When to Contact an Atlanta Divorce Attorney
Nobody goes into a marriage expecting it to end someday. When you are facing a divorce, it’s a heartbreaking time of betrayal, anger and deep sadness. The worst part of it is when the time comes to dissolve the marriage and the spouses can’t agree on what they need to do and who gets what.
When this happens, it’s time to bring in an Atlanta divorce lawyer. However, you don’t just want to “find a divorce attorney” to work with. It’s vital that you find the right divorce attorney in Atlanta to represent your interests. Let’s take a look at the divorce laws in Georgia and what you need to do to find the right Atlanta divorce attorney to be an ally who will stand up for your rights.
Georgia Divorce Laws
Before you even start your search for an attorney, it’s essential to have a basic idea of the divorce laws in Atlanta. This will enable you to ask the right questions and get the right information from the attorneys you interview. During your divorce process, you’ll need to make vital decisions on everything from division of property, to child custody, finances and more.
Georgia has 13 different grounds for divorce. Twelve of these are “fault” grounds. These include:
At the Time of Marriage
- The couple was already closely related at the time of marriage.
- One spouse is mentally incapacitated.
- One spouse is impotent.
- You were forced, coerced or defrauded into getting married.
- A wife was pregnant by another and did not reveal this to the husband.
After the Marriage
- Willful desertion for at least one year.
- One spouse was sentenced to two or more years of prison for a serious crime.
- Habitual drunkenness or intoxication.
- Spousal abuse or cruelty.
- A spouse has a permanent mental illness that cannot be cured.
- A spouse has a drug addiction.
The 13th reason for divorce in Georgia is no-fault. This means that the marriage, for one reason or another, has become “irretrievably broken,” one or both spouses no longer want to live together, and there’s no hope for fixing the marriage. No-fault divorces are the most common form of divorce in the state.
At least one spouse must also be a resident of Georgia in order to secure a divorce. This spouse must be the one who files for the divorce. The residency requirement is at least six months before you may file.. While there is no waiting period in Georgia from the time of seperateion before you can file for divorce, there has to be at least 31 days from the time the divorce action is served on the other party, to when the Judge can actually finalize the divorce.
Finding the Right Atlanta Divorce Attorney
Finding the right Georgia divorce attorney to represent you in the dissolution of your marriage is vital to making sure that your rights are protected and you get a fair settlement all around. Nobody likes to think that their split will become acrimonious, but for far too many couples, that’s exactly what happens. For years you acted as partners, but when the time comes to end that partnership, it can result in some of the bitterest fights there are.
Because of this, even if you are planning to negotiate the terms of your divorce in good faith, it’s important to have someone by your side who has only your best interests in mind. The right attorney will be an ally in your separation who will always provide legal support to you and work hard to keep things fair for you. There are a number of questions to ask yourself before hiring a divorce lawyer in Atlanta. Let’s break them down.
Should You Hire an Aggressive Attorney?
Many people immediately look for an attorney who has a fighting attitude and who is ready to stand up and go to war for them. That’s not always the right approach in a divorce. The best outcome in a divorce settlement is to resolve your differences without ending up fighting it out in court. You want an attorney who has experience in family law and divorce cases, with a specific skill set in handling these sorts of negotiations.
Stop to think: certainly, you’re angry, but will attacking your former spouse’s character and humiliating them really net the outcome you want? Especially if you have children, you’re still likely to have to work together to raise them. It’s best to salvage some level of respect out of the relationship. In addition, a court trial is very expensive, time-consuming and traumatic, especially for the kids. It’s rarely the best outcome for anyone.
In the end, you want an attorney who is willing to fight hard for you, but who is also willing to take gentler steps and exhaust possibilities of negotiation and mediation before going to court.
When taking gentler steps don’t work, Attorney Joy Edwards will take off the gloves and go to battle for you!
Should the Same Attorney Represent Both Parties?
This one is simple. No, the same attorney should never represent both parties. In fact, doing so is against the ethics of an attorney, who cannot represent two different parties with conflicting interests. The same attorney would not be able to give both you and your former spouse or partner the best advice at the same time.
Just because you want to have a separate attorney, it doesn’t mean you’re looking for a fight. It’s quite simply the ethical thing to do, and it’s important that both of you have people in your corner who are clear-headed and able to represent both of your best interests respectively.
Research and Interview Attorneys
When you’re looking for a divorce attorney, it’s also important not to just call the first ad you see on television. Don’t be ashamed to get consultations or have discussions with three or more attorneys before you find the right one for you. This is someone with whom you’re forming one of the most important partnerships of your life, and you need to get it right.
Start off by calling the attorney’s office. Ask them about their history, specialization and track record with family law matters. Ask for examples of the kinds of clients they represent. Inquire about their rates — often, divorce lawyers require an advance retainer fee as well as charging by the hour for their services, so it’s important to know what you’re going to owe going in. If they’re out of your price range, it would be a waste of your time and theirs to meet.
Look for online reviews and ratings of the attorney. Word-of-mouth is also a great option, if you know someone who has used their services. Check them out with the state bar or any local legal associations.
Consider All the Options
If you talk to an attorney who is just eager to dive in and start fighting, heading straight for court, it may not be the right one for you. Consider all your options before you start fighting. Can you and your spouse negotiate an agreement? If so, your attorney will be there to advise you and protect your rights so you don’t end up with the raw end of the deal.
Even if the divorce negotiations do hit a wall, there are options before court. You can try mediation. This is often a fast and less expensive way to get a divorce that yields good results. Mediation in Georgia is often emphasized by the court in order to avoid litigation. Litigation involving judges and courtrooms should often be the last resort.
Knowing where you want to fall on this scale will help when you interview attorneys later. You’ll want an attorney who has a similar outlook to you. Don’t go with a trial lawyer if you’re intent on negotiation, and don’t go with someone who’s never seen a courtroom if you think or know your case may go to trial.
Watch Out for Red Flags
There are a number of red flags to keep an eye out for during your interview process. Watch out for attorneys who make promises or guarantees before they even hear your case. That’s a bad sign. If they are eager to divulge confidential information based on other clients, they’ll probably also be willing to divulge yours. Watch out for attorneys who make disparaging or disrespectful comments about other lawyers or about your spouse. You want someone who is going to be respectful.
Finally, watch out for someone who is constantly putting you on hold or asking you to wait while they attend to other business or take other calls. You want an attorney who is going to focus on you while they are talking to you. In the end, you want someone who is going to behave in a respectful, compassionate, ethical and professional manner.