Divorce is a major life event, often involving its fair share of legal complexities. In Georgia, the divorce decree is a vital document that plays a pivotal role in the dissolution of a marriage

Whether you’re going through a divorce or seeking to understand this topic better, we’re here to provide a comprehensive overview of a Georgia divorce decree.

What Is a Divorce Decree?

A divorce decree is the final court order that terminates a marriage. The decree is a legal document outlining the divorce’s terms and conditions. It covers critical aspects and is tailored to relevant issues.

Key Contents of a Georgia Divorce Decree

The specifics of divorce decrees can vary based on individual cases and Georgia laws. Yet, they often cover several critical elements:

Alimony or Spousal Support

In some cases, one spouse may receive alimony (or spousal support) from another. If fitting, the divorce decree will outline the type, amount, and duration of alimony payments. Georgia courts consider factors such as marriage length and both parties’ financial needs when determining alimony.

Child Custody and Visitation

When children are involved, the divorce decree addresses child custody and visitation arrangements. 

Georgia courts focus on the child’s best interests when determining custody arrangements. The decree will specify custody. It stipulates which parent has primary physical custody, legal custody, and visitation schedules.

Child Support

Child support is another critical component covered in the divorce decree. It outlines the financial responsibilities of each parent in supporting their children post-divorce. Georgia has established child support guidelines. These guidelines determine the amount one parent must pay the other. This information will be detailed in the decree.

Property Division

A significant aspect of any divorce involves the division of marital property. The divorce decree will outline how the marital property and debts will be distributed between the spouses. 

Georgia follows the principle of equitable distribution. This means the property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally. When making these determinations, the court considers various factors. Some factors include each spouse’s financial situation and contributions to the marriage.

It’s often overlooked, but a significant aspect of the divorce decree is the option for a legal name change. The order can include a name change provision if either spouse wishes to revert to their prior name or adopt a different last name. This allows individuals to start fresh with a name that suits their post-divorce life.

Divorce Decree vs. Certificate vs. Record

It’s crucial to differentiate between a divorce decree, a divorce certificate, and a divorce record. 

A divorce certificate is basic proof of your changed marital status. The certificate is often required for official purposes. A divorce record contains all the documents filed during the divorce proceedings. These documents include financial statements, support payment records, and the actual divorce decree.

Enforceability of the Divorce Decree

A Georgia divorce decree is legally binding and enforceable. Both parties must follow the terms in the order, and the court can enforce compliance. If one party violates the terms, the affected party can take legal action. This way, they can hold the violating party accountable and potentially change the terms.

Impact on Third-Party Loans

Your divorce decree outlines financial responsibilities between spouses but doesn’t affect third-party debts. If you share debts with creditors, you both remain legally responsible. This liability is regardless of the decree. Communicate with creditors about changes. When needed, seek legal counsel to protect your financial interests.

Access and Confidentiality

Access to divorce decrees in Georgia is restricted to specific parties – often, those involved in the divorce or their authorized representatives. Only one of the former spouses or their attorneys can request a copy of the decree. Informational copies may be available for genealogical purposes but are often labeled invalid for identification.

Obtaining a Copy of Your Georgia Divorce Decree

If you need a copy of your Georgia divorce decree, follow county procedures. You may need a certified copy from the county Superior Court where the divorce papers were filed. Different criteria determine who can request a certified copy. Often, the named parties, a parent, a legal guardian, or an authorized representative, satisfy the criteria.

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to Crystal Wright Law online by visiting our contact us page.
You can also visit our law firm at 440 S. Perry Street Suite 105, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.