Uncontested Divorce in Georgia

uncontested divorce in georgia

The easiest and quickest way to end your marriage is through an uncontested divorce in Georgia.

Finding common ground and cooperating with your spouse often means you don’t need to retain an attorney or face long, drawn-out court battles.

Instead, you can both more readily focus on moving forward with the next chapter of your lives.

Here’s what you need to know if an uncontested divorce is a possibility for you.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse agree to work together cooperatively in advance to reach agreement on all issues related to your divorce.

Doing so is the quickest, cheapest, and most stress-free way to end your marriage.

You do not need to have all issues figured out before you file your paperwork.  As long as these issues are resolved before a judge reviews your proposed settlement, you’ll have time to focus on amicable solutions that work best in the interests of both parties.

By structuring a suitable settlement as part of an uncontested divorce, you can begin to focus on the next chapter of your life sooner and with more positive energy.

Steps to an Uncontested Divorce in Georgia

Before you can consider an uncontested divorce in Georgia, you must make sure the state has jurisdiction by complying with residency requirements for divorce.  This means either you or your spouse must live in the state for six months prior to filing for divorce.

Gather Your Information

Even though your divorce is uncontested, you’ll still need to gather essential information to help structure a suitable settlement agreement.  You want to be ready to authoritatively negotiate child support, alimony, custody, parenting plan, asset and debt division, and other related issues.

The more thorough you are in advance, the smoother these discussions should go as you work through each one.

You’ll need to gather personal information, banking documents, income and expense information, child-related expenses, tax and real estate records, retirement account info, insurance policies, estate planning documents, and more.

It takes a fair amount of time, so start as soon as you can.

For a more in-depth look at what you might want to gather, take a look at our article The Ultimate Divorce Checklist: The Information You Need to Prepare for Divorce.

Complete the Paperwork

The forms you will need to submit to the court will vary by your circumstances.  One of the main differences you’ll need to consider is whether or not minor children are a part of your divorce action.

In general, here’s the forms you’ll need to complete, either at the beginning of your case, or as you move through the various steps:

  • Case Filing Information Form
  • Petition for Divorce – In some counties there are two petition forms: a Petition for Divorce Without Children and a Petition for Divorce with Minor Children.
  • Verification
  • Summons
  • Sheriff’s Entry of Service
  • Acknowledgment of Service and Consent to Jurisdiction
  • Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit
  • Disclosure Statement – This form states whether the parties have a settlement agreement.
  • Answer and Counterclaim
  • Rule Nisi (Notice of Hearing)
  • Final Judgment and Decree
  • Report of Divorce, Annulment or Dissolution of Marriage

To promote agreement between you, there should be an ongoing dialog.  Keeping lines of communication between spouses in an uncontested divorce is critical, especially when you’re working through paperwork.

File Your Paperwork with the Court

When your paperwork is ready, you will file it with the county clerk where your spouse lives.

If you file, you are known as the plaintiff.  Your spouse becomes the defendant.

Pay Your Filing Fees

When you file, you’ll also need to pay a filing fee.  This will vary by county and ranges from $200 to $220.  You’ll also need to pay a small fee to have your spouse served with divorce papers by the Sheriff’s department.  This is typically around $50.

If you can’t afford to pay the filing fees, you can request a fee waiver by filing an Affidavit of Indigence or Poverty Affidavit (sometimes referred to this as a Pauper’s Affidavit).  These requests are not automatically granted, and you’ll have to show proof to prove that you meet the qualifications for a waiver.

Serve the Complaint

You must officially notify your spouse of your intent to divorce them by serving them with court paperwork.

In Georgia, if you and your spouse are on good terms, you can bring the copies to him or her in person. Your spouse will need to fill out a form to acknowledge the receipt of the documents.  This document will be filed with the court.

If you’re not comfortable with this method, you can have a Sheriff’s deputy or a private process server deliver paperwork for you.

Complete and Exchange Financial Disclosures

Georgia courts want to make sure there is a fair and equitable split of assets and debts in a divorce.  As part of your discussions with your spouse, you will both complete and exchange financial affidavits.

This is a detailed summation of your marital finances and includes information on bank accounts, income, real property, homes, cars, business interests, retirement accounts, and so forth.

You’ll also list out debts, obligations, what you consider to be separate vs marital property, and any encumbrances that will have an impact on how financial issues should be resolved.

