Much like a test, navigating divorce is not something you want to do without proper resources, time, and support. So where do you start? How can you best prepare for divorce proceedings? Leslie Akridge and Krista Shiver, family law paralegals with Whitehurst, Blackburn & Warren, emphasize the importance of first finding an attorney who is an expert in the field.
“With domestic cases, we have to start from scratch every time—handling each case differently,” Shiver explains. “Your situation may look like your friend or family member’s divorce on the surface; however, the finances, children, and all the details make your experience unique to you.”
Once you have secured legal counsel, Akridge and Shiver both suggest that you come to your appointment with questions in mind. Write down your questions in advance of your initial consultation. Keep a journal or calendar with you between meetings. As things happen in your life that spark a thought relating to the divorce, you can ask those questions at your next meeting with the family law team.
In addition to tracking the history of your marriage, it’s also important to go ahead and start exploring the possibilities for your future. What do you want your life to look like after divorce?
“While it can be difficult to think that far ahead, especially in treacherous times that typically surround divorce, it can help us determine your goals,” says Akridge. “It can also help us use our time together more wisely. No matter how well you get along with your spouse, you don’t want to be tied together years after divorce. Your legal team will help you ensure small, but significant details are not overlooked.”
WBW provides family law clients with a packet of information that includes resources and frequently asked questions. This packet serves as a guide to help you on your journey. But remember, even with ample preparation and study, every divorce case is unique, especially when it comes to length.
One of the most common questions that Leslie and Krista hear is “How long will my divorce take?” Their response is just like your divorce—it depends on all the different variables. As a general rule, though, divorces are not quick, especially when children, property, and finances are involved.
Shiver explains, “Even if everything is procedurally perfect—which rarely happens—and all terms are agreed upon in one day, your divorce will still take an additional 45 days.”
This 45-day waiting period is part of Georgia law and allows both parties to consider their decision, hire an attorney, or even back out of the agreement. Divorces can either be contested or uncontested. According to the State of Georgia “in uncontested divorces, both parties agree to the terms of divorce, such as child custody, the division of assets, or alimony. In contested divorces, the parties do not agree and must settle these terms in court.” (The waiting period applies to uncontested divorces.)
For the team at Whitehurst, Blackburn & Warren, experience has shown that a contested divorce will range from six months to one year, and can possibly last up to five years or more. A lengthy discovery period where the information is being collected, followed by hearings and mediation, generally comprise the flow of divorce proceedings.
Shiver’s best advice when facing divorce: “Calm down and let time be your friend. Often what lengthens the process is when one or both parties is not willing to do something.”
WBW is here to help navigate your divorce. Call today to schedule a free consultation to determine your next step. 229-226-2161.