Sometimes married couples fall out of love, and divorces are unfortunately frequent in Atlanta. If you are considering ending your marriage, you should get in touch with a seasoned family law attorney. An experienced Atlanta divorce lawyer can help you through the process of dissolution and work with you to pursue fair and equitable results through litigation.
Some estranged partners in Atlanta may try to avoid divorce altogether and instead have their marriage annulled. However, only specific circumstances may warrant an annulment. According to the Official Code of Georgia § 19-4-2, couples have the ability to file a petition for either divorce or annulment.
Atlanta courts typically only allow an annulment when a marriage is deemed “void by law.” Divorce, on the other hand, can be a much longer procedure, as it concerns the final dissolution of a legal marriage. For this reason, it could be substantially beneficial to retain a skilled Atlanta divorce attorney before entering litigation.
A spouse must petition the courts for divorce by listing the reasons for wanting to leave their marriage. O.C.G.A. § 19-5-3 lists 13 circumstances that provide legal grounds for a divorce. A couple may file for the dissolution of their marriage for the following reasons:
Some spouses many cite more than one justification for the ending of their marriage. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer in Atlanta should be familiar with the various legal grounds for marriage dissolution.
A judge’s final decree of divorce legally dissolves a marriage, which means that either ex-spouse is free to marry again if they so desire. Spouses who changed their last name after getting married would be able to revert their last name back to any previous name, including their maiden name.
The law does not allow for an instantaneous divorce in Atlanta. Instead, there is a waiting period that applies to every case. This is true whether the applicant pursued a fault-based divorce (in which case the waiting period is 46 days) or if they filed a no-fault petition, which must wait 31 days.
This waiting period begins to expire when the initial divorce papers are served. The court will keep track of this deadline and will not issue a decree until the deadline expires. This is true even if both parties are in agreement on every major issue in the case.
The purpose of the waiting period is to ensure that the non-filing spouse has ample time to object if they choose to do so.
As is the case with every jurisdiction, there are residency requirements that apply to anyone seeking a divorce in Atlanta. In order for a spouse to successfully file for divorce in Atlanta, they must meet the residency requirements set out in Georgia state law.
For a divorce case to proceed, at least one of the spouses must be a resident of Georgia. If neither party is a resident of the state, the courts will generally not allow divorce proceedings to move forward.
Under the law, residency involves a party living within the boundaries of the state for at least six months before they file for divorce. It is important to note that the filing spouse does not have to live within the state, as long as the other party does.
There is another location-based requirement under the law as well. Not only must a spouse file in the appropriate state, they must also file in the correct county. A divorce petition must be filed in the Superior Court of the county where one of the spouses resides. Filing a petition in the wrong court could see it dismissed.
There is no simple workaround in this situation. The court will not allow a spouse to waive these requirements, meaning that at least one spouse must become a resident of the state for the minimum amount of time before a divorce in Atlanta is a possibility.
One of the most complex aspects of divorcing in Atlanta is dividing the marital property. Often, the conflict that surrounds this division of property can be extensive.
Dividing property within a marriage can be complex. For starters, the court must first determine what property—if any—should be split between the couple. The court will only divide marital property, which is generally property obtained during the course of the marriage, with a few exceptions. Individual property that belongs to one spouse or the other is free from the risk of division.
The courts in these cases rely on an equitable division of property. That means a judge will divide the property in a way that is fair—even if one party gets more than the other.
Spousal maintenance, or alimony, might be necessary for some Atlanta couples. O.C.G.A. § 19-6-5 mandates that courts take several variables into consideration when deciding whether and to what degree to allow alimony. When fashioning an order for spousal maintenance, a judge may consider the ages and educational levels of both partners as well as their current standards of living, the length of their marriage, and the financial resources of each party.
Alimony can also be ordered temporarily in order to allow time for the receiving spouse to complete an educational program that may augment their earning capacity. Once retained, a diligent divorce attorney in Atlanta can provide further details on spousal maintenance orders and how they change with circumstances.
Going through a divorce may not be a pleasant experience, but retaining skilled legal counsel could make the process easier. An Atlanta divorce lawyer can help you take the lead in your case and solidify your goals for exiting your marriage. Call today to schedule an initial consultation with our intake team.
By: Samantha B
Atlanta Divorce Law Group