More Information – A Guide to Divorce Financial Planning

Complete a Settlement Agreement

At some point, you and your spouse will need to draft a settlement agreement that will be presented for the court to review.  This lays out the specific terms of your divorce, including property division, alimony, child support and visitation, and other related issues.

Some couples are able to do this early on.  Other couples wait until later in the process after an exchange of all information and a discussion of how to resolve differences has taken place.

The key with a settlement agreement is to think cooperatively instead of approaching it with a combative mindset.

Keep the larger goal in mind and be prepared to compromise to reach your goal of an uncontested divorce.

More Information – What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?

If You Have Children

If you and your spouse have minor children together, you’ll need to develop custody and parenting plan agreements, including visitation.  A judge will review this information and issue an Order Approving Parenting Plan.

Also, as part of the process, you’ll need to complete a Child Support Worksheet that will be used to calculate child support as dictated by Georgia law.

Georgia also requires parents to attend a mandatory seminar about children’s issues related to divorce before a divorce will be granted.

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take?

There is a minimum 31 day waiting period after service takes place.  After that time, if both parties have signed a Consent to Trial 31 Days After Service and Waiver of Right to Trial by Jury

There is no trial in an uncontested case, but there is a final hearing before the judge. This form can allow the divorce to be completed as early as 31 days after the Respondent is served or acknowledges service.

Often, the process may take 60 days or more depending on court backlogs, judge’s availability and other factors.

How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?

Filing fees and process server fees should run you less than $300.

Some people seek help in completing their forms by using an online document preparation service.  This can run anywhere from an additional $150 to $500 depending on which one is used.

Overall though, an uncontested divorce is far and away the least expensive way to get a divorce.

More Information: 101 Financial Pitfalls of Divorce

Do I Have to go to Court for an Uncontested Divorce?

Yes.  You’ll need to attend a final hearing in front of a judge.  Expect this to be brief, at which time the judge will review your paperwork, ask you a few questions, and if everything is in order, approve your divorce.

FAQs About Uncontested Divorce in Georgia

What are the grounds for divorce in Georgia?

You can get a divorce in Georgia by claiming no-fault or fault-based grounds.

No-fault grounds mean that no blame is affixed to either party.  You both simply acknowledge the marriage is irretrievably broken and that you want to end it.  This is what is typically used for an uncontested divorce.

Fault-based grounds are those that allege one spouse engaged in some form of unacceptable behavior.  Those grounds include:

  • adultery
  • willful and continued desertion by either of the spouses for one year
  • conviction of either spouse for an offense involving moral turpitude, resulting in imprisonment for a term of two years or longer
  • habitual intoxication
  • physical or mental cruelty
  • incurable mental illness
  • habitual drug addiction

Do I need a lawyer to get a divorce in Georgia?

Absolutely not.  In fact, many people choose an uncontested divorce to avoid costly legal fees that created added animosity and slow down the process.

There are many resources available to help you complete the divorce process on your own, especially when you agree to focus on a common goal.

However, if you run into problems or have concerns, you can always get professional advice to make sure your interests are protected.

Should I file for divorce using an online service in Georgia?

Think of it like doing your taxes. You can hire a CPA, do it yourself, or do it yourself with Turbo Tax. If you’re leaning towards the do it yourself route, using a service like Turbo Tax is a no-brainer. The same goes for divorce. Using an online divorce service can be a great way to save time and money without having to learn how to do all the paperwork yourself. There are a lot of online services to choose from. After extensive research, it’s clear that several online divorce companies don’t live up to their claims. In fact, using one of these services will only lead to more stress and frustration. So, what service should you choose? If you’re the type that wants to dig in and do your own research, then check out our full comparison and review of the 10 best online divorce services. If you’re more of the bottom-line type (like me), our top recommendation is 3 Step Divorce. Here’s why:

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Can I get divorced in Georgia even if I was married in another state?

As long as you meet Georgia’s six-month residency requirement, it does not matter where you were married.

Can I file for divorce in Georgia even if we’re still living together?

You and your spouse must be “legally separated” to file for divorce.  This doesn’t always mean you’re living apart.

You can be legally separated if you’re no longer engaging in marital relations and you consider yourself to be in a state of separation.

What if I want to stop my divorce?

For any reason, if you want to stop your divorce in Georgia, you can file a petition to dismiss your case, as long as it has not been finalized.

After the court has approved the divorce, it can’t be reversed.

If you want to be married to the same person, you’ll have to go through an official marriage ceremony again.

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