Our Uncontested Divorce Process — An Introduction:
This is a general description of the steps for starting, filing and completing an uncontested divorce in the Georgia counties in which we offer full service representation for uncontested matters. Please note that, in some counties, we offer full service representation only for cases that do not involve minor children only. In those counties, we will not be able to offer full service representation if your case involves a minor child. But we can still provide limited services for an uncontested divorce. Later, we will blog on the “limited services” separately. But, here is a general description of our full service representation process for an uncontested divorce in Georgia. Of course, we vary the process a bit as necessary from case to case to fit the individual needs of our clients and the requirements of the court where the divorce is to be actually filed.
In our uncontested divorce process, we ask that you fill out the Client Inquiry Form and submit it online. The online form provides basic but important information about you, your spouse and your situation. We need this in advance. It helps us evaluate whether your case is appropriate for our uncontested divorce process. Later, it will save a lot of time when we have our Initial Consultation.
Free Telephone Consultation:
Of course, if you wish, we can have a brief (15 to 20 minutes) free consultation with you at no charge about your case by telephone. This will help you (and us) make sure that it will be appropriate for you to pursue as an uncontested divorce. We can answer any preliminary questions that you may have about your divorce, our process and the cost of your case.
Make an Appointment with Attorney:
Then, once you are ready to proceed, you can use our online scheduling tool to set up an appointment to meet (typically by telephone) and discuss your case in detail. Of course you can also just give us a call to make the appointment. At the meeting to start your divorce case, you will need to pay our flat fee using any method of payment that you choose.
More Divorce Information:
By the way, it does not matter where you and your spouse got married. What is important is where you and/or your spouse lives at the time that the uncontested divorce is filed. The place where we will file your uncontested divorce case in Georgia will be either the county where you or your spouse actually currently lives.
Also, the general rule is that at least one of you must be a resident of the State of Georgia for at least 6 months before the actual filing of your divorce case with the court. But, there are some exceptions that we can explain to you too.
Military Divorce Exception:
Military divorces can be an exception. If you are an active duty military service member and are not otherwise considered a resident of Georgia, you must have been in the State of Georgia for 12 months instead of just 6 months. However, if you are an active duty military service member stationed outside of Georgia, you may be a resident of Georgia for purposes of the divorce if you have had a Georgia “home of record” for at least 6 months — just as if you were a civilian living in Georgia although you are actually living elsewhere. This can get a little complicated so if you are unsure, just give us a call at 770 794 3220 or 912 215 7677.
We will meet with you to discuss your case and make sure that we have all of the information needed for the uncontested divorce process and to prepare your divorce documents. If you have minor children (younger than age 18) with your spouse, the initial meeting to start the uncontested divorce will typically be in-person unless you are too far away to conveniently come to the office. We are experimenting with starting all cases (even those with minor children) with a telephone conference instead of an in-person meeting. So, if you are interested in starting your uncontested divorce over the telephone, just let us know. If you and your spouse have no minor children together (or you are too far away from our office), the initial meeting will be by telephone.
Paying Our Fee:
At our initial meeting with you, we will collect our fee from you. We accept all major credit/debit cards including American Express for our flat fee for the uncontested divorce. Whether the initial meeting is by phone or in-person, we will spend as much time as needed discussing the details of your divorce and planning your settlement agreement. We also inform you in detail of exactly how we will handle your particular case. This initial meeting for your divorce usually takes about 45 minutes if no minor children are involved. But, if minor children are involved in your divorce we will plan on meeting for about 90 minutes. The initial consultation is a vital part of the uncontested divorce process and that cost is included in our fee for your uncontested divorce case.
What We Will Discuss:
We will both give you information and get details from you on the specific issues appropriate for your case including: alimony; child custody; visitation; child support; health insurance: real property disposition: personal property division (bank accounts, cars, furniture, etc.); retirement account division; and debt division/allocation. This will include calculating child support using the state-required Child Support Worksheet.
What About Child Support?
To calculate what Georgia law requires for child support in your particular situation, you will need to provide us with your monthly gross (pre-tax) income and your spouse’s monthly gross income. Additionally, you will need to inform us of the cost of the child/ren’s medical insurance each month. In many cases, you will also need to tell us how much you and/or your spouse pays for work-related child care for each month. We will give you advice on every one of the specific issues involved in the uncontested divorce.
Who We Actually Will Represent in the Divorce:
Under Georgia legal ethics rules, in the uncontested divorce process we can only represent you (and not your spouse). That simply means that we simply cannot give your spouse any legal advice. You will be the “Plaintiff” in the uncontested divorce and we always represent the Plaintiff – the party who is officially asking the court for the divorce.
