How Long is the Divorce
Process in Georgia?
How Long Does a Divorce Take in Georgia?
How long does a divorce take from start to finish? It can be as short as just over 30 days or it can take more than a year. Every divorce is unique and different so it’s difficult to predict an average amount of time.
Divorce can take time, and this can create stress for everyone involved. For this reason, many want to have a clear idea of how long a divorce will take from start to finish. While it is difficult to set a firm timeline, especially in a contested divorce, there are some regulations in the state of Georgia that define mandatory waiting periods and give some guidance as to timeline:
– Provided there is written consent from both parties agreeing to a hearing, a divorce in Georgia can be granted any time 31 days after either filing an Acknowledgement of Service or after service itself.
– If an action is unanswered, a divorce in Georgia can be granted any time 46 days after service. Exceptions include a court-ordered extension or if children are involved.
– If a divorce action is served via publication, a divorce in Georgia can be granted 61 days or more after the publication date.
– There is a statutory requirement that all discovery must be completed within 6 months from the time an answer to the divorce is filed.
All that being said, the timeline of a divorce still depends on several other factors, not the least of which is court availability. Court dockets are often overloaded and it can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days before you will be able to get into court.
Another factor that can extend the timeline of your divorce is the presence of children in your marriage. Making decisions in the best interest of any children involved is a priority in a divorce, and it can take time. Finally, if your divorce is contested and involves extensive litigation, this can extend the timeline dramatically, adding 12 months or more to a case in some situations.
The complexity of the divorce will affect the length.
Uncontested Divorce vs. Contested Divorce
How Long does an Uncontested Divorce Take?
The time required for an uncontested divorce to be processed in Georgia varies from case to case. It depends mostly on the details of your case and how cooperative can be in reaching a full agreement and signing the necessary documents.
Of course, it also depends on the court that is considering and approving the divorce. Some courts are better staffed or equipped and can handle divorce cases faster than other. But, regardless of the which court is actually handling any uncontested divorce matter, Georgia law requires a minimum waiting period of only 31 calendar days for uncontested divorces. That 31 day waiting period does not start until the uncontested divorce case is actually filed with the Clerk of Superior Court.
Divorce documents must be prepared, reviewed and signed by you and your spouse before the actual divorce is filed with the court. Obviously, the issues of property, debt and similar issues involved in the divorce (and how agreeable the couple is) can greatly affect how long it takes to prepare and sign a Settlement Agreement. If minor children are involved, the parties must agree to a Parenting Plan and Child Support as well. All this can take days or months — depending on your situation.
Once the 31 day waiting period for the divorce has expired, the judge may require a hearing. While many uncontested divorces do not require hearings, a judge can potentially require a hearing for any case. The hearing itself may only take an hour or less, but scheduling hearings can often take weeks or months if the court has a high caseload.
For all of the uncontested divorce cases that we handle, we make every legal effort to avoid an actual hearing. We don’t want to go to court any more than you do! But, the judge decides whether a hearing is required for any particular divorce case.
While we want to get all uncontested divorce matters completed as quickly as possible, our first responsibility to our clients is to “get it right.” We pride ourselves on high-quality work for a low flat fee on every uncontested divorce matter that we handle.
How Long Does Contested Divorce Take?
If the divorce is contested, meaning that there is a disagreement as to any matter pertaining to the divorce agreement, the divorce will be obtained once the case is heard, reviewed and decided by the court. In general, assuming thirty (30) days to have an answer filed, six (6) months of discovery, potential motions to be heard by a court prior to a trial being able to be granted and some additional time waiting for your final trial date, it is not uncommon for the entire process to take six (6) months to several years. In practice, the six (6) month discovery period is often extended by the parties to enable all relevant documents to be obtained and all relevant witnesses to be interviewed. This period may be further elongated if either party files additional motions, or seeks a continuance of the proceedings, or if the matters concerning the case, like child support, custody or alimony are passionately disputed. In addition, in child custody cases, there are often additional individuals involved in your case (such as GALs and custody evaluators) that may need additional time to perform their investigations and give their recommendations to the court.