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Divorcing a spouse in Georgia doesn’t need to be as overwhelming or complicated as you might expect. While getting a divorce often presents certain challenges, navigating these challenges and pursuing a fair outcome is easier when you have skilled legal assistance.

Atlanta, Georgia divorce attorney Traci A. Weiss, of Weiss Family Law, offers compassionate but results-driven services to her clients. Whether yours is a simple, uncontested divorce, a complex/high asset divorce case involving disputes over such issues as child custody or distribution of assets involving interests in businesses or multiple properties, or a case in which same-sex or LGBTQIA+ considerations must be accounted for, Traci A. Weiss is prepared to guide you through your divorce with confidence.

There are two (2) main types of divorces which you may file in court –contested and uncontested. In uncontested divorces, both parties agree to the terms of divorce, such as child custody, child support, alimony/spousal support, the division of assets, and other such issues before anything is filed with the court. In contested divorces, the parties do not agree on such major issues before the court case begins. While they may still negotiate during the case, they use the court process and ultimately prepare to present their evidence to the court so a judge can decide any major issues not resolved by agreement.

Under Georgia law, there are thirteen (13) main reasons/grounds for which a person may seek divorce from their spouse. Twelve (12) of those reasons allege that one spouse is at fault because of something they did, and the last one is deemed “no fault,” meaning neither spouse is claiming the other one did anything wrong – the spouse is simply declaring the marriage broken beyond repair and wants the marriage to end.  While people used to have to prove fault grounds in order to be granted a divorce, once the no fault ground was added, most divorces in Georgia are granted on that basis.

The 13 legal Grounds for Divorce in Georgia are:

  1. Adultery
  2. Desertion
  3. Cruel treatment or violence
  4. Addiction to drugs
  5. Habitual intoxication
  6. Incurable mental illness
  7. Convicted of a crime of moral turpitude
  8. Pregnant by another man at the time of marriage
  9. Mental incapacity
  10. Impotence at the time of marriage
  11. Intermarriage between persons prohibited by law (incest)
  12. Pressured, forced or tricked into marriage
  13. An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (no-fault divorce)

A contested divorce in Georgia is a type of divorce where the parties involved begin the litigation process without having an agreement on all issues at the time of filing.  They may not have begun negotiating, or they are unable to reach an agreement on one or more aspects of their divorce, such as child custody, child support, alimony/spousal support and property division. In a contested divorce, the parties must go through a legal process to resolve their disputes, which can include negotiation, mediation, arbitration or a trial.

The process of a contested divorce in Georgia starts with the filing of a complaint for divorce by one of the parties. Once a copy of that court-filed complaint is served on the other party (either by a sheriff’s deputy, a special process server, or by the other party signing an Acknowledgment of Service), the other party then has the opportunity to respond to the complaint, typically by filing an answer and/or a counterclaim. Then they go through a period called discovery, where they request and share the information needed to be able to settle the case or get it ready for trial. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case will proceed to a trial, where a judge will make a final decision on the disputed issues.

In a contested divorce, it is important for each party to have their own attorney to represent their interests and to ensure that their rights are protected throughout the process. Attorneys can also help the parties negotiate a settlement, which can save time, money, and stress.

The outcome of a contested divorce in Georgia will depend on the specific circumstances of each case. However, a judge will consider factors such as the length of the marriage, the financial situation of each party, and the best interests of any children involved when making a final decision on the disputed issues.

An uncontested divorce in Georgia is a type of divorce where both parties agree on resolution of all of the terms of their divorce before anyone files a complaint for divorce with the court. In an uncontested divorce, the parties do not have to go through a trial or a lengthy legal process to resolve their disputes.

Once the agreement is signed, the process of an uncontested divorce in Georgia starts with the filing of a petition for divorce by one of the parties at the same time as the signed settlement agreement is filed. This petition should indicate the parties agree on the terms of the divorce.

Once the petition is filed, the Petitioner (the party who filed the complaint) may have to attend an uncontested hearing, during which a judge will ask them to confirm that they agree on all of the terms of their divorce. In some cases, the judge may instead allow a motion to be filed with an affidavit by the Petitioner rather than requiring a final hearing. If the judge is satisfied that the parties have reached a valid agreement, the judge will grant the divorce and enter a Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce, which is a binding court order that ends the marriage, and makes the agreement a part of the final order.

