Here are some tips to help you quickly finalize your divorce:
1) Talk to your spouse
This may seem like a waste of time. After all, lack of communication is among the most common causes of divorce. But if you want to get divorced quickly (and save money in the process), you should to talk to your spouse at the beginning of the process and discuss where you are headed. By far, the quickest route to finalize a divorce is to enter into a settlement agreement with your spouse settling all issues from your divorce.
Even if an agreement is not likely, a conversation still should occur. Granted, due to safety concerns or complete erosion of communication in the marriage, sometimes this is not possible. If this is possible, you should find out if your spouse also wants a divorce and gauge how much your spouse is going to fight you over the issues. Knowing this from the beginning can help your attorney anticipate evidence needed and begin fighting and strategically planning to move your case along to a faster resolution.
2) Gather documents and begin a list of assets and debts
Whether the parties are substantially in agreement or are on vastly different pages on the way they want to resolve their divorce, the lawyer will need paperwork and information about your assets, debts and income to resolve the case. Obtaining and organizing these documents early on so they are ready when your attorney needs them is the single best way to move your divorce along quicker. If you anticipate a contested divorce, you want to obtain all documents you can early to reduce the risk of documents disappearing after you file for divorce.
Discovery, a process where parties can obtain documents or evidence from the other party, can take six months or longer in Georgia. If you are able to obtain most of the paperwork yourself in the beginning, you have cut months out of the equation.
3) Hire an attorney
Although you can get divorced without an attorney, hiring an attorney can greatly accelerate the process. Even in an uncontested divorce, Georgia law requires very specific forms to finalize a divorce. A judge will not finalize your case if any of the forms are missing or inaccurate. Hiring an attorney early allows her to begin preparing your case for resolution whether it is contested or uncontested.
4) Listen to your attorney
You pay your attorney a lot of money to do the best job she can for you. You do not pay your attorney to tell you what you want to hear. Hiring an attorney then failing to listen to her is a waste of time, a waste of money and can greatly hinder and slow your divorce. When your attorney gives you advice-follow it, no matter how much you may dislike it. If you do not, you may have just prolonged the process by months.
5) Consider mediation
If you and your spouse can not agree to all of the terms of your divorce, consider an attempt to resolve the case outside of court through mediation. Mediation allows a third party, who represents neither you nor your spouse, to help you and your spouse resolve your case by resolving your disagreements. Mediation helps parties move off of unreasonable or emotionally driven positions. Most cases will settle at mediation, so no matter how contentious your case is, give mediation a try with an open mind. Mediation can usually occur before a court date. If your case settles at mediation, your divorce could be finalized as soon as the same day.
6) Have realistic expectations
While technically a divorce can be finalized in Georgia thirty one days after you file, not every divorce can or should be resolved that quickly. A good attorney will not let your divorce case linger with no action, but sometimes taking the time to investigate and fight for what is fair may result in a better outcome for you in the long run. Once your divorce is final, it is final. There is no buyer’s remorse. Rushing into a final divorce decree or settlement and hoping to fix it later is the wrong idea.
No matter how badly you want to move forward with your life, do not accept a bad settlement in order to do so. Some divorces take time: time for one party to fully investigate the assets, debts, and income of the other party; time for one party to compile their evidence to present in the light most favorable to them at trial; or time for one party to come to terms with the divorce and stop fighting over the trivial items just to fight. Time can be emotionally taxing and stressful, but sometimes, time resolves the issue in a far better way than forcing a resolution early on.
Amanda Speights is a co-founder and lead family law attorney at Speights Law, PC in Cherokee County. She is an experienced family law lawyer who handles an assortment of domestic cases, including divorce, child custody, child support, appeals and other types of litigation in the state of Georgia. To contact Amanda, please visit our contact page.