Divorces and separations are one of the most painful things you can go through. Dealing with legal issues is never a straightforward affair, and when you add on the stress and emotions that stem from a divorce, it can be a nightmare. There are a lot of questions that you may need to ask and for specifics we recommend that you contact our offices to speak with an experienced attorney. However, if you just want to get a feel for the subject, the following questions are the ones most commonly asked by our clients:
Is there a difference between a divorce and a legal separation?
In Georgia there is actually no such thing as a legal separation. We have what’s called a Separate Maintenance Action. It basically means that a couple is technically married but they are no longer responsible for each other. A divorce on the other hand is a judicial termination of marriage.
Why would you want a separate maintenance action instead of just getting a divorce?
There are a few reasons but the most common are:
- You just may not be ready for divorce yet as a concept
- You may need the court to award you a support action but you haven’t been a Georgia resident long enough to get a divorce
- Some religions do not allow for divorce but they don’t mention a separation
- Some types of insurance and benefit plans will be terminated by a divorce and you may not be ready for that
Is a divorce right for my situation?
There is no way to say if a divorce is the right choice without knowing the details of your case. If you are unsure you may want to discuss the issue with a Family Counselor. At Waggoner Hastings LLC we work with a wide range of Marriage and Family Counselors and can refer you to highly effective, professional counselors. We can help you begin thinking about the consequences of a divorce but ultimately only you can decide whether divorce is right for you.
How do I know when I’m ready for a divorce?
No one is ever completely ready, but you can prepare yourself for it. Before you move forward with a divorce make sure you have:
- A clear understanding of your legal rights
- A good grasp of your overall financial situation
- A solid hold on your emotions
- The future mental and physical needs of your child provided for
What is a no-fault divorce?
It just means that the court doesn’t need to hear your reasons for the divorce. It helps to avoid embarrassment if you would rather not talk about a sensitive subject. You just have to say that the marriage is irrevocably broken and that there is no chance of reconciliation.
If I don’t want a divorce can my spouse still get one?
Yes, the court will still grant one against your will.
How can I get an annulment?
First you need to have grounds for annulment which might include:
- The couple have not had sex since being married
- One of the parties misled the other party in a fraudulent way
- One of the parties is not old enough to give consent
How much does it cost to get a divorce?
The situations and issues involved in a divorce are never the same from case to case. So, it is nearly impossible to give an estimate as to how much a divorce will cost. At your first consultation, your attorney will look at the specifics of your case and will be able to more accurately discuss the cost with you.
Is there any advantage to being the plaintiff in a divorce?
Yes. If you are the plaintiff:
- You get to speak first and last in each part of the trial
- You have more control over the process and its pace
- There is an emotional advantage often held by the plaintiff
Is it better to take a divorce to trial or to settle?
Settlement is almost always the best option because it allows parties the most control over their lives. Litigation takes longer, is more stressful and should always be left as a last resort. Statistics have shown that 95 percent of cases end in a settlement so why not skip straight to the end?
Are there any alternatives to a litigated divorce?
Yes, you can pursue:
- An independent settlement
- A Collaboration
How long will it take for me to be divorced?
There is no way to say because each case is different.
If I had an affair will it negatively affect my divorce?
Well, first your spouse will have to prove the adultery. But if it is proven then yes, it may have a significant affect on the outcome of your divorce. For instance, if your spouse proves you were cheating then you will be prohibited from receiving alimony. It can even affect the distribution of your property.
Can I date before my divorce is finished?
It isn’t recommended. It may not seem fair to put your life on hold, but you can never tell how a judge will feel about it. It could cause them to punish you unnecessarily and it may also cause your spouse to be harder to work with if you want a settlement.
What are the grounds for a divorce in Georgia?
Georgia has thirteen grounds for divorce, some of which are adultery, desertion, cruel treatment, habitual intoxication and habitual drug addiction.
How long do you have to be a resident of Georgia before getting a divorce?
The party filing for a divorce must be a resident of Georgia for at least six months before filing for divorce.
How do I file for a divorce?
You have to file a document called a “Complaint” or a “Petition” with the appropriate jurisdictional Superior Court and then pay a filing fee. The Complaint includes information to establish the proper jurisdiction and venue.
Why did my spouse request so many things in the Complaint?
It is a common tactic because, they don’t know any details yet so they don’t want to ask for too little. It is like bargaining, you ask for more than you will actually settle for.
Must a husband and wife live apart when a divorce complaint is filed?
No, but they do have to be separated in a legal sense. So, you should sleep in a separate room and not have sex with your spouse, to show you don’t live as a married couple.
Is there a way to live apart without getting a divorce?
Yes, you can have a Separate Maintenance Agreement. It means you are technically married but you are not responsible for one another.
If my spouse makes all of the money, does that mean everything belongs to them?
No. Marital Property is any property acquired during the marriage by either party, except for that property received by gift from a third party or by inheritance. So you have just as much claim to the marital property as your spouse does.
What is alimony?
Alimony is a payment made from one spouse to another to cover their support. It can be permanent or temporary; it is based on one spouse’s need and the other’s ability to pay.
What happens between the time I file for divorce and the end of the divorce?
During this time issues of child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, debts and possession of real and personal property are handled by temporary orders. They are used to address your temporary needs and your children’s temporary needs.
What is decided during the final trial?
The judge will decide questions of child visitation and custody, and will present a final resolution for issues including the division of property, division of debts, alimony and child support. The judge’s decision will then be made into a binding Court Order. The wife can also reestablish her former name, if she desires.
Do all divorce cases go to trial?
Not at all; most divorce cases are resolved with a settlement. People generally prefer to control their own fate so very few opt to take it to trial and put their future in someone else’s hands.
Do I have to disclose all information concerning assets and debts?
Yes. There is really no way around it because if you don’t do so and it’s discovered, the final agreement can be set aside and you might be right back where you started.