Whether a divorce is highly contested or the spouses agree to all terms, there are four main issues that must be resolved before a final divorce may be granted. Some issues may not apply to certain divorces, but they must all be addressed.
Alimony – Alimony is financial support for a spouse after a divorce. Alimony may be awarded on a monthly basis or in a lump sum. Several factors, including standard of living during the marriage, duration of the marriage, and financial resources of each party, are considered in determining what the appropriate amount of alimony will be, if any. Generally, a Judge will weigh the factors and consider one party’s need for the alimony versus the other party’s ability to pay in making the determination.
Child Custody – After a divorce, the parties’ minor children (if any) will no longer be able to live with both parents. There must, therefore, be a determination of both legal and physical custody. Legal custody has to do with decision making while physical custody deals with where the children will live. Visitation must also be worked out under any child custody arrangement. If there are no children of the marriage and, therefore, no child custody to be decided, the Final Divorce Decree must explicitly state so.
Child Support – If there are minor children, there must be provisions made for the financial support of these children. In Georgia, there is a child support calculator that considers each parent’s income, among other factors, in determining the appropriate amount of child support. The worksheets also take into consideration the amount of time each parent spends with the children as well as other expenses paid by each parent for the benefit of the children. If there are no children of the marriage and, therefore, no child support to be decided, the Final Divorce Decree must explicitly state so.
Equitable Division – Any marital assets must be divided between the parties equitably. Equitably does not necessarily mean equally. The Judge will take all circumstances surrounding the marriage and divorce into consideration when dividing property. Parties are usually happier if they can work this issue out on their own, as only they know what is most important to each person and why.