A divorce in Georgia is considered uncontested when both parties are in agreement as to how they wish to handle the issues between them or when one party does not respond to a filed action. If the spouses are in disagreement about even one issue, the divorce is considered contested. Grounds, venue, alimony, division of property and debt, child custody and child support must be settled for a divorce to proceed as uncontested. Almost all uncontested divorces are filed as no-fault case--where the parties state that neither spouse is to blame, but that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Per the state's divorce laws, there are three ways in which an uncontested divorce can go forward and become finalized.
Uncontested Divorce by Consent and Signed Agreement
In an an uncontested agreement divorce, the parties sign paperwork telling the court that they have reached a mutually agreed upon settlement concerning all their marital issues. Their agreements are detailed in a settlement agreement that is signed by both parties in front of a notary public. The court then incorporates this document into its final order granting the divorce. Two other important components of this type of divorce is that the parties agree to venue or the county in which the paperwork will be filed, and neither party has to be served with the legal documents. This is the consent part of the process. Consent divorce by signed agreement is usually the quickest way to get an uncontested divorce as, according to Georgia law, the court can finalize the divorce 31 days after the proper paperwork has been filed.
Uncontested Divorce by Service
In this type of uncontested divorce, the petitioner (the spouse who files the divorce) has a sheriff or other authorized individual serve divorce papers on the respondent (the other spouse). Once the respondent is served, he has two options if he wishes for the divorce to proceed as uncontested--to not respond to the paperwork or to respond with an answer that agrees with the paperwork. Some parties choose this method because it is less work for the respondent. In filing for an uncontested divorce via service, Georgia laws require that the paperwork be filed in the county where the respondent lives. The respondent has 31 days to answer the paperwork after he has been served. If he does not respond, the matter is considered uncontested, and the petitioner can go for a final hearing to finalize the divorce.
Uncontested Divorce by Publication
Divorce by publication is an uncontested process that the laws of Georgia allow a person to use when she cannot locate her spouse. In this process, a divorce action is filed along with an affidavit signed by the petitioner telling the court all the things she has done in an effort to find her spouse. If the petitioner can't find her spouse, the court will sign an order allowing the spouse to be served by publication. A legal notice will be published publicly in the official legal organ of the county where the petitioner resides. The notice runs for four weeks. If the spouse does not respond to the notice within a certain period of time, the divorce is considered uncontested and the petitioner can attend a final hearing to get the divorce finalized. Under the laws of Georgia, a judge hearing a divorce by publication matter can grant the divorce, but he cannot make any determination regarding property, debt, child custody or child support.
For all uncontested divorce actions filed in the state of Georgia, the law requires at least one of the parties to have lived in the state for six months prior to the actual filing of the paperwork. The courts do not usually verify residency by requiring proof, but the parties will sign legal documents swearing that they meet this residency requirement. It is illegal to lie to the court.