I live in Alpharetta, Georgia. Where should my divorce case be filed?

Divorce cases for people residing in Alpharetta are generally filed in the Superior Court of Fulton County. However, for people that live in the Alpharetta city limits, but reside in Forsyth County, their divorce cases will generally be filed in the Forsyth County Superior Court. If your spouse lives in a different county than you, he or she can may agree to have the case filed in the county you reside (Fulton or Forsyth), but if there is no agreement you may have to file your case in the county your spouse resides.

Am I required to live in Georgia to file for divorce in Georgia?

Yes. At least one party must live in Georgia for at least six months to file for divorce in Georgia.

What if my spouse does not agree to divorce?

The fact that your spouse does not agree to divorce is irrelevant. If one party wants a divorce, that party may file for the divorce regardless of the other party’s objection. However, this will be considered as contested divorce and will likely take longer to resolve.

What are the grounds for divorce in Georgia?

To file for divorce, in the state of Georgia, no finding of fault for divorce is required. One can commonly cite “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for the divorce. A complete list of grounds for divorce is as follows:

No Fault Divorce:

(1) The marriage is irretrievably broken.

Fault Divorce:

(1) Intermarriage by persons within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity or affinity;

(2) Mental incapacity;

(3) Impotency;

(4) Duress, or fraud in obtaining the marriage;

(5) Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband, at the time of the marriage, unknown to the husband;

(6) Adultery;

(7) Willful and continued desertion for one year;

(8) Imprisonment for a term of two years or longer;

(9) Habitual intoxication;

(10) Cruel treatment;

(11) Incurable mental illness;

(12) Habitual drug addiction.

Georgia Code O.C.G.A. 19-5-3

What if one party is at fault?

Georgia allows for fault-based divorce on several grounds, including, but not limited to: adultery, drug addiction, and imprisonment. A finding of fault will likely impact support order and custody agreements. For example, in the state of Georgia, adultery is a complete bar to an alimony award.

Do I have to hire a divorce attorney?

It is possible to appear pro se (without an attorney) but it is not advisable, particularly where children are involved. A later modification to the agreement is very difficult (and likely expensive) to obtain and only support agreements may be modified. The division of property will never be available for a modification once the judge signs the final decree. It is best to have the divorce done properly the first time to avoid going back to court later.

Do both parties need their own attorney?

If both parties need an attorney depends on several factors. Depending on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, an attorney may be required. In uncontested divorces, parties are in an agreement to the all the specific terms prior to filing of the divorce. Generally, Uncontested divorces often do not involve children or significant assets. In this case, one party may hire an attorney to draw up the agreement and both parties will sign the agreement.

On the other hand, contested divorce can become rather complex. A contested divorce requires negotiation over the terms before the parties can come to an agreement. In the case of a contested divorce, each party must be represented by their own attorney because the dispute will likely need to be resolved through the basis of mediation or litigation.

I have only been married for a short time. Can I just get an annulment?

Generally, no. Annulments are rare and usually on granted in cases of fraud.

Do we have to be legally separated to file for divorce?

Yes, in the State of Georgia, you are required to be “legally separated.” The meaning of “legal separation” does not necessarily mean the parties are not living together. In Georgia, it depends on whether the couple considers themselves to be separated at the time of the divorce.

Can I get alimony in Georgia?

Alimony or spousal support is available in Georgia, but it is decided on a case-by-case basis. The court will look at each party’s income and debts amongst several other factors to determine which, if any, party will pay alimony.

How will the court decide how much child support is to be paid?

Georgia courts, including cases filed for Alpharetta, universally use a child support worksheet to determine which party pays child support and how much will be paid. The worksheet balances the income and debts of each party to generate an amount of support.

What happens if I need more child support later?

If there are “significant changes in circumstances, Modifications can be requested every two years, but starting at anytime following the divorce. In an event the paying party loses their job, two-year time limit does not apply.

How will the court divide our property?

In the state of Georgia, including Alpharetta divorces, the courts use equitable division to divide marital property. Marital property is anything purchased with marital funds. Property division is complex because some things will be considered marital property by the court, even where the parties do not consider the property to be marital. For this reason, couples with significant assets should always hire an attorney.

How do I change my name?

A woman may return to her maiden name by including such a provision in the agreement. This will be reflected in the final divorce decree, which the woman may then use as proof of the name change in order to change her name on her bank accounts, passport, social security card, etc.

How long does it take to finalize the divorce?

Divorce finalization proceeding is up to the parties. An uncontested divorce is shorter in duration because the parties agree on the terms, but contested divorces are much more common. Often, couples will blame courts and attorneys for drawing out the process but the reality is, the parties have total control over the length of the divorce proceeding. As soon as the parties can come to an agreement, the proceeding is over. Once the agreement if filed with the court, the judge will usually issue the final decree within thirty days.

Do I have to wait until the divorce is finalized to start dating?

No, but you should. As a general rule, nothing good can come from your spouse learning you are dating someone during the divorce. Once the divorce is final, the parties can pursue new relationships, at their own discretion.

Where should I go for more help?

If you still have questions about the divorce process for Alpharetta in Fulton and Forsyth County, call us at 770-609-1247 to discuss your case with one of our experienced and caring Alpharetta divorce attorneys.