Grounds for Divorce
While Georgia has retained twelve fault grounds for divorce, the vast majority of divorces in the state are filed on the no-fault grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is by far the easiest grounds to prove as it only requires that one spouse believes the marriage is damaged beyond repair.
State Residency Requirement
The spouse that files for divorce is the Petitioner and the other spouse is the Respondent. At least one spouse must live in Georgia for at least six months before filing for divorce. It doesn't matter whether it is the Petitioner or the Respondent (or both) that meets the six-month in-state residency requirement.
Where to File
Divorces in Georgia are filed in the Superior Court in the county where the Respondent lives. If the Respondent doesn't live in Georgia, file in the county where the Petitioner lives. If both spouses agree on any other county in Georgia, DivorceWriter will provide you with a Motion to Transfer Venue. When both spouses sign this Motion, the Court almost always transfers the case to the county agreed upon by the spouses.
Serving Your Spouse
Compared to other states, serving your spouse with divorce papers is relatively easy in Georgia when the divorce is uncontested and your spouse is cooperative. The Petitioner either mails or hand-delivers a copy of the divorce papers to the Respondent. Then, Respondent files an Acknowledgment of Service, Consent to Jurisdiction and Venue, and Consent to Present Case form. However, if your spouse is not cooperative, he or she will need to be served by more formal means such as by Sheriff, private process server or publication.
Finalizing Your Divorce
Whether you will need a hearing to finalize your divorce depends on the judge assigned to your case. Some judges require a hearing while others instead require the Petitioner to file a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and Supporting Affidavit, which asks the Court to finalize the divorce without a hearing based on the information contained in the documents that have already been filed.
In Georgia, there is a 30-day waiting period from the date the divorce was filed before it can be finalized.
Steps to Divorce
The basic steps to getting an uncontested divorce in Georgia are:
- Petitioner files for divorce at the Superior Court Clerk's office.
- Petitioner serves Respondent with divorce papers and Respondent files a document acknowledging service.
- The divorce is finalized by Petitioner attending a brief court hearing or without a hearing upon Petitioner's motion.
Using DivorceWriter you fill out all of your divorce forms online. The following documents are required to file for divorce in Georgia AND are included with your DivorceWriter purchase:
- Notice of Appearance
- Petition for Divorce
- Domestic Relations Filing Information Form
- Acknowledgment of Service, Consent to Jurisdiction and Venue, and Consent to Present Case
- Settlement Agreement
- Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (not filed if judge requires a divorce hearing)
- Affidavit in Support of Motion for Judgment on Pleadings (not filed if judge requires a divorce hearing)
- Final Judgment and Decree
- Notice of Hearing
- Domestic Relations Case Final Disposition Form
- Report of Divorce, Annulment, or Dissolution of Marriage
If you and your spouse have minor children together, you will also file the following:
- Financial Affidavit of Husband
- Financial Affidavit of Wife
- Parenting Plan
- Child Support Worksheet
- Child Support Order Addendum
The following are some important terms concerning child support in Georgia:
- "Basic child support obligation" is the amount of support displayed on the child support obligation table which corresponds to the combined adjusted income of the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent and the number of children for whom child support is being determined.
- "Adjusted child support obligation" is the basic child support obligation adjusted by health insurance and work related child care costs.
- "Adjusted income" is the determination of a parent's monthly income, calculated by deducting from that parent's monthly gross income one-half of the amount of any applicable self-employment taxes being paid by the parent, any preexisting order for current child support which is being paid by the parent, and any child support order for other qualified children, if allowed by the court.
Georgia has the following types of custody:
- Physical custody means the physical care and supervision of a child.
- Legal custody refers to rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including the child's education, health care, extracurricular activities, and religious training.
- Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including the child's education, health care, extracurricular activities, and religious training.
- Joint physical custody means that physical custody is shared by the parents in such a way as to assure the child of substantially equal time and contact with both parents.
- Joint custody can refer to joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both joint legal custody and joint physical custody.
- Sole custody means one person, usually one of the parents, has been awarded permanent custody of a child. Generally, when one parent has sole custody that parent has the rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including the child's education, health care, extracurricular activities, and religious training, and the noncustodial parent will have visitation or parenting time.
Each Superior Court in Georgia charges a one-time fee to file for divorce. The fees vary depending on the county, but are generally between $150-$200, which is on the lower end of divorce filing fees nationwide. If you are having financial difficulties and are unable to pay the filing fee, you may file a Pauper's Affidavit asking the Court to waive the fee in your case.