Marietta Divorce Lawyer | Grounds for Divorce in Georgia and Cobb County

What are the grounds for divorce in Georgia?

Divorce affects, directly or indirectly, virtually every family in the country. This video is designed to briefly summarize Georgia’s divorce laws as to the grounds or reasons a Georgia divorce court must hear to dissolve a marriage.

Marriage is a civil contract that the state has an interest in preserving. Accordingly, the marriage relationship may be dissolved only as provided by law through (1) a divorce or (2) an annulment; or altered by (3) a decree of separate maintenance granted by our courts. In any case, there must be a proceeding in the superior court of the county in which the defendant resides (or the county where the parties resided during the marriage if the defendant left the county within six months before filing) and the person seeking the divorce must prove grounds for divorce (valid reasons prescribed by law).

What are the grounds for divorce in Georgia?
In Georgia there are 13 grounds for divorce. One ground is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” (sometimes referred to as the no-fault ground). The other 12 grounds for divorce in Georgia are fault grounds.

What is a no-fault divorce?
To obtain a divorce on this basis (irretrievably broken), one party must establish that he or she refuses to live with the other spouse and that there is no hope of reconciliation. It is not necessary for both parties to agree the marriage is irretrievably broken. Also, it is not necessary to show that there was any fault or wrongdoing by either party.

What are the fault grounds?
To obtain a divorce on one of the 12 fault grounds, one must prove that there was some wrongdoing by one of the parties to the marriage.

As an example, one fault ground is adultery. Adultery in Georgia includes heterosexual and homosexual relations between one spouse and another individual.

Another fault ground for divorce in Georgia is desertion. A divorce may be granted on the grounds that a person has deserted his or her spouse willfully for at least one year. Other fault grounds include mental or physical abuse, marriage between persons who are too closely related, mental incapacity at the time of marriage, impotency at the time of marriage, force or fraud in obtaining the marriage, pregnancy of the wife unknown to the husband at the time of the marriage, conviction and imprisonment for certain crimes, habitual intoxication or drug addiction and mental illness.

SOURCE: State Bar of Georgia

A Kinder, Gentler Way To Divorce

Collaborative divorce gains popularity as way to ease pain and suffering.

    Divorce can do much more than officially shred a marriage certificate. The dissolution can create emotional bleeding that may never heal among the parents and the children, who must somehow move on with their lives. And the financial impact of blowing a marriage apart can leave behind as much destruction as a mushroom cloud.

    Which is why an increasing number of attorneys, therapists and financial experts who work with divorcing couples are advocating that their clients choose a more productive and less hostile way to dissolve a marriage. The path less traveled is called the collaborative divorce process, which is growing in popularity across the country among professionals and their feuding clients.

    While no one knows how many couples are terminating their marriages using the collaborative process, membership in the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, which is an umbrella group for experts working in the divorce field, is doubling every year and is now close to 1,300.

Professionals in at least 35 states have embraced the collaborative process. “The collaborative divorce phenomenon is growing by leaps and bounds across North America as the process is becoming more and more known,” says Bob Bordett, an IACP board member and a certified financial planner at Consolidated Planning Corp., a boutique investment advisory firm in Atlanta.

    At first glance, the ground rules that an unhappy couple must agree to follow during this collaborative process may sound laughable for two people who long ago stopped sharing confidences, much less bathrooms. Couples who select this approach must agree in writing not to go to court or threaten to make that move even if things don’t appear to be going their way. A spouse who breaks that promise will quickly find him or herself all alone. The attorneys and other professionals, who had been guiding the spouse through each step in the divorce, will disappear.

    The key word in this approach is collaboration, which means husband and wife must check their howitzers at the door. Instead, they agree to negotiate all aspects of the divorce. The aim is to break up in a way that strives to take into account the highest priorities of each spouse and any children. Mutual respect is crucial, and husband and wife are expected to be honest with each other. That means, for instance, if one of them was having an affair that made them want the divorce, that fact needs to be revealed. And obviously, hiding assets or being less than candid when talks turn to money is a no-no.

