Georgia Divorce Lawyers
Divorce is difficult. There is no denying that. It has the potential to be very financially and emotionally draining. But it can be made easier with the help of the right Georgia divorce lawyers by your side. What might be a costly and messy process could actually be smooth and efficient.
Let our family handle your family’s needs. Call the Georgia family lawyers at Hall & Navarro today to get started.
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There are 7 mistakes you should avoid making during a divorce.
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Tips on Preparing for a Divorce
First, your attorney will need to know about your finances, some personal information, and things like insurance. Be sure while you’re collecting all of this sensitive information that you protect your privacy, especially if you and your spouse have access to the same computer and files. Passwords to certain accounts may need to be changed as well.
Next, you should consider having your own bank account that is not shared with your spouse. You can deposit your money into this bank account so that you are prepared to support yourself financially without the help of your spouse. When you do this, do NOT transfer any of your spouse’s funds into your personal account.
Also, having a journal at this time can be a good idea. It can turn into evidence when you need it to be. It also is helpful to note what is happening throughout your divorce for your own record.
Finally, make sure you have researched Georgia divorce lawyers. Having an experienced attorney there to help you navigate through what may be a difficult time will give you peace of mind.
Choosing a Divorce Attorney in Georgia
First, look up the attorney on Google and see what kind of reviews they get and what kind of past experiences other clients may have had. A lot of times people don’t want to ask their friends and family about who they used for their divorce but that’s really the best opinion that you’re going to get is someone who’s actually been through the divorce process in Georgia and has used an attorney. How they had that experience and whether the attorney was a good fit or not from person to person can vary.
Ultimately though, you won’t know what kind of connection you have with an attorney and their team of staff until you meet with them, whether that’s in-person, virtually, or over the phone. Meeting with them to see if there is a feeling of trust is crucial.
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Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce
If you are able to work out an uncontested divorce with your spouse, it will save you both time and money. In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree up front on a clear outline for how things will be settled. This includes agreements on the divorce itself, child custody, child support, division of property or assets, division of debts, and alimony. Since all these factors are decided between the spouses outside of court, an uncontested divorce is much less expensive.
Although uncontested divorces do not require an attorney, it is still beneficial to have a lawyer involved to ensure all the details are addressed properly in the divorce agreement. An experienced divorce attorney can also offer helpful suggestions for solutions if any issues arise.
If there is any disagreement that cannot be settled between the two spouses regarding the divorce itself, child custody, child support, division of property, division of debt, and/or alimony, then a contested divorce will ensue. Disagreements could be occurring due to high emotions, adverse behavior by your spouse, financial issues, and/or other issues.
Contested divorces start with one party filing a complaint for divorce that the other party must respond to. Next, each party will gather evidence through discovery. A temporary hearing will follow, and mediation or settlement can be attempted. Finally, if a settlement is not possible, there will be a final trial or hearing where the parties will go before a judge. The judge will make a final decision based upon the evidence and circumstances.
The grounds for divorce in Georgia
The other day I had a call from a client who was in the middle of a divorce and he was asking me what the grounds for divorce in Georgia are. There are basically 13 grounds for divorce. They range from adultery, to habitual intoxication, to abuse, to fraud. The most common ground for divorce in Georgia is irreconcilable differences, which simply means that people are not getting along. Most folks end up filing the divorce on those particular grounds.
Can we share the same home during a pending a divorce?
We’ve had clients ask if both they can share their marital residence with their spouse during their pending divorce in Georgia. In fact, you can, and it is more and more common just from an economic standpoint that folks going through a divorce remain under the same roof until everything is finalized. The key to the situation is you cannot act as husband and wife while you’re living in the home together, specifically you cannot consummate the marriage. If you do that and your divorce complaint has been filed, it is subject to being dismissed. You can live under the same roof, but you cannot cohabitate, and you cannot hold yourself out as husband and wife.
Divorcing Someone Who Doesn’t Live in Georgia
If your spouse lives in another state, and has for several months you must file for divorce in the state where your spouse lives. When you sue someone for divorce, you have to sue them where they live as long as you have a specific address in order to serve them. If this is the case, we would not be able to help him with the divorce, and you would have to hire an attorney in the state that your spouse moved to.
However, if your spouse living in another state has served you with divorce papers here in Southeast Georgia, we can help.
How long does a divorce take in Georgia?
In the state of Georgia, the waiting period for a divorce is relatively short compared to many other states in the United States. There is a mandatory waiting period of 31 days from the date the complaint is filed and served before a divorce can be finalized. This waiting period is one of the shortest among all states, granting individuals the opportunity for a relatively swift resolution to their marital dissolution.
However, to expedite the divorce process in Georgia, it is essential to have all the necessary agreements and arrangements in place before filing the complaint. These include the distribution of assets, a separation agreement, a custody arrangement, and a parenting plan if applicable. If all these aspects are settled and agreed upon, couples can significantly reduce the time it takes to finalize their divorce.
Can a divorce mediation save me money?
Sometimes, when we ask our clients to attend a mediation and their first question is whether that is going to save them money in their divorce case. In Georgia, the answer is “yes.” Attending a mediation, if it is successful, will save you money because, especially in our local court system, there is a lot of backlog. You could wait three to six months to have a trial date scheduled, whereas we usually could get a mediation day within about 30 days from the day that we request it.
The good news is that, with mediation, you can work around your own schedule. You are not at the whim of the court system and their time constraints.
Oftentimes, when we attend mediation and it ends successfully, even if that takes six to eight hours of your time, it is going to be a lot cheaper than going forward with the trial process and having the attorney fees built up over the course of several months.
After a mediation is successfully completed, we can alert the court that you’ve reached an agreement in your divorce case. Then, in Georgia, you are allowed to proceed with gathering the final divorce decree. This means that your case has ended, you’re officially divorced, and you don’t have to wait any longer or spend any more money.
Overall, mediation is a very cost efficient and effective way to push forward your case.
What to bring to a divorce consultation
Clients often call about what to bring to the first consultation for divorce when they come and meet with us for the first time. The documents that you need to bring to the consultation are mainly financial documents, pay stubs, tax returns, a month’s worth of bank records, and a listing of your major assets. If you have children, you also need to consider what a parenting plan or a custody arrangement might look like.
Personal Belongings During the Divorce Process
In Georgia, your personal property, including pictures, clothes, really any items in your home, may still be considered marital property. It’s very important that you take the time to itemize all of your personal belongings, who bought those items, and whether you purchased those prior to your marriage. All of those things are important to know as we’re figuring out what should happen with those personal belongings.
Ultimately, the court is going to take your list of personal belongings and your spouse’s list of personal belongings and look to see which ones are easy fixes. You keep your clothes. Your spouse keeps their clothes. Those are the easy ones.
The not-so-easy ones may be if you have boats, trailers, jet skis, etc. The court will look at what equity you have in those pieces of personal property. Items that are paid for may be of value to the marital estate. If so, the judge will divide those equitably between the parties at any final trial.
You can also reach an agreement to split certain pieces of personal property, which is encouraged. During your case, we like to narrow down your personal items to what you may be okay with the other party keeping or what you want to keep in your possession. In Georgia, if you have an agreement as to who keeps the jet ski and who keeps the RV, the court is going to sign off on that so long as it seems to be fair.
If you’re not able to reach an agreement on certain items of property, the court considers that like any other asset and is going to divide that fairly and equitably under Georgia law.