If you’re contemplating ending your marriage, you may wonder: How long does a divorce take in Georgia?
In Georgia, a divorce can be finalized as soon as 31 days due to the mandatory 30-day waiting period, which is one of the shortest in the United States. However, in reality, the process usually takes longer, typically ranging from 6 months to a year for most couples. The duration may vary depending on the complexity and level of conflict in the divorce.
At Petrelli Previtera, LLC, we are committed to expediting the divorce process while striving for the best possible outcome. Our dedicated Georgia divorce attorneys specialize in bringing clarity out of chaos. If you want to learn more about the average timeline for a divorce in Georgia and the factors that can affect and prolong the process, we are here to help.
One of the most common questions people have when divorcing is how long it will take.
While there is no definitive answer to this question, the timeframe for a divorce in Georgia can vary significantly. Typically, an uncontested divorce can be finalized within 45 days to twelve months, whereas a heavily disputed divorce may take up to three years. The duration of a divorce in Georgia depends on multiple factors, including the complexity of the case and the level of cooperation between the parties involved. Here is a concise summary based on various sources:
- Uncontested Divorces: When both spouses agree on all terms of the divorce, the process can be relatively quick. After the mandatory 31-day waiting period following the filing of the divorce, an uncontested divorce is typically finalized within 30 to 60 days. Another source mentions that most no-fault divorces in Georgia take about 45 to 60 days, with the mandatory 30-day waiting period after filing the complaint being emphasized.
- Contested Divorces: In cases where there is disagreement on key issues, the process takes longer. One source suggests that a contested divorce in Georgia may take six months to a year or even longer to resolve. Highly contested divorces can potentially extend up to three years.
What is the Standard Timeline for a Divorce in Georgia?
An Average Georgia Divorce Process Timeline
- Pre-filing Considerations: Before initiating the divorce process in Georgia, it is important to reflect on personal circumstances and make necessary legal preparations. This phase involves making the decision to pursue a divorce and seeking consultation with a lawyer to prepare the required documentation.
- Filing a Complaint for Divorce: The formal commencement of the divorce process occurs when one spouse files a Complaint for Divorce in the county of their residence. This document outlines the grounds for divorce and may include initial requests for relief, such as child custody or alimony.
- Serving the Complaint: Following the filing, the Complaint must be legally served to the other spouse, typically through personal delivery, by a sheriff, or by a process server. The method of service may vary depending on the circumstances.
- Responding to the Complaint: The served spouse has 30 days to respond to the Complaint. This response involves either agreeing with or contesting the allegations and terms presented in the initial filing.
- Discovery Phase: Both parties engage in the exchange of financial and other pertinent documents. This phase allows each party to gather essential information for negotiating settlements or preparing for trial. The duration of this phase can vary, often spanning several weeks or months.
- Negotiation and Mediation: Encouraged by the court, spouses are advised to engage in negotiations to reach settlements concerning matters such as property division and child custody. Mediation is often employed as a tool to facilitate these discussions.
- Temporary Orders: In certain situations, either party may request temporary orders from the court to address matters like child support or spousal support during the divorce process.
- Final Hearing or Trial: If the parties fail to reach an agreement, the case proceeds to trial where a judge makes final decisions. The duration of this phase can significantly vary depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule.
- Issuance of Final Divorce Decree: Following the final hearing, the court will issue a Final Divorce Decree, officially terminating the marriage and outlining the terms of the divorce, including asset division, custody arrangements, and any support obligations.
- Post-Decree Actions: After the divorce is finalized, there may be additional steps required to enforce or modify the divorce decree, particularly concerning child custody and support.
The timeline for a divorce in Georgia, as in other states, can vary considerably based on factors such as the complexity of the case, the level of agreement or disagreement between the spouses, and the specific procedures of the local court. Generally, an uncontested divorce can be expedited, often concluding within a few months, while contested divorces can be more time-consuming, sometimes spanning over a year.
