A petition--also sometimes called a complaint--is the primary document that must be filed to start a divorce. The spouse filing the petition is the plaintiff and the other spouse is the defendant. The petition is generally filed in Fayette County if the defendant lives there. However, if he has moved out of state, it is also possible to file in Fayette County if the plaintiff resides there. The petition will state that the plaintiff has met residency requirements in Georgia, that Fayette County has venue because the one of the parties has met residency requirements there, the grounds for divorce, names and addresses for both spouses and all children and who the children live with, as well as other factual information such as the date of the marriage. It must also include a list of what the plaintiff is asking the court for, such as alimony, property distribution or custody.
This notice is attached to the front of the petition for service upon the defendant. It instructs him that he should answer the petition and tells him how long he has to do that.
The summons and petition can be served on the defendant either by a Fayette County sheriff's deputy or by the plaintiff hand-delivering a copy. If a deputy does it, she will complete a sheriff's entry of service and file it with the court. If the plaintiff does it, she will need to complete a Certificate of Service and file that with the court. The defendant has 30 days to answer the petition. These forms tell the court when the defendant was served and when the 30 days begin counting down.
Case Filing Information Form
Next a case filing information form must be filed with the Fayette County clerk. This is a basic information sheet that gives the full names of each of the parties, the name of the plaintiff's attorney if he has one, and states if the divorce is contested and if it will involve issues of child support or custody.
Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit
Shortly after a petition or an answer to a petition is filed, unless the divorce is uncontested and a settlement has already been agreed on, a domestic relations financial affidavit must also be filed. It is a lengthy document that calls for minute details about each party's financial situation, including income, assets, monthly budget needs and long term liabilities.
Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act
Because Georgia subscribes to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act that determines which state has jurisdiction over custody issues, this form is necessary if children are involved in a divorce and they are considered residents of Georgia. The form attests that the children have lived in the state for the past five years and lists personal information such as gender and birth dates for each of them.
- a man and a woman with documents image by Sergii Shalimov from Fotolia.com