Contested Divorce in Georgia – The Process
A contested divorce is a lawsuit like any other. The process involves pleadings (complaint and answer), discovery, motions, often a temporary hearing, mediation, and potentially a trial. Domestic trials are usually before the judge. Only a judge can determine custody. However, either party can request that a jury make an alimony or property division decision.
Contested actions are time intensive for all concerned. A hard fought domestic action replete with heavy discovery, a temporary hearing, an unsuccessful mediation (usually a day long), all the communications the intense circumstances requires (hundreds of phone calls and emails), and an ultimate trial (usually from a full day to a week depending on the complexity of the case and the number of witnesses), can run from 100 to 200 hours in attorney time, or more.
If you are dealing with a contested divorce, you need an experienced trial lawyer. You attorney must have a full and complete understanding of the Civil Practices Act, the rules that govern procedure and discovery, and the Georgia Rules of Evidence contained in Title 24 of the O.C.G.A. and any local rules. Fulton County, for example, has a special Family Division with their own unique local rules. To handle a contested hearing or trial successfully, the attorney must be skilled at asking questions of witnesses, authenticating documents, tendering evidence, and making objections. (You can't learn this in a book.) A "pro se" party or an attorney who has inferior experience or knowledge will be at a significant disadvantage in any contested hearing or trial.
Atlanta Divorce Attorney Russell Hippe is an experienced trial lawyer. See, Results. He has won divorce trials against “Super Lawyers” and respected firms that have charged their client tens of thousands of dollars and, in one case, over $100,000. He is skilled at keeping the costs of contested actions to a minimum.
Although nobody likes to pay the attorney's fees associated with a contested divorce, sometime there is no choice. You may be in a situation where you have to file. See, Should I File Now? And a contested action has advantages. Namely, you get the process started if pre filing settlement negotiations are likely to fail, you get the protection of a standing order (your spouse can't move assets or move with the children), and you get the benefits of discovery. Plus, you don't have the disadvantages of a uncontested divorce.
Mr. Hippe will not hesitate to try a case if needed. But, if a settlement can be reached along the way, even if a settlement cannot be reached prior to filing as proposed in the Roadmap, this is usually in the client’s interest. Even after a contested filing, settlement discussion should never be closed off. It is critical to maintain respectful, positive communication with your soon to be ex spouse at all times. And there should never be animosity between lawyers. Sometimes, however, the client has no choice but to proceed to a trial.
In these situations, a competent, affordable, experienced domestic trial lawyer is needed. If you are dealing with a contested divorce in Georgia, you should contact Mr. Hippe. The below links deal with issues applicable to contested divorce actions in Georgia.
- Legal Separation Prior to Filing a Divorce in Georgia
- Jurisdiction and Venue in a Georgia Divorce - Where Do I File?
- Pleadings and Service in a Contested Georgia Divorce
- Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit
- Initial Motions in a Contested Georgia Divorce
- Discovery in a Contested Georgia Divorce
- Guardians ad Litems, Psychologists, and Parenting Co-Ordinators
- Final Trials
- Contested Post Divorce Actions - Contempt Motions and Modifications
- Contested Post Divorce Custody Modification Actions
- Temporary Protective Orders in Georgia
- Witness Privilege in a Georgia Divorce