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How to successfully file for divorce

Divorce is never easy, even if you were unhappy in the marriage. A marriage that is recognized by the court of law can only be terminated through a legal process. The divorcing partners must find a way of solving issues related to joint assets and debts, child custody, and visitation rights. Before filing for divorce, you must be legally separated from your spouse.

In Georgia, legal separation implies the suspension of marital relationships with divorce in mind. This means that you can be legally separated from your partner while you still live under the same roof. Grounds that can be used as a basis to file for divorce in Georgia include:

  • The use of force, duress or fraud to obtain the marriage.
  • Impotency.
  • Intentional and prolonged desertion amounting to one year by your partner.
  • The conviction of your partner by the court in an offense that involves moral improbity.
  • Cruel treatment, which may include the willful infliction of bodily or mental pain. This justifies to the court that the other party poses a great risk to your life or health.
  • Habitual drug addiction to controlled substances that are listed in Georgia's laws.
  • Incurable mental illness.
  • Your union is irretrievably broken.

Divorce is set in motion when one of the parties files a complaint and summons at the county of residence's Superior Court. Typically, you will be asked to pay a nominal filing fee. The complaint must include your name and that of your partner, the court's jurisdiction in the case, birth dates and names of your children, the relief requested, and the grounds for divorce. The defendant has 30 days to respond to the court summons.

Most divorce cases are settled before trial, and this is often done via a separation agreement. Both sides need to agree on the provisions. The agreement spells out the position that you and your partner have taken with regard to alimony, property division, child support, and visitation rights. If you decide to settle the divorce by agreement, it is considered to be an uncontested matter, which only goes to court as a formality. Divorce can be a complicated process and it's a good idea to have an experienced attorney on your side. 

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