How Long Does a Divorce Take in Georgia?

In Georgia, the average divorce length is a few months for an uncontested case and more than 1 year for a contested. When dealing with marriage dissolution, spouses face various challenges that may delay and complicate the process. However, a couple always has an opportunity to expedite their divorce if they manage to solve all the disagreements.

In this article, we will consider the timeline for both contested and uncontested marriage dissolution.

Length Based on the Types of Divorce

Let’s consider how long the process may take, depending on whether your divorce is uncontested or contested.

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Georgia?

On average, an uncontested divorce in Georgia takes 1-3 months. Before getting a divorce in Georgia, most spouses try to reach a consensus to avoid making things even more difficult. If both parties agree to divorce, they have an opportunity to proceed with their case without a lawyer’s assistance, a factor that will save them a lot of time and money.

However, even if the case is not complicated and a couple has nothing to argue about in court, their divorce cannot be finalized until the minimum waiting period adopted in the state is over. In Georgia, it is 30 days for no-fault cases.

The court cannot start reviewing your case until this time expires. Moreover, it does not necessarily mean that your divorce will be handled and granted on the 31st day. The overall timeframe will largely depend on two factors: the court’s workload and the correctness of the divorce paperwork.

If the court is too busy with other cases, you will need to wait for your turn. Finally, if you provide incomplete or incorrect papers, you will be rejected and have to start the filing process over, a factor that considerably delays your divorce.

How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in Georgia?

Considering all the complexities of a contested divorce, it is estimated that it takes at least 1 year to be finalized. Moreover, if the case involves child custody and/or property division disagreements, its duration may be extended to several years.

A contested option is inevitable when spouses are unable to reach an agreement and show no willingness to cooperate, so the judge must make the final decision. Unlike an uncontested case that only requires one final hearing, a contested one involves several processes, such as negotiation, mediation, discovery, and numerous trials at which spouses have to defend their interests with the help of their lawyers.

If one wants to win the case, evidence must be provided, witnesses must be invited, and experts must be engaged. All of these make a contested divorce not only extremely expensive but also very lengthy.

How Long Does a Divorce Take in Georgia with Children Involved?

Estimating the timeline for getting a divorce with children is difficult since it largely depends on the situation. Marriage dissolution may get even more complicated when a couple has children, but only when spouses are unable to agree on child custody and support as well as parenting time.

If parties cannot settle these important matters, they must go to court, where a judge will make a final decision based on various factors, such as the child’s best interests and the overall family situation.

On the contrary, if you and your spouse have already reached a consensus on how you share the custody and parenting time, who pays child support, etc., you can expect your divorce to be finalized within the timeframe usual for uncontested cases. However, it is also important to mention that you must agree on other aspects of divorce to go through your marriage dissolution process fast.

How Long Does It Take for a Divorce to Be Finalized in Georgia?

For uncontested cases, it takes one final hearing for a divorce to be finalized. In Georgia, spouses usually must be present in the court on this day, especially if they have kids. However, the trial does not take long as the judge only needs to make sure that the paperwork is correct and no issues remain unresolved. After that, they sign the final decree, and the divorce is considered officially finalized.

In contested cases, a couple also gets their divorce decree signed during the last hearing. However, unlike in an uncontested marriage dissolution, which usually requires one trial, the final hearing for a contested divorce may be scheduled after months of trial.

Georgia Divorce Process Timeline

A couple must be aware of the basic steps in the Georgia divorce process, irrespective of the type of divorce they are going to seek. Let’s consider the main stages of a marriage dissolution you need to take.

1. Preparing Necessary Divorce Documents (1-2 Weeks)

The first thing you need to do is collect the packet of divorce papers. You may be surprised that this step takes several weeks, but in fact, defining the right forms is not as easy as it may seem. Even though you can find forms online, you must ensure they are up-to-date and court-approved.

Fortunately, you can always hire a lawyer to prepare the package of documents for you. However, the average cost of attorney’s services in Georgia is $300 per hour, a sum that may appear quite high for many couples. So, if working with a lawyer is not an option, you will have to spend a week or two on research.

2. Filing the Divorce Petition (1-2 Weeks)

As soon as you collect all the forms, you must fill them out before filing with the court. This step must also be approached with great attention to detail. Ensure you have filled out all the necessary fields and do not make any mistakes or typos. The court will reject any incorrect document, delaying the whole process.

When you are ready with your divorce paperwork, you need to file it with the local court in your county. Mind that you will have to pay the filing fee, which is approximately $220. If you cannot afford to cover these costs, you can request the court to waive it by filing an Affidavit of Eligibility to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. However, note that it will take some time for a judge to review the papers and make a decision.

3. Waiting Period (30-60 Days)

After you have filed your paperwork, you must complete the waiting period mandated by Georgia laws. According to O.C.G.A. § 19-5-3(13), it is 30 days from the date a petitioner served the paperwork on the respondent if the ground for dissolution is an irretrievably broken marriage.