Georgia attorneys are not allowed to represent both parties to a divorce, so it is best if each party hires, or at least consults with, their own attorney before signing any agreement.  A Georgia divorce lawyer can help the parties ensure that their agreement is fair, equitable, and in compliance with Georgia law. An uncontested divorce can be completed relatively quickly and inexpensively compared to a contested divorce, and is generally considered less stressful and less adversarial for the parties involved.

The Amicable Divorce Network process is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process designed for couples who are seeking a divorce but wish to avoid the traditional, adversarial divorce process. The Amicable Divorce Network process is designed to help couples reach a mutually agreed upon settlement of their divorce, with the goal of minimizing the stress, cost, and time involved in a traditional divorce.

The Amicable Divorce Network process is typically a more informal and less adversarial process compared to a traditional divorce, and is designed to help the couple reach a settlement that is in the best interests of both parties, as well as any children involved. Each party hires an attorney who is a member of this network of vetted, highly experienced, resolution-minded professionals.  The process is usually faster and less expensive than a traditional divorce, and can help reduce the emotional stress involved in a divorce. Discuss this option with an Atlanta divorce attorney who is a member of the Amicable Divorce Network to learn more about whether it’s right for you.

Divorces involving disputes over child custody can be emotionally-fraught. In these circumstances, it’s critical to have representation from a Georgia child custody lawyer who can fight for your rights as a parent with a focus on what is in the best interest of the child.

In Georgia, the following types of legal and physical child custody may be granted:

  • Sole Legal Custody: One parent has the right to make major decisions regarding the child’s welfare.
  • Joint Legal Custody: Both parents share the right to access medical and education records of the child and the right to participate in major decisions regarding the child’s welfare.  A parent is typically named as the tie-breaker in the event the parents don’t agree on a major issue after good faith discussions.  The main issues where a tie-breaker is appointed are education, non-emergency medical care, activities and religious upbringing. Joint legal custody is awarded in the vast majority of cases.
  • Sole Physical Custody: One parent has the right to have the child reside with them.
  • Primary Physical Custody:  The child lives more than half the time with one parent, and the other parent has a schedule for their parenting time with the child.
  • Joint Physical Custody: Both parents have the right to have the child reside with them for equal specified periods of time.

The court will consider the best interests of the child when determining which type of custody arrangement to grant. It’s uncommon for one parent to be granted sole physical and sole legal custody. This is because courts usually determine it’s in the best interests of a child for both of their parents to be involved in their life.

However, there are exceptions. For example, if one parent is abusive, the court may decide they should not have any involvement with their child.

When two parents get a divorce Georgia, the court might order one to pay child support to the other. Child support in Georgia is financial support provided by a parent to cover the general expenses of raising a child. The purpose of child support is to ensure that a child has access to necessary resources including food, clothing and shelter, regardless of the parents’ marital status or living arrangements.

In Georgia, child support is calculated based on the Georgia Child Support Guidelines, which take into account the incomes of both parents and the number of children being supported. The guidelines are designed to ensure that the amount of support is fair and consistent across cases.  Certain adjustments and deviations may be made to increase or decrease the presumptive child support amount based on certain expenses related to the child, including medical/dental/vision insurance premiums, uncovered medical expenses, school and child care costs, and expenses related to the child’s activities, taking into consideration which parent is paying what percentage of those expenses.

Either parent can request child support, and the court will make a determination based on the evidence presented.  If a parent fails to pay child support as ordered, the court may hold the non-paying parent in contempt, which can result in fines or even jail time.  In certain cases, the court may also enforce payment through an income deduction order/wage garnishment, or if child support is being collected through the department of human resources, possibly through tax refund intercept, or other means.

Whether you expect the court will order you to pay child support or you believe the court will order your child’s other parent to pay child support, it’s important to have qualified legal representation. Although the court’s main goal is to ensure a child’s best interests are provided for, a Georgia divorce and child support attorney may help you present your best case to the court.

Distribution of assets and debts is the process by which a court divides the property and debts of a married couple during a divorce. In Georgia, the court uses the principle of equitable distribution, which means that the court will distribute the assets and debts in a manner that is fair and just, taking into account relevant factors such as the length of the marriage, the income and earning potential of each spouse, and the needs of each spouse.

