Divorce in Douglasville

Happily ever after does not always happen. In fact, divorce has unfortunately become very commonplace in our society. Maybe your parents are divorced. Or you are a child of divorce. Or you have helped a sibling, friend, or co-worker through a separation. But when you said “I do”, you never thought that you would be here. Now, who do you turn to? Where do you start?

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You are not required to hire a lawyer. However, since the issues can become complex and the results long-lasting, it is highly recommended that you seek legal counsel.

You can file an enforcement action if your ex-spouse or child’s parent fails to comply with a court order. This requires you to file a new action, called a Petition for Citation of Contempt, in the same county that heard your original case.

Yes, child custody, visitation, and child support can be changed. However, in order to change child support, it is generally required that you show a financial status of the parties (often times, your income has gone down, your child’s parent’s income has gone up) or the needs of your children. To change custody or visitation, you need to show that there has been a change impacting the best interests of the children before a modification will be considered.

If you were not married to your child’s parent, as a father, you can file a lawsuit called a legitimation. If you are the mother, you can file a paternity suit. Either action will allow you to pursue custody, visitation, or child support.

Georgia uses Child Support Guidelines to determine child support. Each parent’s wages, or earning capacity, is considered, and can consider payment of the health insurance coverage, activities, childcare, and other factors to determine the most appropriate support amount. Each parent is required to submit a Child Support Worksheet, which is a calculator used statewide, but a Court has broad discretion to determine the ultimate obligation.

The standard to determine custody in Georgia is “best interests of the child.” Many factors are typically considered by a Judge, including the love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child, each parent’s knowledge and familiarity of the child and the child’s needs, the capacity and disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, day-to-day needs, and other necessary basic care, the home environment of each parent the mental and physical health of each parent, and each parent’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the child’s educational, social, and extracurricular activities. Courts can consider the recommendation by a court-appointed professional or the wishes of the child if he or she is older.

Georgia law requires your assigned Judge in Douglasville to divide marital property equitably, or fairly, if the parties cannot agree on how to divide things on their own. Judges must first determine which assets are “marital” (i.e., acquired during the marriage) and which ones are a spouse’s “separate” (i.e., pre-marital, or sometimes post-separation, or given as a gift) property. Judges must also figure out which debts each spouse will be responsible for post-divorce in a fair manner.

Mediation is a process where a trained professional, called a mediator, serves as a neutral and attempts to assist parties in resolving differences in their divorce. In Douglasville, mediation is required by the parties before the assigned Judge will hear your final divorce. Although it is most common, for the mediation to be held several weeks or several months after the divorce has been filed, many benefit from trying mediation earlier—even before the divorce is even filed. If a lawyer is involved in your case, it is also common to engage in a settlement conference (essentially a mediation without the mediator) or informal settlement discussions (i.e., emails, phone calls with the other side geared towards resolving your case). Unlike mediation, these can occur at any time and do not need to schedule a session in advance.

Technically, no. A true uncontested divorce means that your spouse files the settlement paperwork along with the Complaint for Divorce. If one is not filed, your case is considered contested. However, this does not mean that your case cannot be resolved by agreement. There are very contentious, contested cases that are active for more than a year and require a trial before a judge or jury to resolve the matter, but there are also contested cases that get resolved only a few days or few weeks after the case was initially filed as contested. For more information on ways

To file an uncontested divorce in Douglasville, you need to come to an agreement on all of the issues in your divorce, including property and debt division and alimony, as well as child custody, visitation, and child support if children are involved. This Settlement Agreement needs to be in writing. The Settlement Agreement is then filed at the same time as the Complaint for Divorce.

Although only an Answer is required, it usually makes sense for the Defendant-spouse to file their own lawsuit seeking a divorce, called a Counterclaim. You can assert your own grounds for the divorce, including fault grounds in this document. It also affords to set forth your generic claims for property and division, alimony, and if children are involved, child custody, visitation, and child support. By only filing an Answer, instead of an Answer and Counterclaim, you may subject yourself to negative legal consequences since you will not have your own lawsuit pending. For example, if your spouse wishes to reconcile after he has filed the divorce, but you do not, he may be able to simply dismiss his lawsuit and cancel the entire divorce. However, if you have your own suit (a Counterclaim) also filed, the case would continue.

An Answer is a document that file with the Court in response to your spouse’s Complaint for Divorce. It requires you to Answer each allegation set forth in your spouse’s Complaint for Divorce by admitting or denying each assertion. For example, if your spouse alleges in paragraph 1 of the Complaint that he has lived in Georgia for at least six (6) months prior to the filing of the Complaint, and you agree with this statement, you can say “Defendant hereby admits the allegations contained in paragraph 1.”

Georgia law affords a Defendant thirty (30) days to file a response, most commonly an Answer or Answer and Counterclaim.

You may be able to file for Douglasville. However, since another county or state may be the proper jurisdiction, check with a lawyer to determine where to file your divorce.

After filing, the next step is to notify your spouse that you have filed for divorce. You can do this by having him or her sign an Acknowledgment of Service, by paying the Sheriff a fee ($50 if your spouse lives in Douglas County), or hiring a special process server to deliver the paperwork to your spouse.

To initiate a divorce in Douglasville, you file a Complaint for Divorce at the Douglas County Superior Court clerk’s office, and pay a filing fee of $212.00. The initial Complaint can be basic, but needs to include your date of marriage, date of separation, and a grounds for divorce. You will want to let the Court know that you want property and debt divided, but need not list all of your specific assets and debts in the Complaint. If you have children, you will also want to request that the Court address issues of child custody, visitation, and child support. Other documents routinely filed with the Complaint include a Summons, Domestic Relations Case Filing Information Form, Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit, and Child Support Worksheet (if children are involved).