When Does the 30-Day Clock Start Ticking?
The 30-day waiting period in Georgia’s divorce process begins when the divorce complaint is officially served to the other spouse. This is a critical distinction; it’s not from the date the complaint is filed with the court, but from the date the other party receives the legal documents.
Service of the divorce complaint can be done in various ways, such as by a sheriff’s deputy, a private process server, or through acknowledged receipt by the defendant if they are cooperative. Once the defendant has been served, the clock starts ticking on the 30-day period. During this time, the defendant has the opportunity to file an answer or response to the divorce complaint, expressing agreement, disagreement, or raising any counterclaims.
Does Georgia Offer a Quick Divorce?
While there is no such thing as a “quick” divorce, Georgia does offer options for expediting the process. Besides an uncontested divorce, which can be finalized in as little as 31 days after the 30-day waiting period, Georgia also recognizes a “no-fault” divorce ground called “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” This means that if both parties agree that the marriage is broken beyond repair and have reached a settlement on all issues, they may be eligible for a streamlined process that can take as little as 60 days.
This can be a quicker and less expensive option than a contested divorce, which consists of a trial and can take longer to resolve.
What Can Shorten the Divorce Process?
A key factor in expediting the divorce process is the ability of both parties to collaborate and reach agreements on various aspects, such as property division, alimony, child support, and child custody. When both parties are open to compromise and negotiation, the divorce process can be completed more efficiently. Additionally, engaging the services of a local divorce attorney can help streamline the process by ensuring all necessary documents are filed accurately and on time. Our firm has experienced divorce attorneys available to assist clients throughout the state, regularly representing individuals in family law cases.Newton County, Rockdale County, Walton County, Morgan County, Jasper County, Henry County, Fulton County and DeKalb County.
Makes a Divorce Last Longer Than the Minimum Time?
In Georgia, it is understandable that most couples desire to expedite the finalization of their divorce. However, certain factors can unavoidably prolong the process. These factors may include, but are not limited to:
- Uncooperative or antagonistic attitude of either spouse: Divorces in Georgia progress smoothly when spouses amicably agree on the terms. However, if either spouse contests the divorce or displays an uncooperative, antagonistic, or overly emotional attitude, it can cause delays in the process. Mediation is often recommended to help spouses reach an agreement and move forward with the divorce.
- Minor children: Matters of child custody in Georgia are often contentious and require time to be resolved by a Georgia custody lawyer.
- Changing legal separation to divorce: In Georgia, the divorce process can be impacted when a couple is legally separated. While divorce and legal separation are similar in Georgia, with legal separation, the couple is still technically married. If either or both spouses wish to dissolve their marriage, they must wait six months from the legal separation date for the decree to be converted to a final divorce order.
- Alimony disputes: Alimony disputes, also known as spousal support, can prolong the finalization of a divorce in Georgia. Spousal support ensures that the lower-earning spouse is financially supported during or after the divorce to prevent destitution.
- Division of assets and debts: Dividing assets and debts can be more challenging and time-consuming in high-net-worth marriages in Georgia, especially if there is no pre- or post-nuptial agreement in place. Spouses may also disagree on the division of debts, further prolonging the divorce proceedings.
For a Smoother, Less Stressful Divorce Process, Hire a Divorce Attorney You Can Trust
Divorce proceedings in Georgia State usually take around 6 to 12 months, considering the information provided. However, divorces, even the simplest ones, often get needlessly prolonged due to heightened emotions. This unnecessary delay can stretch for months or even years.
To streamline your divorce and protect the best interests of you and your children, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a skilled Georgia lawyer. At Petrelli Previtera, our firm, renowned for its excellence, is dedicated to achieving the best possible outcomes, even in highly contested divorces.
If you require a highly trusted divorce attorney to guide you through the process and advocate for the best possible results, please reach out to our team online or call us at (866) 465-5395 to schedule a consultation. Embark on your journey towards complete peace of mind today.