What You Should Know About Georgia’s Divorce Process

Facing a divorce can leave you feeling overwhelmed with your circumstances and unsure about what to expect from the upcoming process.

To help offer some clarity about the divorce process in Georgia, we’re shedding light on the general steps of a divorce. Yours may deviate from the following steps, but these are the general steps you can expect:

Steps to Divorce in Georgia

1. One of the Spouses Must File for Divorce

The divorce process begins when one spouse files a divorce complaint. In order to file, either you or your spouse must be a resident of Georgia for at least six months. Additionally, the filing spouse must file with the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county in which they or their spouse currently resides.


  • If you and your spouse are both long-time residents of the same county in Georgia and would like to file for divorce, you must file with said county’s superior court.
  • If you are a Georgia resident who now lives in a different county from your spouse and would like to file for divorce, you need to file in the superior court of the county in which your spouse lives.
  • If you live in Florida, your spouse has lived in Georgia for at least six months, and you would like to file for divorce in Georgia, you must file within the county your spouse lives in.

2. Your Petition Must Include the Legal Grounds for Your Divorce

When you file for divorce, you are required to provide a reason, or the grounds, for your divorce.

There are 13 grounds for divorce in Georgia, which include:

  • Adultery
  • Criminal conviction
  • Cruel treatment
  • Desertion
  • Forced or deceptive marriage
  • Habitual alcohol addiction
  • Habitual drug addiction
  • Impotence
  • Incurable mental illness
  • Intermarriage (closely related individuals)
  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Mental incapacity at the time of marriage
  • Pregnancy by someone other than the husband

Georgia is a no-fault state, meaning that there does not have to be specific grounds for your divorce. “Irreconcilable differences” is vague and open-ended, but it is also enough of a reason to file.

3. Your Petition Must Outline Your General Terms of Divorce

Whoever files with the court will need to state in general terms what they want out of the divorce. It is up to the responding spouse to either agree to the terms stated in the divorce or disagree.

Divorcing couples must agree on a number of issues relating to their marriage, including:

  • Equitable division of marital property
  • Child custody, visitation, and child support
  • Alimony, or spousal support

The responding spouse will need to file an answer with the Court. If and when the parties agree on the terms of the settlement, then a Settlement Agreement will need to be drafted, signed, and filed.

When there is disagreement between the parties as to how to resolve their divorce, both parties will need to work together through mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to reach an agreement. If an agreement ultimately cannot be reached, the couple will have to enter litigation, where a judge will decide the terms of the divorce.

Spouses have 30 days to respond after being served with divorce papers. Should the responding spouse not file an Answer or an Answer and Counterclaim to the divorce complaint, the divorce will still move forward; however, the responding spouse could weaken their position and may not receive what they want in the divorce.

4. You and Your Spouse Should Try to Reach a Settlement

To divorce in Georgia, if the parties want to avoid a trial, couples are required to provide a settlement agreement that details the specifics of the terms of the divorce.

In an uncontested divorce, the couple negotiates the terms of the agreement together outside of court, often before ever filing for divorce.

In a contested divorce, the couple will often need help reaching a settlement agreement. The settlement process can become complex, prolonging the time it takes to secure a final divorce decree.

Divorce settlements can be reached through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceedings, the most common options for divorce being mediation and arbitration.

ADR for divorce can involve:

  • MediationIn mediation, both spouses meet with their legal team and an impartial mediator to work through disputes and hopefully reach an agreement that both parties can get behind.
  • Arbitration – Similar to litigation, both spouses will argue their case to an impartial third party who will provide a final verdict. This is best for a couple that wants to keep the facts of their divorce private but who cannot reach an agreement through mediation.
  • Collaborative divorce – a collaborative divorce involves the spouses, each of their attorneys, and any necessary experts—financial specialists, child specialists, divorce coaches, etc.— coming together to reach resolutions.

If any of the alternative processes for reaching a divorce settlement fail, the couple will have to proceed to litigation, where the power to make decisions is taken from the couple and given to the court. The judge will have the ultimate say over the final ruling and divorce decree.

5. You and Your Spouse Will Receive a Final Divorce Decree

Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested or whether you proceed to litigation, the final step is receiving your divorce decree.

  • Uncontested divorce—The couple must file their petition, settlement agreement, and all other necessary paperwork with the county’s superior court. There is a 31-day hold to give the couple time to change their minds and reconcile. After the 31 days have passed, the judge will then sign the Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce.
  • Contested divorce (mediation or ADR) – Mediation and other ADR processes can vary in length for several reasons. It can take weeks or months to arrange meetings, gather crucial documents or evidence, and reach agreements. However, once the couple has a written settlement agreement, they can file it with the court and ask the judge to sign the Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce.
  • Contested divorce (litigation) – Litigation is another process that can vary in time from a few months to even a few years. The more complex the case, the longer it will likely take to gather evidence, present the evidence, and reach a final decision. However, once the final hearing has taken place, the judge will announce their final decision, and a divorce decree will be drafted.

Whether your divorce process is simple or complex, you deserve a team like Platt Family Law on your side that will advocate for you at every step.

Couples facing contested or even uncontested divorces receive exceptional support, guidance, and advocacy from our firm’s all-female family law attorneys. We diligently represent our clients through their divorce and provide clear guidance as we navigate the path toward a final divorce decree.

Schedule a consultation with our firm today to discuss your case: 404-255-3434

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