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Divorce – Uncontested or Contested

UNDERSTANDING YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS

Since 1988, Penny Rumsey has represented clients in various family law matters, including divorce, child custody, child support, property and debt division, alimony, and adoption. Often, family law cases are stressful on the entire family, and it is important to obtain a lawyer that is sensitive to the emotional issues surrounding these matters, while also being knowledgeable and current on Georgia family law. It is of paramount importance to have a lawyer interested in solving your domestic relations problem in a manner that protects your present and future rights.

PROTECTING YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS

UNCONTESTED DIVORCES

Sometimes, married couples are able to reach an agreement as to how their assets and debts are to be divided, which spouse will have primary custody of their minor children, and how much child support and alimony, if any, will be paid.  This is referred to as an uncontested divorce.

With the current requirements of Georgia law, even obtaining an uncontested divorce almost always requires one of the parties to hire a family law attorney to properly draft and present the necessary documents to the court for a final decree. Depending on the facts of the case, Georgia law may require a financial affidavit, a child support worksheet, a parenting plan, and a settlement agreement or consent order covering child support payments and other financial and property division issues. Preparing these documents so they will be acceptable to the court, while avoiding unintended consequences, requires attention to detail and knowledge of the law.

CONTESTED DIVORCES

When the spouses cannot agree to the terms of their divorce, their divorce is considered contested.  In contested divorce cases, the Divorce Petition may be filed by either of the spouses seeking a divorce. Thereafter, an Answer to the Petition is filed by the responding spouse.  What the law refers to as discovery is then engaged in by the attorneys for the spouses. In discovery, documents including financial information and evidence as to the possible causes of the break up of the marriage are asked for, and such information is exchanged between the parties. Both parties seek such information in discovery to establish and support their postion on the issues involved in their case.

DISCOVERY IN A CONTESTED DIVORCE

Discovery is allowed of all information that may be relevant to the issues in the divorce, including the cause of the divorce, child custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, property and debt division, and attorneys fees. For example, if adultery is alleged as one of the causes for the ending of the marriage, then emails between the spouse and others possibly involved in such a relationship would be subject to discovery by the opposing spouse. This is just one example of many areas of inquiry during discovery in a divorce case. Having experienced counsel that understands the process, what discovery is reasonable and permitted, and what battles to fight during the discovery process protects your interests and results in either a thoughtful settlement or a case that is well prepared for trial.

 SETTLEMENT OR TRIAL OF A CONTESTED DIVORCE

After discovery has been completed, the divorce case is ready for trial. Prior to trial, the parties generally mediate their case before a neutral who tries to assist the parties in reaching an agreement where that is possible. In most instances, the parties do settle their case with or without a mediation. When they cannot reach an agreement, the trial is the next step in the process.

RETAIN EXPERIENCED COUNSEL

Although most divorce cases do settle before trial, having an attorney that is experienced in trying divorce cases is important if your divorce is one of the few that proceeds to trial.  It is also important to have experienced trial counsel to increase your chances of obtaining a thoughtful settlement of your case without a trial. Please contact Penny Rumsey at Rumsey & Ramsey at (770) 394-9400 to discuss your divorce case or other family law inquiry.

 Discovery is allowed on all information that may be relevant to the issues in the divorce, including the cause of the divorce, child custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, property and debt division, and attorneys fees. For example, if adultery is alleged as one of the causes for the ending of the marriage, then emails between the spouse and others possibly involved in such a relationship would be subject to discovery by the opposing spouse. This is just one example of many areas of inquiry during discovery in a divorce case. Having experienced counsel that understands the process, what discovery is reasonable and permitted, and what battles to fight during the discovery process protects your interests and results in either a thoughtful settlement or a case that is well prepared for trial.

   After discovery has been completed, the divorce case is ready for trial. Prior to trial, the parties generally mediate their case before a neutral who tries to assist the parties in reaching an agreement where that is possible. In most instances, the parties do settle their case with or without a mediation. When they cannot reach an agreement, the trial is the next step in the process. 

    

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