Many clients ask us about the reference to a “Standing Order” when filing for an uncontested divorce in Georgia. Although their case is uncontested, the Standing Order still technically applies. This is because in Georgia, when a domestic relations action (divorce or family law case) is filed, a Standing Order will be issued by the superior court in which it is filed.
Although the parties will usually agree it is unnecessary, in an uncontested divorce proceeding, a Standing Order usually addresses several issues important to the case and safety of the individuals involved. For example, a Standing Order issued during a Georgia uncontested divorce proceeding will generally prohibit either of the parents from removing the children from the jurisdiction, harassing/stalking one another, selling or otherwise disposing of/moving marital property, etc. The standing order also prohibits either party from employing another person on their behalf that would violate the standing order.
The order applies to the plaintiff when the action is filed, but does not apply to the defendant until he or she is served with the Complaint for Divorce and Standing Order. The Standing Order can vary from county to county in Georgia. However, the general requirements are usually similar.
If either you or the other party were to violate the requirements of a Standing Order, you could be found in contempt of court. That being said, exceptions to the standing order may be made after court approval, so if you are not sure that you will be able to obey all of the Standing Order rules for a valid legal reason, you could ask for an exception by filing a motion with the court.
The full text of O.C.G.A. 19-1-1 providing for the issuance of Standing Orders in Georgia divorce and domestic relations case is below.
(a) As used in this Code section, the term “domestic relations action” shall include any action for divorce, alimony, equitable division of assets and liabilities, child custody, child support, legitimization, annulment, determination of paternity, termination of parental rights in connection with an adoption proceeding filed in a superior court, any contempt proceeding relating to enforcement of a decree or order, a petition in respect to modification of a decree or order, an action on a foreign judgment based on alimony or child support, and adoption. The term “domestic relations action” shall also include any direct or collateral attack on a judgment or order entered in any such action.
(b) Upon the filing of any domestic relations action, the court may issue a standing order in such action which:
(1) Upon notice, binds the parties in such action, their agents, servants, and employees, and all other persons acting in concert with such parties;
(2) Enjoins and restrains the parties from unilaterally causing or permitting the minor child or children of the parties to be removed from the jurisdiction of the court without the permission of the court, except in an emergency which has been created by the other party to the action;
(3) Enjoins and restrains each party from doing or attempting to do or threatening to do any act which injures, maltreats, vilifies, molests, or harasses or which may, upon judicial determination, constitute threats, harassment, or stalking the adverse party or the child or children of the parties or any act which constitutes a violation of other civil or criminal laws of this state; and
(4) Enjoins and restrains each party from selling, encumbering, trading, contracting to sell, or otherwise disposing of or removing from the jurisdiction of the court, without the permission of the court, any of the property belonging to the parties except in the ordinary course of business or except in an emergency which has been created by the other party to the action.
(c) Upon written motion of a party, the standing order provided for in this Code section shall be reviewed by the court at any rule nisi hearing.
Examples of Standing Orders throughout Georgia are linked below:
- Fulton County Georgia
- Gwinnett County Georgia
- Forsyth County Georgia
- DeKalb County Georgia
- Cobb County Georgia
- Cherokee County Georgia
- Paulding County Georgia
- Hall County Georgia
In summary, all Georgia uncontested divorce cases are usually filed under a Standing Order prohibiting the parties from certain conduct and actions. However, in the context of an uncontested divorce, the protection of the Standing Order is not usually necessary, or a concern to any of the parties. The court does not generally presume that either of the parties are violating the standing order. However, if the court does learn that either party is violating the standing order and causing harm in anyway, that party may be found in contempt of the court.
How would the court learn that one of the parties is in violation of the Standing Order? Almost always, the other spouse would file a Motion for Contempt or a Citation for Contempt against the offending spouse. Again, in the context of an uncontested divorce, this is unusual. Usually, contempt issues would become a factor months or years after the uncontested divorce is finalized. But hurt feelings, anger, and a desire for revenge and to cause legal problems for another spouse could lead to a one spouse filing for contempt under the Standing Order.
Navigating a Georgia Uncontested Divorce and Standing Order
If you are facing an uncontested divorce in Georgia and have questions about the cost, process, or requirements under the Standing Order – call us today at 770-609-1247. Our Georgia uncontested divorce attorneys have experience in all types of cases, including: complex, simple, with and without minor children, same-sex, and case with immigration issues.