Litigating The Cases That Matter The Most

Savannah Divorce Attorney

Going through a divorce is never easy. You’re probably anxious and worried about what’s next. Will you lose everything you worked so hard for? At the Claiborne Firm, we want you to know we are here to support you through this difficult time. With preparation and patience, you can have hope for a positive outcome.

We prepare as if each case will go to trial. Because of that thorough preparation, most of our cases never make it that far, resolving through alternative dispute resolution or mediation. We’re proud of our track record of resolving cases prior to trial.

We know it’s important for our clients to maintain amicable relationships with their spouses so they can comfortably take part in life’s milestone events like a child’s graduation or wedding. We know our clients also want to maintain good relationships with their children after the divorce. We work to get our clients everything they want and deserve without destroying their relationships in the process.

How Long Do Divorces Take in Georgia?

Each divorce case is different, and the length of a divorce proceeding will depend on each case’s unique circumstances. Uncontested divorces, where both parties come to an agreement on disputed issues prior to filing for divorce, can be resolved in as few as 31 days after serving papers. A contested divorce, where there are disputes over different issues that have to be decided by the courts, can take six months to multiple years.

How Long Does It Take to Separate from My Spouse in Georgia?

Georgia does not have “legal separations” by law. Instead, Georgia employs something known as “separate maintenance” when people don’t want to divorce but want to live separately.

A separate maintenance order confers some of the benefits of a legal separation but does not end the marriage. You cannot marry someone else, and you still must work through issues like division of property, alimony, child custody, and child support. A lawyer can help you decide where to file for a separate maintenance order. One party must have lived in Georgia for 30 days before being eligible to file for separate maintenance.

The only way to officially end a marriage in Georgia is through divorce. A separate maintenance order allows you to live separately but does not end the marriage.

How to File a Divorce Complaint

To file for divorce, you must submit a formal petition for divorce with the Superior Court in your county. In the petition, you must indicate the legal grounds on which you are filing for divorce. Because Georgia is a “no-fault” divorce state, you must state one of 13 grounds for divorce, including:

  • • The marriage is irretrievably broken
  • • Marriage by people within illegal degrees of kinship
  • • Mentally incapacitated at the time of marriage
  • • Impotency at the time of marriage
  • • Force, duress, menace, fraud was committed to obtain the marriage
  • • Pregnancy by someone other than the spouse at the time of marriage
  • • Adultery
  • • Desertion
  • • Conviction of a crime of moral turpitude with a prison sentence of two or more years
  • • Habitual intoxication
  • • Habitual drug use
  • • Cruelty
  • • Untreatable mental illness

 

You must provide evidence to prove any of the grounds other than “the marriage is irretrievably broken.”

Once you file the petition, you are known as the “petitioner.” Your spouse is considered the “respondent.” Once your spouse is served divorce papers, they have 30 days to respond to the petition.

After Filing for Divorce

Once you file for divorce, take care to moderate your behavior and words. Making disparaging comments to friends or family or on social media can put your case in jeopardy. Being charged with any kind of criminal act can also hurt your case, particularly child custody. At the Claiborne Firm, we advise all our clients on best practices during divorce proceedings.

Temporary Court Orders

When parties dispute some elements of the divorce, the court may be asked to decide on things like property possession, living arrangements, child custody, child support, alimony, debt payments, and other issues while the disputes are being negotiated through temporary court orders. While the divorce process is ongoing, you are not allowed to sell or liquidate any assets or property. You must follow the court orders once they’ve been decided. Failing to follow a court order could result in contempt of court charges.

Child Custody and Child Support

Most divorce cases with children involved will include a temporary court order concerning child custody and visitations during the divorce proceedings. The temporary order may be different from what is ultimately decided regarding custody. The temporary and final order should cover how childcare expenses are paid, including medical care, dental care, clothing, food, and school activities, as well as who has custody and visitation rights.

Resolving the Divorce Process

There are several steps in the divorce process, including:

  • Discovery – Discovery is the stage where evidence is gathered to support your case. Evidence should document your income and expenses, shared assets, and parenting qualifications. If you claimed grounds for divorce other than “the marriage is irretrievably broken,” you should also collect evidence of the behavior, such as abuse or adultery. Your lawyer should advise you on the documents and evidence you need.
  • Mediation – To finalize your divorce, you and your spouse must both sign a settlement agreement that outlines the terms of your divorce, including alimony, child support, child custody, and distribution of assets. In mediation, the partners draft a settlement and have it reviewed by their lawyers prior to signing the formal documents.
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution – Alternative dispute resolution is another way a divorce can be settled outside of court. We’re handled and resolved many cases through alternative dispute resolution at the Claiborne Firm. We see this as the best possible outcome for our clients – they don’t have to sacrifice what they want, and they avoid the burden of going to trial.
  • Trial – When negotiations like mediation and alternative dispute resolution are not successful, sometimes cases do move to trial. We are always prepared for this possibility to make the strongest case for our clients. You should feel supported by your legal team, and we work to make that happen by guiding you through the whole process. In trial court, the judge or jury will ultimately settle any disputes that could not be settled out of court to finalize the divorce.

 

Your Settlement

The court reviews your settlement once it has been signed by both parties. Typically, it is approved, but sometimes, even when both parties agree to the settlement conditions, the court can change them. This typically happens with child custody and child support agreements.

Moving on After Divorce

Once your divorce is settled, you can take a deep breath. Things might be different now, and you may have to abide by different aspects of the settlement, but the fight is over. You can move on. Take this time to take care of yourself as you heal both mentally and emotionally from this process.

What Makes the Claiborne Firm Different?

We give each client the time and attention they deserve because we keep our caseloads intentionally low. We take the cases that matter to us, and we fight for what our clients want in divorce proceedings, while respecting their wishes to find mutually agreeable settlements with their ex-spouses.

If you are considering filing for divorce, contact us to schedule a consultation.

Divorce Consolation Fee

If you are considering filing for divorce, contact us to schedule a consultation with our attorneys.

There is a consultation fee for the initial appointment that will be applied to your legal fees if you hire our firm. The consultation will last about an hour where you can openly share everything that is going on while we take extensive notes and prepare a strategy for your divorce case. We are conducting these secure, confidential consultations online during COVID.

Call (912) 351-8775 or Contact Us Online

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