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A variety of factors must be considered when assessing how easy or challenging a state is when it comes to getting an uncontested divorce. Among the most important factors DivorceWriter considers when rating the divorce difficulty level in a given state are:
An uncontested divorce in Georgia requires the following forms:
Forms to Begin Your Divorce
Forms to Finalize Your Divorce
Forms for Cases Involving Minor Children
When it comes to the number of forms, you'll need 10-11 forms for an uncontested divorce (15-16 if you have minor children together). This might seem like a lot, but nationwide, that's pretty much par for the course.
In assessing form complexity, DivorceWriter looks to things like signing requirements (ex. is notarization required) and whether any forms require detailed information that it isn't practical for us to collect in the online interview (such as monthly living expenses), which must then be hand-filled by the customer before filing. In Georgia, the spouse that files for divorce (Petitioner), must sign two to three documents in front of a Notary Public (plus two more if there are minor children) and the non-filing spouse (Respondent) must sign on one document in front of a Notary Public (plus one more if there are minor children). Additionally, the Affidavit Regarding Custody and the Financial Affidavits require you to add information before filing.
The Superior Court Clerk's office requires that the Petitioner either pay a one-time fee when a new divorce case is filed, or in the alternative, that the filing fee be waived by the judge. The divorce filing fee in Georgia varies from county to county, but typically is between $150 and $250. Compared to states like Mississippi, Wyoming and North Dakota, which all have an average filing fees of less than $100, the filing fee in Georgia may seem high. However, compared to California and Florida, where you will pay more than $400 to file for divorce, Georgia seems far more reasonable. In fact, the filing fee in Georgia is comparable to what most states are charging.
In an uncontested divorce in Georgia, there's no need for formal service by a Sheriff or private process server. Instead, the Petitioner hand-delivers divorce papers to the Respondent, who then accepts service by signing an Acknowledgment of Service, Consent to Jurisdiction and Venue, and Consent to Present case. If a hearing is required to finalize the divorce in your county, the Petitioner will also provide the Respondent with a completed Notice of Hearing. In the alternative, if a hearing is not required, when the Petitioner files a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings the Petitioner will also need to give a copy of that Motion and accompanying Affidavit to Respondent and after doing so, complete the Certificate of Service on that document and file it with the Court.
Compared to other states, being able to serve your spouse by hand-delivering the divorce papers is about as easy as it gets. In Florida and Indiana, for example, service must be handled through the Sheriff's office. In Michigan and California, the spouse who files for divorce must select a "helper" to serve divorce papers on the other spouse. Also more complicated than Georgia are states like North Carolina and Maryland where service is completed by sending divorce papers to your spouse by Certified Mail with a return-receipt and restricted delivery.
Courts in many states require divorcing parents to attend a parenting seminar before the divorce can be finalized. These seminars are well-intended and usually end up imparting valuable information and tips on co-parenting that benefit both parents and children. However, because most people see it as a burden that they would skip if possible, in assessing the ease of divorce in any state, DivorceWriter must consider whether parenting classes are required.
As with divorce hearings (see below), whether a Georgia couple with children will be required to attend a parenting class depends on the county. The Court Clerk will be able to tell you for certain whether parenting classes are required in your county. If they are, both spouses must attend. Occasionally, the Respondent will not cooperate with attending the mandatory parenting class. If this happens the judge will probably finalize your divorce anyway, but may find the Respondent in contempt of court for his or her non-attendance.
The Court Clerk's office in your county will be able to tell you if your Judge requires a court hearing to finalize your divorce or if your Judge prefers you to finalize your divorce by filing a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and Affidavit. If a hearing is required, the Petitioner must send a copy of the completed Notice of Hearing to the Respondent. However, while the Respondent is always entitled to be notified of the hearing time, date and location, only the Petitioner must attend the hearing.
If a hearing is required in your county, arrive 10-15 minutes before your hearing. Also bring a copy of all the documents you have already filed as well as the Final Judgment and Decree, Report of Divorce, Annulment, or Dissolution of Marriage, and Domestic Relations Final Disposition Information Form. Don't bring any children with you to the hearing and be sure to dress appropriately. At a bare minimum, don't wear jeans, shorts, t-shirts, shirts with writing on them, or tank tops. Ideally, you should dress as much like a lawyer as you can. Finally, you should always refer to the judge as "Your Honor."
After you have been sworn in, the judge will most likely expect you to give the following testimony:
If no hearing is required in your county, the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and Affidavit in Support of Judgment on the Pleadings can be signed and filed as soon as 31 days have passed from the date the Acknowledgment of Service, Consent to Jurisdiction and Venue, and Consent to Present Case was filed with the Court Clerk's office. Since you won't be going to Court for the hearing, you'll also have to make sure that the original and all copies of the Final Judgment and Decree, Report of Divorce, Annulment, or Dissolution of Marriage, and Domestic Relations Final Disposition Information Form are filed with the Court Clerk. Once your judge has signed the Final Judgment and Decree, you'll be mailed a copy.
Georgia state law allows for divorces, both with and without minor children, to be finalized 31 days after the Respondent has been served with the Petition for Divorce (i.e. 31 days after Respondent's signed Acknowledgment of Service, Consent to Jurisdiction and Venue, and Consent to Present Case is filed with the Court Clerk's office.)
The best way to ensure that your divorce is completed as quickly as possible is for the Petitioner to meet Respondent at the bank or business that has a Notary Public on staff. This allows Petitioner to serve the divorce papers on Respondent in person and also leave with Respondent's notarized Acknowledgment form in hand. Petitioner then heads to the Court Clerk's office to file the Acknowledgment so the 31-day waiting period begins. Of course, this isn't possible for every couple, and depending on your circumstances, this process could take much longer.
In order to rate the ease of Georgia divorce compared to the rest of the U.S., let's assume that 1=Easier than most states, 2=Average, and 3=More difficult than most states.
Number and complexity of forms: 2
The number of forms is comparable with most states. Notarization is required on at least one form for both spouses, and customers with children will need to have additional forms notarized ad also fill in some information on the Financial and Custody Affidavits.
Amount of Filing Fee: 2
When it comes to divorce filing fees in the U.S., Georgia ranks in the middle, with divorce filing fees ranging between $150 and $250.
Serving your spouse: 1
Georgia allows service by hand-delivery when the Respondent will sign a form acknowledging service in front of Notary Public, which is much easier and cheaper than service of process requirements in other states.
Parenting classes in divorces with children: 1.5
Compared to parenting class requirements in other states, Georgia ranks better than average with only some counties requiring classes.
Divorce hearing requirement: 1.5
Since only some counties require a hearing to finalize a divorce, Georgia is also considered better than average when it comes to the divorce hearing requirement nationwide.
Minimum time to complete an uncontested divorce: 1
Your divorce can be finalized in as little as 31 days, which is less than the time required to complete a divorce in most states