How long will my divorce take?
Fortunately, there is no lengthy waiting period in Georgia for divorce cases. An uncontested divorce can be granted in as little as 31 days. In order for the Court to have jurisdiction to grant your final divorce decree, the case must be pending for at least 31 days after service on the defendant. On average, most contested divorce cases take nine to twelve months to resolve. If you and your spouse have an agreement as to the custody of your children and division of your assets, it is possible that an attorney at Atlanta Family Law Group can help you draft all of the required paperwork, including a divorce decree, settlement agreement, and parenting plan, and assist you in obtaining the judge’s signature on the Decree on or after the thirty-first day after the service on the defendant. This is the fastest possible outcome.
Finalizing your divorce in that short window of time is possible for some parties. But often, it takes time for people to determine what their marital estate is and then reach agreements as to how to divide it. Additionally, custody disputes and disagreements on child and spousal support often expand the length of the litigation. Even if you believe that your divorce is relatively simple or easy, it is possible that you have not considered something that could provide a benefit to you or your children. It is highly recommended that you have an attorney at Atlanta Family Law Group review any potential agreements that you have reached so that you can consider your options and reduce your risk in your divorce before signing off on your Final Divorce Decree.
How do we divide our stuff?
During your divorce case, you will be asked to provide information on all of your assets. This includes your vehicles, real property, bank accounts, mortgages, credit card balances, brokerage accounts, inheritances, businesses, business interests, trust accounts, retirement accounts, stock, restricted stock, and other assets. Once we have a complete understanding and list of what you own, we can then discuss how you would prefer to divide up your marital property. Providing this information to your attorney is the first step in the process. Exchanging that information with the other party during the discovery process is typically the next step in the litigation process. With parties having significant assets, determining how to divide up the marital estate can be one of the most complicated processes of divorce.
This can be an easy task when the parties agree on who will get what. However, when there is a dispute, it can be a long, drawn-out ordeal. If you have a marital estate worth a significant amount of money, you will want to have it thoroughly reviewed to examine the implications of its division so as not to put at risk hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. If the parties cannot agree to the division of their estate after negotiating between themselves and their attorneys, a court may equitably divide the marital property during a trial. It is imperative that the parties have the assistance of an attorney during the trial, given the thousands of dollars at stake.
Is legal separation an option in Georgia?
Legal separation, per se, is not an option in Georgia. However, there is a remedy to determine the issues of the marriage outside of a divorce case. This is typically done through a separate maintenance action. Parties will often file a separate maintenance action when they do not want to obtain an actual divorce but need to stop accumulating marital assets and debts, or they need to decide on temporary issues of support. We most often see this when the parties’ religious beliefs prohibit or frown upon divorce. We also occasionally see this when one party is ill, and they live separately, but the ill party still needs financial support or to maintain insurance benefits.
If you and your spouse have decided to separate but are not yet ready to divorce, separate maintenance may be a viable option to determine the financial issues of the marriage.
How do you put value on the business?
Businesses acquired or started during the marriage may be marital assets subject to equitable division. To determine the value of the business, a business valuation expert may be necessary. You may need to speak with an experienced divorce attorney about the value of the rest of the marital estate to ensure that the business can be awarded to the business owner and a fair amount of the remainder of the marital estate to the business owner’s spouse. It can oftentimes be beneficial to speak with an attorney prior to filing for divorce so that you can begin gathering the necessary information that will be needed in the divorce.