce here. When both spouses have been Georgia residents for six months or longer, the person filing for divorce (the petitioner) must do so in the Superior Court of the county where the other spouse (the respondent) lives.
The rules become more complicated when only one spouse lives in the state. If the spouse that resides outside of the State has been gone from Georgia for a period of longer than six months or does not have property in the State of Georgia, you can still obtain a divorce in Georgia, but the Court may be limited in what they can order the other person to do. However, if you have lived there for at least six months, your out-of-state spouse could submit a petition for divorce in the Superior Court in the Georgia county where you live.
The law also has special rules for military families. When you have lived on a military base in Atlanta, Georgia, for at least one year, you could file for divorce in a county adjacent to the base. If your home base is in Georgia but you are temporarily stationed elsewhere, you may still file in Georgia.
Marriage is a legal relationship, and undoing it requires citing legally accepted reasons for dissolution. Georgia allows divorce on no-fault or fault-based grounds. You could claim your marriage is irretrievably broken when you seek a no-fault divorce. Most couples choose this option even if they have fault-based grounds. A no-fault divorce usually proceeds more quickly, and you do not need to present evidence of marital misconduct.
However, sometimes there are good reasons to seek a fault-based divorce. The law offers a dozen fault-based grounds, including cruelty, adultery, and abandonment, among others. A dedicated family attorney in Atlanta can explain the pros and cons of selecting various grounds for divorce and the requirements for each.
To begin a divorce in Atlanta, the petitioner is required to file papers in court and pay the filing fee. The papers include the Petition for Divorce and other supporting documents, such as agreements regarding custody, property division, and spousal support.
The petitioner must ensure the respondent receives the petition and other documents by hiring the sheriff or a process server to physically hand them the papers. The person who serves the papers then completes an Affidavit of Service to verify that they gave the papers to the respondent or a person over 14 years old at the respondent’s residence.
While the petitioner cannot serve the papers themselves, the couple could work together to avoid the expense of hiring someone. The petitioner could send a copy of the filing to the respondent’s attorney, and the respondent could sign an Acknowledgment of Service.
Most Georgia counties publish the documents you need to begin your divorce on their websites. Although reviewing these websites could be helpful to you in understanding the process, they are no substitute for proper legal guidance.
Working with a capable attorney is the best way to ensure you comply with all the Atlanta, GA divorce requirements. Schedule a consultation with a trusted member of our team by calling the Atlanta Divorce Law Group today.