In theory, 31 days is the quickest time it takes to get a divorce in Gwinnett County. In reality, that speed is rarely approached.
The divorce process gets lengthened when both spouses dispute matters like property division, spousal support and child custody. If you and your spouse can agree on all issues, you can get an uncontested divorce, which is the quickest way to legally end a marriage. But contested divorce is far more common, so you must be ready for divorce proceedings to take more time.
Under Georgia law, the court cannot grant a divorce within 30 days of service on the respondent. This means you have to wait at least 31 days from the day you served the papers to your spouse (the respondent) before your divorce can be finalized. This is mandatory even if you and your spouse have already signed the settlement agreement.
The smoothest divorces do not become final on the 32nd or 33rd day, because administrative issues and other minor delays usually occur. In my experience, an uncontested divorce in Gwinnett County may take about 45 days to be finalized. This is a rough average; your uncontested divorce may be a bit shorter or longer.
On the other hand, a contested divorce takes much longer than a month. Some last several months, and some even stretch to two or three years because of highly contentious issues. The length of the process varies widely because there are many different factors that make each divorce case unique.
The most basic steps in an uncontested divorce might be:
While the process seems quick and straightforward, there are details to it that will need you to sit down and take your time.
For one, the packet of forms that you have to fill out is usually around 40 pages long, asking for information far beyond your name and address. This includes your comprehensive financial information (income, assets and debts, household spending, and so on.) If you have children, you must provide a parenting plan as well. You’ll likely need to check your accounts, review your histories, and confer with your spouse so that you can provide honest information.
Next, it’s important to ensure that your papers are accurate and legally sound. A lawyer is valuable for this step. Your attorney can double-check the accuracy of your info, proofread every page, and make sure that they meet legal standards.
Above all, a good lawyer should examine at this point if you have better legal options or if there are problems that may arise down the road. For instance, do you have property that should be protected? Is your parenting plan ideal for you and your kids? It’s wise to at least consult with your lawyer even if you are confident that your spouse agrees with you on all divorce matters.
Once you and your attorney are satisfied with the documents, you and your spouse can then sign them and have them notarized. Then you may file the papers with the court clerk and wait for divorce finalization.
The reason that a contested divorce takes longer is that all disputed issues must be resolved first, and if the couple cannot find a resolution, the case will go to trial so that the judge can decide.
First, you must file the divorce petition with the court, then serve the initial documents to your spouse. The spouse will then have to respond, stating whether or not they agree with the various items in your petition. Typically, contested issues will be around child custody, child support, parenting time, spousal support, and property division.
The court will schedule a hearing for the judge to listen to both sides’ claims. But before this hearing, the judge may order you and your spouse to go through alternative dispute resolution, usually in the form of mediation. In this method, a mediator will facilitate discussions between you and your spouse, aiming to arrive at agreements on the disputed issues. Mediated divorce cases typically result in resolutions, so they don’t proceed to court litigation anymore.
The case goes to court if mediation does not work. At this point the divorce trial begins. The more difficult the disputes – or the more antagonistic the spouses – the longer the trial will take.
It’s ideal in a divorce that the spouses are cooperative and civil with each other. But we know that is not always the case. You’ll want to prepare for potential issues, and protect yourself legally with a reliable attorney.
If you’d like to complete your divorce in the most efficient way, or if you have concerns regarding your marital situation, call on Attorney Sharon Jackson. She has guided numerous clients to their best divorce steps, while protecting their rights and interests throughout the process.
Call Attorney Sharon Jackson today at (678)436-3636 to schedule your consultation. You may also contact her through online form.
Attorney Sharon Jackson LLC
175 Langley Drive, Suite A1
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
Phone: (678) 909-4100
Fax: (678) 281-0482