Once you have decided you are ready to petition for divorce from your estranged spouse, knowing the proper steps to take is essential. It is also in your best interests to have legal support to guide you through the process. Divorce can get sticky and complicated. However, having a divorce attorney on your side and a clear understanding of the proper steps will give you peace of mind and confidence as you move forward.
In Georgia, there are residency requirements. You or your spouse must live within the state for at least six months before filing the petition. Since your spouse is estranged, there is a chance they are living out of state. If you have lived in the state for six months, you can file in Georgia.
Below are the basic steps you will need to take to petition for divorce from your estranged spouse:
Identify the grounds for divorce.
When filing this formal petition, you will tell the court exactly why you want a divorce. There are specific reasons the law considers legal grounds for divorce. In Georgia, there are 12 legal grounds, each with specific legal qualifications that you must meet to claim the particular ground for divorce.
In your petition, state precisely what you want the court to do.
When you file, you must state which of the 12 reasons you are asking the court to grant the divorce, but you must also carefully state what you are asking the court to do. For example, do you want child support, child custody, or a specific property division? Carefully make your requests known in the petition during this time.
Be prepared to pay your filing fees and know where to file.
You can expect to pay a fee for filing your petition, and you will file this in the local county court where your estranged spouse resides. If your spouse has moved out of state, you file in your county. Or you can file in the county where you lived together if your spouse moved to another county within six months of the date you are filing.
What If You Don’t Know Where Your Spouse Is?
If you do not know where your estranged spouse is, you can still file your petition for divorce after making an effort to locate them. You must tell the court that you tried to find your spouse. This will need to be a signed statement (also known as an affidavit) in which you swear to the best of your knowledge that you do not know where your spouse is, swear you have used reasonable diligence in attempting to find them and provide the last known address of your estranged spouse.
Filing a Petition for Divorce: Get Help or Do It Alone?
Maybe your petition for divorce is cut and dry. Or, you may need clarification about which grounds for divorce suit your situation. Either way, it helps to have legal support as you go through the process.
Of course, it is possible to represent yourself in court and petition for divorce without legal support. Most forms and instructions on filing your petition are found in your local clerk’s office or a library. However, having legal support will provide clarification and help you ensure you follow the steps correctly.
Are you seeking more information about how to petition for divorce in Georgia? Our Alpharetta team of attorneys is here to help. Need help with your petition for divorce? Call Reeder Law Firm today at (770) 475-2521 for a free consultation.