Filing for a divorce in Georgia can be expensive if you hire an attorney to assist you. Depending on the complexity of your case, however, you may be able to do it yourself. In Georgia, the superior court in each county has jurisdiction over divorce matters. Before you can begin the divorce process, you need to familiarize yourself with the court procedures of your county and the fundamental concepts of Georgia divorce law.
Georgia Superior Courts
The initial step in any Georgia divorce is identifying the court that has jurisdiction over your case. The Georgia superior courts establish jurisdiction over divorce cases through the residency of the parties. If you are the one initiating the divorce proceedings, you must file a petition for divorce in the county where your wife currently resides if different from the county where you shared a marital home. However, if your wife leaves the county within six months after the petition is filed, you can initiate the case in the county of your former marital home.
Once you determine the appropriate superior court, you should access its website to obtain procedural information. In Fulton County, for example, the courthouse website publishes a comprehensive document that provides step-by-step instructions for obtaining a divorce and includes a list of forms you may need to file, all of which are available on the courthouse website. Most counties in Georgia will publish similar divorce instructions that make it possible to handle your divorce without legal assistance.
File and Deliver Petition
As is the case with any lawsuit, you must file a petition or complaint with the clerk of the court to officially begin the divorce proceedings. All courts will require that you provide your wife with notice of the petition and file proof of service with the court. In Fulton County, for example, you have two options for completing the notice requirement. If your wife intends to cooperate with the divorce proceedings, you can have her sign an acknowledgment confirming receipt of the petition. However, if your current relationship with your wife is contentious or she is contesting the divorce, you can have the county sheriff serve the petition on her instead. Once the sheriff completes this service of process, he will sign a statement attesting to delivery of the petition that you can file with the court.
Uncontested by Spouse
If your wife isn’t contesting the divorce, meaning that you both consent to the divorce on no-fault grounds, and you both agree on all issues such as child custody, child support payments, the division of marital assets and alimony payments, handling the divorce yourself without an attorney will save you a substantial amount in legal fees. Moreover, the lack of complexity can allow you to finalize the divorce in as little as 31 days. However, if the divorce is contested, the complexity of the Georgia divorce proceedings may require the assistance of an attorney.