What Can Someone Do To Prepare For An Impending Divorce?
The first thing you really should do is speak with an attorney, because there are indeed, sometimes, things you might want to do before filing for divorce to better posture yourself and your case, not only with regard to financial issues, but also with regard to custody issues. Once a divorce complaint has been filed and served, there are certain laws that kick in that prohibit you from making unusual changes or moves to your finances and property. There might be some changes to your assets that an attorney would recommend you make prior to filing.
Are There Advantages And Disadvantages To Filing For A Divorce Before Your Spouse?
I get that question a lot. I would say the only big difference technically and legally is that whenever you go to court for a hearing, the first to file (called the plaintiff or petitioner) normally presents their witnesses and evidence first, to be followed by the second person (the defendant or respondent). Does that make a difference in the end? Usually not – the judges know to wait and hear both sides before making a decision, and normally juries know that as well. Sometimes a client does not want to be first to file for moral reasons, because they truly do not want a divorce. And I tell them that’s okay, though in the end, if one person asks for it, they will get it – one spouse objecting to a divorce will not prevent it from going through.
What Is The Process Step By Step In How An Uncontested Divorce Generally Proceeds In GA?
First, let’s be clear about those terms “contested” and “uncontested,” which get thrown around a lot by judges, lawyers and clients. My definition of “uncontested” is that you and your spouse agree on every single issue. If you don’t, that means a judge or a jury will have to decide the one or more issues that you do not agree upon, which means you will still have a contested hearing at some point. Sometimes I get a client who will say, “we agree on custody, just not the money, so isn’t that uncontested still?” The answer is absolutely not. You still have a battle to fight in court, then.
Normally, an uncontested divorce means the parties reach an agreement before either side files their complaint for divorce. They lay out all the terms in a Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement, which is a fancy name for a contract. That contract will lay out everything they agree to regarding the four main issues that exist in most divorces, which are child custody, child support, alimony and division of property and debts. There are other documents that need to accompany that agreement when there are children involved, and those are a Parenting Plan (which outlines the custody and visitation terms) and a Child Support Order with Child Support Worksheets, which outlines who pays who how much for child support.
I have people ask sometimes why it still costs a bit to do an uncontested divorce, and when I explain to them all the required documents to get one done and done properly, they start to understand. The required documents include:
- a domestic relations civil action filing information sheet
- a Rule 3.2 certificate
- a complaint for divorce
- an acknowledgement and waiver of service
- a spousal statement and acknowledgement of rights
- a domestic relations stipulation
- a consent final judgment and decree
- a Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement
- A Permanent Parenting Plan
- A Child Support Order Addendum
- one or more Child Support Worksheets
- a Domestic Relations Case Final Disposition Information Form
- A Georgia Report of Divorce form
- and, if division of retirement accounts is involved, you will need a QDRO or Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or, for military retirement division, a Military Retired Pay Division Order
- and, if real property is involved, you may need a quitclaim deed
So, even a so called “uncontested” divorce can be pretty involved.
More to the point, I cannot tell how many times people who did their own divorce have come to me after the fact to fix problems with what they did, or more often, regarding issues and matters they failed to address in their homemade divorce paperwork. As an example, I have a current client who failed to address the marital home, property, in the divorce. He’s had the house, been living in and paying on it for years since they did their own divorce, and now, because the ex-wife’s name is still on the property, she has come back wanting half of the equity in it. So now he is in a conundrum and having to spend money to fight over this issue when a little money invested in an attorney at the beginning to do the divorce correctly would have saved heartache and money.
For more information on Preparing For An Impending Divorce, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (912) 662-5555 today.
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