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.
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!
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.
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.