There is a lot of confusion and misconceptions about the entire divorce process. While everyone understands that a divorce ends a marriage, very few people understand the basic concepts that are in place when seeking a divorce. From a big picture point of view, in Atlanta, Georgia, a divorce really is as simple as making determinations involving four primary areas. These areas, along with links to further information about each area, are listed below.
- Equitable division of property - This part of the divorce process focuses on trying to obtain a fair division of marital assets between the parties. Several key items that are considered as part of this process are what marital property is and how it should be divided.
- Child custody and visitation - This item obviously decides who should have custody of any minor children and what the visitation time should be for the non-custodial parent. Less obvious, this section also involves how decisions regarding a child’s health, education, extra-curricular, and religious decisions are made.
- Child support - Child support is the legally required amount of money the non-custodial parent must pay to the custodial parent to help with their child(ren)’s financial needs.
- Alimony - Alimony is the amount of money that one parent must pay to the other parent to financially help that parent with their transition at the end of the marriage. There are several forms of alimony that exist and the amount and length of alimony is usually dependent upon the basic concept of needs of one party versus the ability of the other party to pay.
Each of these four concepts can be fairly complex, in and of themselves, which is why it is recommended that the parties seek the advice of an experienced divorce attorney, like those at Meriwether & Tharp, LLC, to help guide them through these decisions and present them with as many options as possible for trying to find mutually agreeable ways of handling these complicated and life altering decisions.
Procedurally, a divorce starts with the filing of a complaint which is then served upon the other spouse. The spouse that was served with the notice of the divorce has thirty (30) days to a response. Once the answer is filed, the parties begin what is generally known as the discovery period where each party has the ability to ask written and oral questions to the other spouse (as well as third parties) about information related to the divorce action. Also, the discovery period allows each spouse to request to see various documents that are in the possession of the other spouse or third parties.
At the conclusion of the discovery process, the Court hears various motions filed by the parties and schedules the case for a final trial (with or without a jury). Once the final trial occurs, the court (or jury as appropriate) then makes a final ruling addressing each of four major areas listed above. Of course, at any point along the way, the parties are free to try and decide any or all of the issues themselves, without being told by a judge or jury how they should handle their lives, and there are various alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in place, such as mediation and arbitration, to help the parties amicably resolve their differences.
You can rely on Meriwether & Tharp to guide you through difficult divorce and family law situations. To speak to a member of our team, you can call our office or e-mail us to schedule an appointment to meet with someone on our family law team.