In Georgia, you can file for divorce on fault-based grounds, such as adultery or cruel treatment. However, most divorcing couples in Georgia obtain a no-fault divorce, which only requires you to show the court that your marriage is “irretrievably broken” with no hope for reconciliation.
Certain issues must be resolved before a judge can grant you a divorce. You and your spouse must decide how your property is divided, how to divide your debt, and whether one spouse will pay the other alimony. If you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement on these issues, a judge or jury will decide them for you. If one spouse is going to pay the other alimony, you must decide the alimony’s amount and duration.
If you have kids, you’ll also need to determine child custody. This includes deciding which parent will have the final say on decisions involving each child’s medical issues, educational issues, religion, and extracurricular activities. You’ll also need to come up with a parenting plan, including a visitation schedule for each child, transportation for the children, and other issues. Georgia uses Child Support Guidelines to help couples and judges determine the appropriate amount of child support. Georgia follows an “income shares” model where each parent’s contribution to the child’s expenses is calculated by using the parents’ relative incomes as a starting point and making adjustments as appropriate.
After one spouse or the other files for divorce, there’s a “discovery period” during which you and your spouse gather evidence and information to help you make all the decisions you’ll need to make to complete the divorce. Discovery includes obtaining documents (such as mortgage documents, bank records and the like), depositions (cross-examinations of individuals with information relevant to the case), and other information gathering methods.
You should make a concerted effort to settle your divorce case without going to trial. In fact, many counties require to you attend a mediation to try to settle your case before you’re allowed to have a trial on your case. Your mediation is essentially a settlement conference with an impartial mediator who helps the two sides come to an agreement. More than 90% of divorce cases settle before trial. In case your divorce case doesn’t settle, however, you’ll want to be sure to hire an attorney with trial experience that can present your case before a judge or jury. If you’re considering divorce, schedule a consultation with a highly experienced attorney now.