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Divorce in Georgia: Does it matter who files first?

| May 27, 2017 | Divorce, Family Law |

Divorcing couple paperwork header image

It is not necessarily a good idea to rush to file for divorce, but there may be some benefits to filing first for those persons contemplating divorce. Furthermore, Forbes Magazine has recently attracted a great deal of attention by outlining these benefits.

It is important to realize Georgia recognizes 13 causes for divorce. The majority of petitions stating the cause as the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

Being the first to file for divorce comes with the following benefits:

  • Being able to select the best professionals available.
  • Additional time to prepare documentation.
  • Reducing the possibility of the ex-spouse trying to hide assets.

In several instances, consulting an attorney before filing for divorce in Georgia will result in time and money saved during the court process. Identifying the most suitable professionals can take some time. More importantly, along with a qualified divorce attorney, a therapist may be helpful in providing guidance through the experience, which can be quite emotional and traumatic. A divorce financial analyst may be helpful for situations involving a complex mix of assets or a business.

Preparing your divorce documents and paperwork

All necessary paperwork should be gathered in preparation for the finalization of the divorce. Several documents are required to ensure that the outcome of the divorce is a fair settlement.

These documents include:

  • health insurance documents (for the cost to insure minor children)
  • work-related child care costs documents
  • tax returns
  • income documents
  • details on stocks and retirement plans
  • credit card and loan statements

Standing order

Standing orders provide protection for the assets throughout the divorce proceeding. A Standing Order orders the parties not to transfer any property rights, bank accounts or insurance documents, except in the ordinary course of business. A Standing Order may also prohibit parties from changing beneficiary(ies) on insurance policies. A Standing Order may also prohibit canceling utilities and insurance policies. A Standing Order may also prohibit removing the minor children from the jurisdiction of the Court, except in certain limited circumstances

Standing Orders are to prevent parties from destroying assets to prevent access from another spouse. If you are the first to commence filing, then the protection begins before the other spouse is able to hide any assets.

The divorce petition

After the court receives the filed petition or complaint, the process begins. Consequently, the divorce petition includes the reason for the divorce, requests regarding custody and request regarding assets and debts.  The petition is filed in the Superior Court and is usually filed in the county of the non-filing spouse.

It is important to realize Georgia recognizes 13 grounds for divorce. The majority of petitions stating the cause cite the “irretrievably broken” ground as the basis for the divorce. Additionally, other causes which can serve as grounds for the granting of a divorce, include adultery, habitual drug addiction and cruel treatment.

The process is not an easy one, whether it is the process of filing for a divorce or being in receipt of the divorce paperwork from a spouse. Above all, an experienced family law attorney can make the process quick and painless.