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Do not take the divorce process lightly in Georgia. It may not be complicated, depending on your situation, but you still need to know all of the right legal steps to take, the laws that govern your ability to file for divorce, and the like. This way, you can avoid simple mistakes and move through this easily. Understanding all of this also gives you the ability to fight for the things that you want out of the divorce, such as child custody rights or a good property division agreement. Check out some of the key points below.
Do not expect to get an equal split when it comes to property in Georgia, where equitable property division laws are used. Rather than an equal division, with a line down the middle, the judge has room to look for a fair division ruling. Exactly what the judge decides is fair depends on many things, such as: the arguments you put forth, who purchased specific property, how much you and your spouse earned individually, what other assets you still have, and how the child custody agreement comes out.
The best interests of the child remain at the center of all custody cases, and the judge will start things off with the basic assumption that it is always better for children to have two parents in their lives. For this reason, joint custody will be the judge's goal with this ruling. Though you or your spouse may have the child more often —-f or instance, your son or daughter could live with you most often during the school year, but then visit your spouse more on weekends and breaks -— this is still joint legal and physical custody.
Do you think that sole custody would be better? If you do, you can ask for it to be granted. For example, if your spouse will not provide a stable and safe home life for the child, you may want all of the custody rights. However, if you do this, just know that it becomes your job to convince the judge that it is necessary, overriding the tendency toward joint custody.
Unless it is impossible, both parents are expected to support a child. This is true in both joint and sole custody rulings. The court looks at things like available assets, where a child lives, who does more work to take care of the child, and the like. The judge will find out what the level of support for the child should be, then he or she will break that down -— based on the factors listed above -— to see what percentage of that whole should be provided by each partner. When that is determined, the partner who should provide a higher level of support will have to pay the other party the difference.
When declaring that you want a divorce, you have a choice: You can say that no one is at fault, which means things are more of a mutual decision, or you can say that your spouse is at fault. Georgia offers both. The advantage to claiming fault is that the reason that you want a divorce may also be important when looking at things like who has to pay child support and who gets custody.
Alternatively, a separation can be used as the grounds when you file the paperwork. You and your spouse must have been apart for 24 months -— two years -— to use this.
As a final note, you do have to establish yourself as a resident of the state for six months prior to a divorce filing; however, it is only required that you or your spouse have been living there for six months, and not necessarily that you both have been. Even if you just moved to Georgia, you can still file if your spouse has been there long enough.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified divorce lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local divorce attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.