Coleman Legal Group, LLC
Call 770-609-1247 to speak with an Atlanta Contested Divorce Attorney
A contested divorce is one that is filed by a spouse despite disagreements between the couple about the divorce. In Atlanta Georgia, you can file for a contested divorce based on twelve fault grounds. While Georgia laws concerning divorce do not change depending on whether the divorce is contested or not, a contested divorce may entail multiple preliminary hearings before the final trial. Atlanta Georgia contested divorce cases will usually be filed in one of two counties, Fulton County or DeKalb County which is usually determined by where the parties reside.
Generally a contested divorce differs from an uncontested divorce because it is filed with the court by one party (the plaintiff) and served on the other party (the defendant) by a sheriff’s deputy or a licensed process server. Sometimes the defendant will be asked to sign an “acknowledgement of service” to avoid the plaintiff having to pay for formal service. However, all contested divorces must be filed with the court and therefore will be assigned a case number by the court. If you have been formally served with a divorce or have been asked to sign an “acknowledgment of service” it is important that you speak with an attorney. Normally you only have thirty (30) days to respond to a complaint for divorce. However, waiting till the last minute to speak with an attorney may make it more difficult for an attorney to prepare the best defense for you depending on the complexity of your case. By their inherent nature, contested divorces filed with the court will not usually include any written agreements between the parties. If there is any agreement offered to the court, it will be incomplete and the court will be required to decide all outstanding issues.
When a married couple decides to divorce but cannot reach a comprehensive agreement, then the filing of a contested divorce case may be required to obtain a Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce with the help of divorce attorneys and a final determination to be made by a Superior Court Judge. Contested divorces usually take more time and are not normally done without attorneys because of the complex legal rules that govern the process, which include the Superior Court Rules, local county court rules and the Official Code of Georgia. However, trying to learn as much about the process before filing a divorce, learning about court procedure and organizing your case well before hand will only help facilitate the procedure as well as possibly gain an edge in your favor.
Once an Atlanta Georgia contested divorce is filed, typically a local law enforcement official delivers the divorce petition to the defendant, or non-filing spouse. After both parties come to court, the judge will determine how to divide property equitably in accordance to Georgia laws and also decides child custody and child support, although if the child is over fourteen he/she can express which parent he/she would like to live with.
Georgia divorce law and the Atlanta area divorce courts require the plaintiff must file a document called a Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit (DRFA) with the court to provide information on your current budget, assets, and debts. A copy of this information must be exchanged with your spouse after you file your complaint to your local Supreme Court. Afterwards, Georgia court allows you to request for temporary orders during a pending divorce if necessary. Temporary hearings not only assist during visitation and support issues but also prevent individuals from harassment or breaking marital assets until the final divorce decision arrives.
In Georgia, you generally will find that you need an attorney for a contested divorce. A professional in state divorce law and court procedure can provide ample guidance to help prepare your case, offer extensive knowledge and support, and even minimize legal charges. Also, an attorney can guide mediation between two parties even after filling a divorce petition to attempt reconciliation after any misunderstandings or assist during the legal procedure to secure appropriate claims.
If one of the disagreements between the parties involves the custody of the minor children, the court has the discretion to appoint (not to appoint) a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) who acts as both an official court evaluator and unofficially sometimes a mediator of the custody of the minor children. Once appointed by the court, the Guardian ad Litem will gather information about the living conditions of the children, their welfare, education, etc. and make official recommendations to the court. If the parties reach an agreement before going to trial, then usually the trial can be avoided. However, if the parties do not reach an agreement then the Guardian ad Litem’s report will be considered by the judge as a part of the final trial. In Atlanta Georgia contested divorce cases, either party can choose for a trial by jury or a trial by a judge the alone (called a bench trial). However, Georgia divorce law only allows a superior court judge to decide custody issues for minor children. However a jury can decide how to divorce marital assets, marital debts, and other financial and property issues.
Our Atlanta Georgia contested divorce lawyers and attorneys handle cases in the following cities and communities: Atlanta, Alpharetta, Roswell, Johns Creek, Milton, Cumming, Marietta, Woodstock, Kennesaw, Gainseville, Midtown Atlanta, Norcross, Lawrenceville, Kennesaw, Duluth, Buckhead, Dunwoody, Vinings, and Smyrna.
Our Atlanta Georgia contested divorce attorneys frequently handle cases for clients residing in the following counties: Fulton, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Cobb, DeKalb, Henry, Cherokee, Douglas, Carroll, Coweta, Paulding, Bartow, Hall, Barrow, Walton, Newton, Rockdale, Henry, Spalding, Fayette and Clayton.
Coleman Legal Group, LLC’s Atlanta Georgia lawyers practice in the areas of Divorce, Family Law, Immigration, Bankruptcy and Business Law. We have two convenient offices located at:
Alpharetta Georgia Office
5755 North Point Parkway
Alpharetta, GA 30022
Atlanta Georgia Office
659 Auburn Avenue Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30312
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