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Timeline of a Divorce in the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit


Below is a timeline of the typical divorce in the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit (Catoosa, Walker, Dade and Chattooga Counties).  However, every case is different and your case may not go along exactly with the below timeline.  Most of the below timeline would apply in any case in the State of Georgia.  However, local court rules can vary in each judicial circuit of the State.  The website for the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit is below where you can find more information about the Judicial Circuit.

Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit (

FILING FOR DIVORCE – Every contested Divorce starts the same way.  One party files a Complaint for Divorce and serves the other party.  A Divorce is filed with the Clerk’s office in the county where the divorce will be heard.  The filing party must pay a filing fee which at this time is about $250.  The cost to serve the other party is usually around $50 but can be more depending on the difficulty of service and if it’s necessary to use a private process server as opposed to the Sheriff’s Office.

EX PARTE ORDERS – In many cases, at the time the Divorce is filed, the filing party may also ask a Judge for an Ex Parte Order.  An Ex Parte Order is simply an Order which is granted without the other party being present.  This is often done in cases where there are minor children.  The typical Ex Parte Order will give one party custody of the minor children and possession of the marital home pending the Temporary Hearing.  When an Ex Parte order is granted, that Order will be filed along with the Complaint for Divorce and served upon the other party at the same time as the Complaint of Divorce. Ex Parte Orders are usually only in effect for a few weeks until a Temporary Hearing where both parties are present and can be heard by the court.

PERSONAL SERVICE – A Divorce like any civil case must be served upon the other party.  This is typically done by having a private process server or having the County Sheriff serve the other party with the Complaint for Divorce.  An Entry of Service showing where the other party has received the documents and signed an acknowledgment of that receipt will be filed with the Court. If an Ex Parte Order has been granted the Temporary Hearing date will be set in that Order.  If an Ex Parte Order was not done then usually the other party will have 30 days from the date of service to file an Answer with the Court.

OVERVIEW OF TEMPORARY HEARING – A Temporary Hearing is the first court date.  Any ruling by the Court or agreement between the parties reached at a Temporary Hearing will be as the name says, temporary in nature.  At a Temporary Hearing the issues that will be dealt with will usually be temporary custody of the children, a temporary visitation arrangement with children, temporary possession of the marital home or any other marital property, attorney’s fees, temporary alimony and other issues which need to be dealt with before the Final Hearing.  There are limitations placed upon Temporary Hearings such as you are only allowed a limited number of witnesses and the hearing cannot last longer than two hours without prior approval of the Judge. In each county of this Judicial Circuit there are two “Circuit Court” days in which Family Law cases are heard each month.

WHAT WILL THE FIRST COURT DATE BE LIKE AND WHERE WILL IT BE HELD? Your first court date as stated above will be a Temporary Hearing. Temporary hearings are held on what are called “Circuit Days”. The Circuit Days are held twice a month in each county of the Circuit.  For example, Circuit Days in Catoosa County are generally every other Wednesday at 9:00.  There will typically be two Judges present on each Circuit day.  Regardless of what County your case is being heard in, you will need to be at court and seated by 8:45.  On all the Circuit Days there will be many cases on the calendar, not just your case.  Most attorneys will have multiple cases on any given Circuit Day.  The Judge decides which cases are heard and in what order they are heard.  This Judicial Circuit does not currently have judicial assignments and therefore it will not be known until your court date which judge will hear your case.  Unfortunately, all cases except adoptions are open to the public.

WHAT HAPPENS AT THE TEMPORARY HEARING? – Many cases are resolved by agreement between the parties either before the Temporary Hearing or the day of the Temporary Hearing.  If an agreement can be reached between the parties then the attorneys announce that agreement in front of the Judge.  One of the attorneys will then voluntarily prepare the order and send that proposed order to the other attorney for their approval. The order will then be sent to the judge for his signature.  Unless an agreement has been reached prior to Court you will not receive a copy of the Order that dayIf your case cannot be resolved by an agreement then you will have a hearing in front of the Judge and the Judge will decide all issues.

WHAT HAPPENS IN A CONTESTED TEMPORARY HEARING? – If your case is not resolved by agreement then the Judge decides all issues. A Temporary Hearing will begin with the party who filed a Complaint for Divorce calling their first witness. The moving party will call their witnesses and the opposing party has a chance to cross-examine any witnesses.  When the moving party rests, then the other party may call their witnesses.  After the Court has heard all testimony and evidence, it will render a ruling and tell the parties what to put in a Temporary Order.  If this hearing does not go your way remember that it is just temporary and you will get a chance to argue your case again.


A Temporary Hearing is limited to two hours unless otherwise ordered by the Judge. The parties may only call two witnesses which include themselves.  Due to the two hour time limitation and the witness limitation the parties may submit written affidavits instead of having witnesses testify in court. These affidavits must be notarized and provided to the other party at least 24 hours before the hearing.

DISCOVERY – Is a process whereby the parties in a Divorce action or any civil action can obtain information and documents from the other party.  This can take basically four forms.  First Interrogatories are questions put in written form and sent to the other party to answer.  The Request to Produce and for the Production of Documents is just what it says it is a request from one party to the other party for documents.  Of course, in the information page documents refers to much more than just paper documents. The third and less used is a Request to Admit.  Requests to Admit are basely just questions sent to the other party requesting either an admission or denial.  For example, you would send a Request to Admit that one party has committed adultery.  Fourth, the parties may depose the other parties in depositions.

Typically, in an average divorce case Discovery will begin sometime after the first hearing which is called a Temporary Hearing and before the Final Hearing in the case.  However, Discovery request can be made at the start of the case as well.

Discovery can delay a case from being finalized. However, the real purpose of Discovery is to allow the parties to get ready for trial.  Discovery allows an attorney to know the facts for trial and to prepare accordingly.  The Discovery process prevents one party from hiding information from the other party and allows the court to craft a more fair resolution to the case.

On a practical note, if you’re involved in any kind of civil case especially a divorce or family law modification action be aware of the potential of anything you put in written form may be asked for in Discovery.  For example, be prepared to hand over all your financial records such as your bank records.  Be prepared that any text message you sent or Facebook post you put up may be requested and put before the court.  So, be careful what you write.

MEDIATION – Mediation is now required in all cases unless waived by the Court.  Usually after a Temporary Hearing but before the Final Hearing the parties will enter into formal mediation.  Formal mediation is a process where the parties and their attorneys attempt to resolve the case with a neutral mediator acting as a sort of referee.  The parties are responsible for paying for mediation and the cost is usually around a $100 to $150 an hour for each party. Typically, mediations will last two to four hours.  If the parties reach an agreement that agreement will be set out in writing in a mediation agreement which is binding between the parties. The parties may of course also informally talk and resolve the case by agreement.

FINAL HEARING – If you have not been able to resolve your case by agreement you will have a Final Hearing.  This may be in front of the judge like a Temporary Hearing or in some cases you may have a jury trial on some issues.

Legal disclaimer: The information contained on this page and this entire website is for informational purposes only and are not intended as legal advice.  You should always consult an attorney before taking legal action.  Reading this website or any website is not a substitute for a trained attorney.  This website does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Shawn Bible Law Firm.  Mr. Bible serves all Northwest Georgia, including the cities of Ringgold, Fort Oglethorpe, Dalton, Lafayette, Trenton, Summerville and Rossville, in the counties of Catoosa, Walker, Chattooga and Dade Counties. 

Posted on: 13 Sep, 2023          under: Divorce, Family Law

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