Indeed, in a no-fault divorce, you should wait at least 30 days until the court will only start reviewing your case. This period may be extended depending on the judge’s caseload and the court’s schedule.

4. Court Review and Approval (2-4 Weeks)

As mentioned earlier, the expired waiting period does not necessarily mean that the judge will sign your divorce decree right away due to the workload. Additionally, the defendant’s response also impacts the timing.

Georgia lawyers estimate that it usually takes from 45 to 60 days for a court to start working on a case. However, if your divorce is contested, the judge will review your case for as long as it takes to reach a final verdict.

5. Issuance of the Final Divorce Decree (1-2 Weeks)

Irrespective of whether your case is contested or uncontested, the judge approves your divorce by issuing the Final Judgment and Decree of divorce. The only difference is that it happens within different timeframes. Additionally, for the decree signed by the judge to be legally valid, you must file it in the Superior Court Clerk’s office, which may also take some time.

After the marriage dissolution finalization, you can obtain a certified copy of your decree. Usually, you need to take it from the court’s clerk. However, in some counties, you can do it online.

Factors Affecting Length of Divorce in Georgia

According to the statistics, more than 90%-95% of couples seek an uncontested divorce. However, some factors may inevitably affect the length of the process, making it more complicated. Let’s consider some of them.

Factor 1: Type of Divorce

As mentioned above, couples in Georgia can choose between two options: uncontested and contested. An uncontested divorce is available to spouses who manage to reach a full agreement concerning child custody and support, alimony, property division, etc., before starting the action. Even if you have begun the process and still cannot reach a consensus, you have an opportunity to resolve these issues through mediation rather than bringing them to court.

If the disputes between you and your spouse cannot be resolved out of court, you will definitely need to hire lawyers and prepare for trials. Attorneys claim that contested divorce proceedings can last up to 3 years in the worst-case scenario.

Factor 2: Level of Conflict

The good news is that even if your divorce is contested, you still have a chance to finalize it in several months if both you and your spouse show willingness to cooperate. At almost any point of contested divorce proceedings, a couple can negotiate and create a Settlement Agreement. If it appears fair to all parties, the judge will approve it. Besides, some cases require less time to be processed by the court due to their relative straightforwardness.

However, if the level of hostility between the spouses does not allow them to negotiate, the trials can last for a really long time until the judge gets acquainted with all evidence, testimonies, and other details and makes the final decision concerning all the matters of the case.

Factor 3: Child Custody Disputes

Child custody disputes are one of the biggest issues in a divorce that can delay case finalization for years. When dealing with its nuances, judges consider the bond a child has with each parent, the kid’s best interests, each parent’s financial situation and well-being, and many other details. Obviously, it takes a lot of time for the court to study all the information and make decisions.

Moreover, in an attempt to win the case, parents are allowed to testify, involve child custody experts and witnesses, and provide evidence during the trials. Gathering all the proof and inviting witnesses and professionals also take a lot of time, which extends the case greatly.

Factor 4: Dividing Property and Marital Assets

Spouses’ inability to agree on property and assets division also delays the whole divorce process. When a couple wants to deal with their marriage dissolution as fast as possible, they decide to divide their property on their own and present their plan to the court, where the judge ensures that it is fair and approves it.

If spouses struggle with this aspect, this decision is made by the judge. Since Georgia is an equitable division state, the court divides assets considering various factors, such as each party’s financial situation, age and health, contribution to the marriage, etc.

As a result, the division will not necessarily be 50/50 if the judge deems it unfair. Reviewing all the records and studying all the divorce details usually takes a lot of time. So, if you have problems dividing your family property, you should expect delays in the case finalization.

Factor 5: Having a Divorce Lawyer Involved

As a rule, considering the high costs of legal aid in the United States, if both spouses involve attorneys, it means they are going to have a contested divorce. If you decide to work with a lawyer, you need to be ready for several meetings with them to discuss your case and create a strategy for the trials before even going to court.

The problem is that it is extremely difficult to say how many consultations you will have and how often you should visit your attorney’s office. Finally, a well-experienced lawyer hired by your spouse may spot some issues they have probably missed, which can further delay the case and create some problems for you.

How to Make a Georgia Divorce Faster?

So, how quickly can you get a divorce if you do not want to spend thousands of dollars on a lawyer? In this case, you should definitely consider filing for divorce online. Please be advised that this option is only available if you seek an uncontested divorce.

When dealing with the steps of online marriage dissolution on their own, spouses often require help with paperwork. GAOnlineDivorce is a company that has been helping US couples with their papers for more than a decade. Working with a divorce paperwork preparation service has various benefits, including:

  • Easy and straightforward ordering process.
  • Detailed filing instructions.
  • Cheap option with no hidden fees.
  • Court-approved documents filled out for your specific case.
  • Customer support team ready to answer your questions regarding pricing policy and order timeline 24/7.