Filing for divorce in Georgia seems easy when you have a lawyer representing your interests. Most divorce lawyers in Albany take over all the hassles. Their clients only have to sign the papers, make decisions, and, in some cases, attend the court hearings.
Most people have no idea how complex the divorce process really is. That is why, when faced with the perspective of hiring a divorce lawyer, they are tempted to refuse. The best way to see whether legal services are worth paying for is to review the divorce process. We will do that in the following lines.
The Divorce Process without the Help of an Attorney
Here are the steps you have to follow when seeking divorce without the assistance of an Albany divorce lawyer:
1. Divorce Procedure Commencement
It all begins with the Petition for Divorce and Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce. You have to file it with the Superior Court Clerk’s Office. In it, you have to detail your reasons for seeking divorce.
Upon submitting the petition, you will pay a fee. From the Clerk’s Office, you will receive a case number. You will need it for future procedures and whenever you have questions about your case.
- Spouse Notification
No matter if you and your spouse have talked about it, you have to officially notify them about the divorce. It is called Service of Process and you may fulfill it through:
- Personal service
- Process server
- The Sheriff’s Office
- Certified mail
- Newspaper notice (only with court approval, when you cannot locate your spouse)
3. Answer to Divorce Notification
Your spouse will have 30 days from receiving the notification to submit an answer. If they do not answer within this period, they basically waive their right to a hearing. The judge will most likely approve all your demands.
In order to obtain the divorce decree, you will have to file a few more documents:
- Statement of Disclosure
- Domestic Relations Case Filing Information Form
- Divorce, Annulment, or Marriage Dissolution Report
- Service Acknowledgement and Consent to Jurisdiction or a Sheriff’s Service Entry
A final hearing will take place, during which the judge will sign the Final Judgment and Decree.
If your spouse does provide an answer, the process will depend on their answer. If they agree with your demands, your divorce is uncontested. Upon your submission of the above documents, the judge will issue the Final Judgment and Decree.
4. Petition Contestation and Counter Claim
Your spouse may also contest your petition or file a Counter Claim. If that happens, your case will go to trial. If you want, you may request a jury trial. Otherwise, a judge will make the decisions in your case.
5. From Mediation to Court and Final Judgment and Decree
If they think it would help you reach an agreement, the judge may recommend mediation. You and your spouse may opt to see a mediator as well. These are neutral third parties who can help the spouses reach an agreement. Their services could be a cost-saving alternative to a court trial for a contested divorce.
Contested divorces can last for months and involve several court sessions. They may involve complex investigations, witness interviews, and piles of documents and subpoenas. The costs can reach thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars.
The stake is huge as well. Depending on the spouses’ financial situation and on whether they have children, the judge will also rule regarding:
- Distribution of marital property
- Spousal support
- Child custody and support
If you do not play your cards right, you risk losing your children, your property, and your money. Besides, the divorce process would take its toll on you, consuming a lot of your time and energy.
You have to admit that it is much easier and more convenient to work with an Albany divorce lawyer. They will take over all the hassles, putting their knowledge and experience in your service and informing you of their progress.
Make an Appointment with An Albany Divorce Lawyer
Do you need help filing for divorce and negotiating issues like asset distribution, child custody, or alimony? You will find it at the law firm of Joe Durham Jr. All you have to do is call our law offices at (229) 351-5320 and make an appointment. The first consultation is free and it is your best chance to find out where you stand.