How to Answer Divorce Complaints in Georgia

By Wayne Thomas

Being served with divorce paperwork can be a stressful experience. These documents are often difficult to understand and you may be left confused and unsure about how and when to respond. Knowing how to properly answer a divorce complaint in Georgia will help ensure that you are able to exercise all your rights in the divorce.

Initiating a Divorce

To start a divorce in Georgia, you or your spouse needs to first file a complaint. The complaint indicates the reason for the divorce, also known as the grounds for divorce, and includes information about the marriage, as well as specifics regarding property, child custody and support issues. After your spouse files the complaint, she must have a sheriff personally deliver a copy of the document to you, along with a summons. A summons is a court order that requires you to participate in the divorce. It also tells you which court to file in, and it specifies your initial obligations.

Answer Form

Georgia law requires that you file a written answer no later than 30 days after receiving the complaint. You may obtain fill-in-the-blank answer forms from the court clerk. The document first requests that you go through every claim made by your spouse in the complaint, and indicate whether you believe each statement to be true, untrue, or that you do not have enough information to make a determination. If you believe a statement is partially true, you must specify why.

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Counterclaims

You may also include counterclaims in your answer. A counterclaim is a request to the court that is additional or contrary to your spouse's requests. For example, if your spouse made a claim for sole custody of your children, you may decide to make a counterclaim for sole custody. Once the answer is complete and signed, it may be filed with the appropriate court. After filing, Georgia law requires that you must provide a copy to your spouse by mail.

Next Steps

After the court has received your answer, the case can move forward. The next step often involves hearings to establish temporary orders for support, custody, and property matters that last, until the divorce is finalized. If you and your spouse can reach an agreement before your case goes to trial, you may submit the agreement to the court for approval. If not, you will need to go to trial and present your case. At the end of the trial, the judge will make a ruling declaring you divorced, and resolving all other divorce-related matters.

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Documents Needed for the Respondents in a Divorce Summons

References

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How to Contest a Divorce in the State of Michigan

If your spouse filed for divorce in the state of Michigan, you cannot contest the divorce itself as Michigan, like all other states, recognizes no-fault divorces. However, if there are issues of child custody, property division or alimony you want to contest, you can. To do so, you must act within 21 days of receiving service of the divorce petition. If you do not act within that time, your spouse might be eligible for a default judgment.

Responding to a Divorce by Certified Mail

If your spouse files a divorce petition to initiate divorce proceedings, you must respond to this petition by the deadline to avoid a default judgment. You may file your answer in person with the court clerk or by certified mail. You must also submit a copy of your answer to your spouse or his attorney by certified mail.

When Can You Make a Claim for Alimony?

The sharing of finances is fundamental to most marriages. When parties divorce, the court is tasked with ensuring that, if possible, each spouse continues the same standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. If you and your spouse have vastly different earning capacities, the court may order the higher earner to pay a support amount to the lower earner. This is known as alimony, and understanding when it may be requested can ensure that you remain financially solvent during and after your divorce.

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