Marital property is property that is acquired during the marriage and is subject to distribution during a divorce. This can include real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, cars, and other assets. Marital debts, such as credit card debts, loans, and mortgages, are also subject to distribution during a divorce.

Separate property is property that is owned by one spouse before the marriage or acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage, and kept separate so as not to be treated as a gift to the marriage. Separate property is not subject to division during a divorce, and remains the property of the individual who owns it. However, any increase in value of separate property during the marriage may be subject to distribution if the increase is a result of the contributions of both spouses.  The party claiming separate property has the burden of proving that it qualifies as separate, and if they do not meet that burden, it will be treated as marital property subject to being divided as part of the divorce.

In Georgia, the court will consider all relevant factors in dividing the marital property and debts in a manner that is fair and equitable, taking into account the contributions of each spouse to the marriage and the future financial needs of each spouse.  While many courts start with the intention of dividing the marital assets and debts in a relatively equal manner (so each party ends up with a total value that is about the same as the other party), certain factors may cause a judge to give a party more or less than half of that combined value such as bad conduct of a party that led to the breakup of the marriage.

A divorce attorney in Georgia can play a crucial role in navigating a complex or high net worth divorce. A complex or high net worth divorce often involves significant assets, multiple income streams, and/or a large number of debts and liabilities. A knowledgeable and experienced divorce attorney can help ensure that all assets, debts, and liabilities are properly valued and divided in a manner that is fair and equitable.

In a high net worth divorce, a divorce attorney may help you protect your assets and secure your financial future. They can work with financial experts, such as accountants and valuation specialists, to accurately value assets, including real estate, stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, and businesses. They can also help you negotiate a settlement that takes into account your financial needs, goals, and future plans.

In Georgia, same-sex and LGBTQIA+ considerations can influence a divorce in several ways. While same-sex marriage has been legal in the United States since 2015, some unique legal issues can arise in a same-sex divorce that do not arise in a heterosexual divorce.

One of the main issues that can arise in a same-sex divorce is the recognition of the marriage itself. Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage, some same-sex couples may have entered into domestic partnerships or civil unions in states that recognized these relationships. In Georgia, the state must recognize a same-sex marriage in order for a court to grant a divorce.

Child custody and support can also be impacted by same-sex and LGBTQIA+ considerations in a divorce. In Georgia, the court will consider the best interests of the child when determining custody and support arrangements. However, if one parent is not the biological parent of the child, the court may need to consider additional factors, such as the level of involvement of each parent in the child’s life and the financial needs of the child.

Those are just two examples. The main point to understand is that hiring a Georgia divorce attorney who understands how same-sex and LGBTQIA+ considerations may impact a divorce is wise if you need assistance from a professional who appreciates the unique qualities of your divorce.

No, common law marriage does not exist in Georgia. In Georgia, a marriage must be entered into by obtaining a marriage license from the county probate court and having a ceremony performed by a person authorized by law to perform marriages. There is no provision for common law marriages in Georgia. This means that if a couple has not obtained a marriage license and had a ceremony, they are not considered married under Georgia law, even if they have lived together for a long period of time and consider themselves to be married.

Divorce attorney Traci A. Weiss of Weiss Family Law understands that every divorce is unique. She leverages her decades of experience to provide each client with services tailored to their needs. To learn more about what our firm can do for you, contact us online or call us at 770-727-0533.

some testimonials

She is a great advocate to any client...

“She is a great advocate to any client and she works hard for every client.”

Her compassion for her clients combined with her attention...

“Her compassion for her clients combined with her attention to detail in preparing pleadings, preparing her clients, and working with her clients to come up with viable solutions to issues make her a wonderful advocate for anyone individual in need for representation.”

K.E. (2018)
She is skilled at every aspect of litigation...

“She is skilled at every aspect of litigation, from negotiating a favorable settlement to presenting a compelling case at trial.”

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“She is the consummate professional:  always prepared, polite and ready to outwit her opponent.”

M.N-A. (2012)
She was helpful, professional and...

“She was helpful, professional and on point with everything.”

K.B. (2017)
No one ever wants to be in a divorce situation much less...

“No one ever wants to be in a divorce situation much less with innocent children involved but I am so thankful that my girls had Traci to speak for them.”

T.W. (2020)