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A Brief History of Collaborative Law

A Brief History of the Origin of Collaborative Law in the United States
by Diane Woods

Sometime in the late 1980’s Stuart "Stu" Webb, a family law practitioner in Minneapolis, Minnesota grew weary of the daily courtroom battles he waged. As seasoned trial lawyer, Stu was adept and knowledgeable. As a caring human being, he longed for a non-combative forum where his analytical skills and ability to generate creative alternatives could be useful. He reasoned that the latter skills were grossly underutilized in the usual adversarial family law proceeding.

Stu was searching for a different way of doing business.

Although he also had training as a mediator, he perceived that one of the weaknesses in mediation was that, in the early stages, mediation frequently lacked critical legal advice from competent counsel. He also observed, in a 1990 letter to one of Minnesota’s Supreme Court Justices, that there were occasional times, occurring usually by accident, when in the course of attempting to negotiate a family law settlement, we find ourselves in a conference with the opposing counsel, and perhaps the respective clients, where dynamics were such that in a climate of positive energy, creative alternatives were presented.  In that context, everyone contributed to a final settlement that satisfied all concerned—and everyone left the conference feeling high energy, good feelings and satisfaction.

Stu mused that such a settlement promoted the possibility of the parties relating to each other differently in all future dealings. He also foresaw the possibility of the lawyers developing a degree of trust between them that might make their future dealings more productive.

In this same letter Stu concluded:

So my premise has been: why not create this settlement climate deliberately?  I propose doing this by creating a context for settling family law matters by, where possible, removing the trial aspects from consideration initially. I would do this by creating a coterie of lawyers who would agree to take cases, on a case-by-case basis, for settlement only. The understanding would be that if it were determined at any time that the parties could not agree and settlement didn’t appear possible, or if for other reasons adversarial court proceedings were likely to be required, and the attorneys for both sides would withdraw from the case and the parties would retain new attorneys from there on out to final resolution.

I call the attorney in this settlement model a collaborative attorney, practicing in that case collaborative law.

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The steps to a collaborative divorce

How a collaborative divorce works

Here are the steps a couple might take in a collaborative divorce:

• Each party chooses a collaboratively trained divorce attorney

• The attorneys contact each other to evaluate whether the divorce can be handled collaboratively.

• The parties meet and sign a contract that says they will not litigate. If they decide to go to court later, their attorneys are disqualified from representing them, and they begin the process over.

• Meetings are scheduled to exchange relevant information about finances and children.

• The parties choose a team that could include divorce coaches (mental-health professionals, a neutral financial adviser, a child advocate). They might or might not meet later with these team members.

• The attorneys draw up the divorce documents. The parties sign them, and the papers are filed with the court.

Source: Gretchen Walther, Albuquerque collaborative divorce attorney and spokeswoman for the American Bar Association and The Arizona Republic

Unhitched without a hitch – Team approach promises more amicable split

Another good article about the benefits of collaborative divorce by Barbara Yost at The Arizona Republic:

When Naomi Garcia sought a divorce in late 2005, a friend recommended attorney Deborah Pratte, who specialized in a process called collaborative divorce. The idea promised a less contentious approach to dissolving a marriage.

Garcia and her husband had been married for 17 years and wanted to spare their 8-year-old daughter the pain of a rancorous split.

"We were extremely concerned about not creating a negative experience for her," the Tucson woman said.

As a social worker, Garcia had seen the wounds that warring parents inflict on their children. "I saw divorce as part of the evil," she said.

Garcia and her husband wanted their divorce to be amicable. Within two months, most of the process had been completed, and the two remained on good terms.

Amicable divorce need not be an oxymoron when couples resolve to put their differences aside and use collaborative law to end a marriage. This style of divorce, created by a Minnesota attorney in 1990, is spreading across the country.

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