At the Dixon Law Office, we understand that a divorce can be the most turbulent time a client’s life.  Every aspect of your current life suddenly feels turned upside down.  Our job is to guide you through the process, educate you at every step along the way, and create a plan that is best for you, your children, and your future.  

Generally speaking, there are two broad categories of divorce:  contested and uncontested.  Both may involve issues such as marital property division; assessing whether spousal support or alimony will be awarded; and establishing child custody, visitation, and child support.  

Under Georgia law, there are 13 grounds for divorce.  That includes 12 fault based grounds and the one “no fault” based ground called irreconcilable differences.  The fault based grounds allow you to assert that the divorce is the other party’s fault, and they may include reasons such as adultery, habitual intoxication, mental cruelty, desertion, etc.  Irreconcilable differences, on the other hand, essentially means that you and your spouse no longer get along and you don’t wish to be married any longer.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce is on where both you and your spouse agree on all of the terms of the divorce.  So, for example, if you own a house that was purchased during the marriage, and you have children, then the division of the house, child custody, visitation, and child support will all be issues.  Additionally, you or your spouse may desire alimony.  In an uncontested divorce, you will have already come to an agreement with your spouse about these sorts of issues.  Usually, a separation agreement is drafted, signed, and incorporated into the final divorce decree.  However, there are a lot of pitfalls with an uncontested divorce, and it is highly recommended that you speak to an attorney before signing anything.

What is a Contested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce is one where the parties have not reached an agreement as to all of the issues.  In other words, there’s a fight about who gets the house, who pays the debt, who receives alimony, who gets child custody, etc.  In a contested divorce, you will need to learn facts about your spouse’s financial and employment situation, and they’ll need to do the same.  This is called “discovery.”  Discovery is conducted by submitting formal requests to one another.  However, a tremendous amount of strategy goes into the form of such requests and responses.  

At the end of the day, a contested divorce is a lawsuit of sorts.  Your ultimate right is to have a jury hear the case and decide (1) whether a divorce should be granted, and (2) who gets what.  It should be noted, though, that only judges, not juries, can make determinations with respect to child custody and child support.  With that said, it is important that a divorce is approached from the perspective that the case may ultimately wind up before a jury.  This is why you need someone with litigation experience at your table.  

What is a Temporary Hearing?

Ultimately, a divorce is finalized when the judge enters a final decree.  That decree makes a final decision on issues such as property division, alimony, child custody, visitation, and child support.  However, divorces are rarely wrapped up within just a few months.  So, the parties need some marching orders in the meantime to determine how to handle life’s daily battles.  In those situations, a judge can enter a temporary order to help keep the status quo until a final divorce decree is entered.  Often times, the parties can agree to the terms of a temporary order.  If so, then the proposed order is presented to the judge for signature, and the parties know how to handle business until the final decree is entered.  Sometimes, though, the parties cannot agree to a temporary order, and a temporary hearing is required.  At this hearing, the parties will argue their respective positions, and the judge will decide which provisions to include in the temporary order.

Need Help?

Needless to say, a divorce can be a daunting process, and it’s okay to Ask for Help. If you are in the midst of a divorce or are just considering the idea, don’t hesitate to call (912) 525-0555 to schedule your initial consultation. Brad Dixon offers one hour consultations for $100, and if our office is retained to handle your case, that money is applied towards the balance of your next bill, such that your evaluation is free.

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