Many people would prefer a divorce with no conflicts. Some divorcing couples can resolve their disagreements and reach a final settlement through mediation or settlement negotiations. However, if you and your spouse cannot agree on some of the issues in your divorce, you will have to take the divorce to trial. Here are a few keys to understand if you’re facing a divorce trial in Georgia.
Bench Trials vs. Jury Trials
Most divorce trials are bench trials—requiring a judge to make the final decisions on all the pending issues. In unique cases, the parties may have a trial by jury on all issues except for child custody and parenting time. In Georgia, only a judge can make custody decisions.
Divorce trials vary
Depending on the issues, your divorce may take different courses through Georgia’s legal system. A contested divorce, involving a high-asset couple with children, presents a more complex case than a dispute over alimony that does not involve kids.
In Georgia state law, there are 12 grounds for an at-fault divorce and one ground for no-fault divorce. The no-fault divorce means the marriage is simply broken and requires no evidence to support a claim (that does not mean the case is necessarily uncontested). However, if you’re pursuing a case based on at-fault grounds, you and your legal team will have to prove that the spouse is indeed guilty of said “fault,” such as having been unfaithful or abusive.
Divorce trial process
A temporary hearing is called if there are issues that must be dealt with and rulings put in place prior to the formal divorce trial. This may include temporary custody and parenting time rights, a halt on moving any joint assets, temporary use and possession of a house or vehicle, or even a restraining order to keep the couple separated if one is verbally or physically aggressive.
In the event of a contested divorce, a domestic relations financial affidavit will have to be filed with the court and served on your spouse, which details all knowledge and each aspect of your marital finances.
Child custody process at trial
Having children automatically means you will have to send a parenting plan before the court. This is the requirement of a divorce, regardless of whether the case is contested or not.
In a high-conflict custody matter, the court can authorize a representative called guardian ad litem, who will assess the situation through in-person interviews with each parent and with other people who have knowledge of the family and the child. After this research, the guardian ad litem will make a recommendation about what parenting plan should be presented to the court.
If a divorce is in your future, it’s important to understand divorce trial proceedings and have a trusted attorney in your corner. Going through a divorce trial can be emotional and complex, you’ll want the right divorce lawyer on your side to protect your interests. Contact Sauls Law Group through the form on our website or at (770) 212-9168 for a consultation today.