Does My Spouse Also Need an Attorney?
We have found that in about 90% of our uncontested divorce cases we are the only attorney involved in the case. However, your spouse certainly has the right to hire his/her own attorney if he/she needs independent legal advice. But, if your spouse decides to hire his/her own attorney, we do not negotiate with his/her attorney unless you pay us for that additional service. It will be up to you to work out the details of the divorce settlement with your spouse. However, we will advise you every step of the way on all of the divorce issues.
Opening Your file:
Immediately after the conference to start your case and once you have paid our flat fee, we open your file at our office and prepare the first draft of your Settlement Agreement (including the Child Support Worksheet and Parenting Plan if your case involves minor children). The draft Settlement Agreement (and all other divorce settlement documents) is then sent to you by email with instructions. The draft documents are NOT for signing. They are for you and then your spouse to review to make sure that there are no errors and there are no disputes for the two of you to work out.
Reviewing your Settlement Agreement:
You and your spouse will review the draft Settlement Agreement to make sure that your settlement documents contain all the terms needed for your specific situation and that the two of you are in full agreement. You provide feedback to us and, if necessary, we will revise the draft Settlement Agreement so that it is acceptable to both you and your spouse.
Signing your Divorce Documents:
When you and your spouse are fully satisfied with the draft Settlement Agreement (including the child support and Parenting Plan), just let us know (usually by email is best). We send all of the divorce documents to be signed to you by email with full instructions. You will send the papers to your spouse for his or her signature in the presence of a notary public. All signatures on the uncontested divorce documents (both yours and your spouse’s) must be individually and properly notarized. You then make a copy of all of the fully signed documents and return the original/physical signed documents to us. Faxes, scanned images and copies will not be accepted and filed by the Court. You will also pay us the amount of the court costs (filing fee and similar costs) for your case at this point. If you need a quitclaim deed, Qualified Domestic Relations Order (Q.D.R.O), etc. for your case, we can prepare these for you at a reasonable additional fee.
Divorcing Parents Seminar:
If you have minor children, before the divorce will be granted, you and your spouse will be required to attend a four hour educational seminar for divorcing parents. This seminar is held by the court in your county and costs about $30 (some counties are as high as $50 though). You do not have to attend the seminar with your spouse.
You can register for the seminar using your case number and your seminar attendance will be reported to the court for you. Alternatively, you may attend the seminar prior to the filing of your case, provide us with the original certificate of attendance and we will file it with the court for you. A few courts will actually permit you and your spouse to attend the parenting seminar online (Fulton County is one). It costs more but it is much more convenient than participating in the seminar in person. Some judges do not require that you attend the parenting seminar at all. But, if the judge to whom your case is assigned requires the seminar, he/she is serious and you must take the seminar if you want to get a divorce.
Divorcing Parent Seminar in a Military Uncontested Divorce:
If you are an active duty service member, you sometimes can find a parenting seminar that is presented at your duty station or a nearby duty station that the court will accept. Or, if you are overseas at a remote or dangerous location and not seminar is available, the judge will probably allow to to participate in an online seminar or may even waive the requirement for you altogether.
Final Divorce Process and Paperwork
Some judges will require a brief final hearing before granting a divorce, especially if minor children are involved. If there is a final hearing, only you will need to attend (not your spouse) and we usually will appear with you at the hearing at no additional cost to you. There are exceptions to this though. If your divorce case is in Bartow County, Fulton County, Cherokee County, DeKalb County, Hall County or Dawson County, plus a few others, we reserve the right to charge you an additional small “appearance fee” that is typically $200. We typically do not charge an appearance fee for Cobb County. The uncontested divorce final hearings in Cobb County are especially well-organized and very brief. When you have a final hearing to complete your divorce, you will have the final divorce documents available to you immediately and your divorce is actually final that day.
The majority of judges will grant your uncontested divorce “by motion.” That simply means that, as your attorney, we submit a written request to the Court asking that your uncontested divorce be granted without any court hearing. This is a huge advantage to you over the people who do not hire an attorney to represent them in an uncontested divorce. You simply sign an affidavit about your divorce (that we prepare for you) in front of a notary public at the end of the 30-day waiting period and send the signed original/physical affidavit to our office. Your spouse does not sign this affidavit. We submit your affidavit to the court along with your proposed final decree. Then we just wait on the judge to review your case file and grant the divorce. The judges in most counties (but not all) will finalize your divorce this way without your ever setting foot in the courthouse.
Get Started Now:
If you have questions about our uncontested divorce process or about the specific issues in your case, feel free to give us a call at (770) 794-3220 or (912) 215-7677 and we will be happy to answer your questions and consult with you about your case for 15 – 20 minutes at no cost to you.