To begin a divorce proceeding a spouse must go to Superior Court (usually in the county where the couple lives) and file a Complaint for Divorce, also known as a Petition for Divorce. There is a filing fee that must be paid to the clerk’s office at the time of filing – contact your local court for the exact amount, plus ask about any other fees that may apply.
The divorce petition is a formal and legal declaration to the court and to your spouse that you are seeking a divorce. This document also states that you are seeking relief for all other related issues such as alimony or spousal support, child custody, and equitable division of property including any outstanding debts.
A copy of the Complaint for Divorce will be served on (personally delivered to) the other spouse by a sheriff of the appropriate county, a private process server, by you, or by your divorce attorney.
Does It Matter Who Files First In a Divorce?
Legally it does not matter which spouse initiates the divorce, but of course the person filing will typically pay the filing fees mentioned above. Regardless of who files first, both parties are treated equally under the law.
Emotionally it can make a difference who files first, and I have had clients who were completely caught off guard when they were served with divorce papers. Hopefully the couple already has talked about the state of their marriage and their options before the courts get involved. Of course their relationship may be too strained for those talks to happen.
Do Both Parties Have to Pay For the Divorce?
The spouse who files for divorce in Georgia will pay the filing fee unless the other spouse agrees to cover this cost. I can help you file your Petition when you are ready and also show you how and where to file.
Each family situation is different, and over my 30-year law career I have helped couples reach an agreement regarding their financial situation so that there is an equitable outcome. Beyond court fees there will be legal fees if an attorney is hired. Personally, I ask for a retainer when you hire me, and I will return any unearned portion at the end of a case once your divorce is finalized.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in Georgia?
The answer depends on whether a divorce is simple or complicated, and how well the spouses can resolve all living arrangements and financial issues between them. Every divorce is different. Understandably, the more the two of you can agree on terms, the more both of you will save on time and on divorce attorney legal fees.
Please call my office at (770) 980-9096 if you are thinking of filing for divorce. Even if you decide to represent yourself, or hire a different Atlanta divorce lawyer, I can answer your questions and advise you on the best way to proceed.