Marriage is one of our society's most celebrated and longstanding institutions. A practical reality however is that people are imperfect and therefore divorce is an expedient and necessary evil. A divorce is a civil court matter; at its core a divorce is a declaration by the court that one's marriage contract has shuttered. Put simply, it is a legal action between married people to terminate their marriage relationship. A divorce becomes effective on the day the divorce decree is granted by the judge and a final order is filed with the court.
People let's face it—the divorce process can be emotionally and financially draining. It is a vulnerable time for many adults, and for the ill-prepared the complexities and nuances of the process may prove overwhelming. While grappling with the emotional fallout of your separation, decisions regarding the division of property, child custody, personal finances, and visitation plans must also be contemplated. This can all prove to be time consuming, cumbersome and expensive in more ways than one.
In the state of Georgia there a number of legal grounds for divorce. They include:
- Habitual drug addiction
- Incurable mental illness
- Cruel treatment
- Habitual intoxication
- Adultery during the marriage
- The conviction of a crime of moral turpitude that results in a prison sentence of two years or longer
- Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband at the time of marriage (and unknown to the husband)
- Force, menace, duress or fraud in obtaining the marriage
- Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage
- Intermarriage by people within the prohibited degrees of kinship
- Impotency before marriage
- The marriage is irretrievably broken
Of the aforementioned grounds, only a declaration by the parties that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” requires no proof of bad conduct or fault.
The cost of litigating a contested divorce can also be expensive and time consuming. The amount of time required to finalize a divorce depends—however, time and expense can be mitigated if:
The parties have reached a complete agreement and
BOTH parties are fully cooperating in the court process
In such cases, a divorce MAY be resolved in as few as 31 (thirty-one) days following the filing of the requisite court documents. However, if one party is non-responsive or refuses to participate in the proceedings it can take up to 60 (sixty) days or more in these cases. Also, where the parties are fighting over property or children a divorce can take months or years to finalize as all child support, custody and property division issues must be settled via agreement or trial before a divorce is granted.
It's important to note that the exorbitant cost of divorce may be mitigated and, in some cases, defrayed if the parties are able to generally agree on certain terms. In curbing costs, in the short term, the most inexpensive course of action is to simply handle your own divorce. But where there are children and property involved this is ill-advised. A better option may be to enlist the help of a mediator or arbitrator to help keep stress and costs to a minimum. Many Georgia counties require mediation prior to having a contested hearing in court. Also, under Georgia Superior Court Rules both parties in a divorce are required to attend a divorcing parent seminar.
Although a mediator/arbitrator may be reasonable alternative to a self-help option you may still need an attorney if:
- Your case is contested, or an attorney represents your spouse
- Your spouse has been violent towards you
- You are unable to locate your spouse to have them served with the complaint and summons
- You and your spouse own a house, pension, retirement account, property or income to be divided
- You think you may have difficulty getting financial information from your spouse
Let the Shakhan & Wilkerson Family Law attorneys make this process easier and less stressful for you. Our average uncontested divorce without children starts at $1,750 and $2,750 with children. Call us today at (833) 423-2645.