Our Uncontested Divorce Process — The Phases:
PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION PROVIDED TO THE CLIENTS OF ATTORNEY ROBERT L. JONES.
This information is provided only to our clients. Please do not share this information with anyone.
This is a general description of the steps for starting, filing and completing an uncontested divorce in the Georgia counties in which we offer representation for uncontested matters. 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. But, below is at least a 90% accurate description of how we will handle your case. However, we will send you additional information by email as we process your case.
At any time, the best way to contact us will be by email. As our client, you have Mr. Jones’ email address already. As a rule, WE DO NOT COMMUNICATE WITH ANY ONE INVOLVED IN YOUR CASE EXCEPT FOR YOU. We do not represent your spouse so we cannot and will not give him/her legal advice or otherwise communicate with your spouse. If your spouse (or his/her attorney) tries to contact us, we will let you know so that you can address any issue that he/she is raising.
Phase One – The Draft Phase:
By now, you will probably have already had an initial telephone meeting with you. We have collected our fee from you. In that telephone conference we discussed the details of your divorce and planning your settlement agreement. We will have told you when to expect to receive your DRAFT Settlement Agreement.
No One Signs Anything is Phase One.
We will prepare a draft of the Settlement Agreement and email it to you (only) as a Microsoft Word document along with Instructions for reviewing and handling of the draft Agreement. If you have minor children, we will also send you a draft Parenting Plan and Child Support Addendum for your case.
Here is what you need to do:
- Carefully review the draft document(s) and follow the Instructions. Do not share the draft with your spouse unless and until you are fully satisfied with the draft(s) yourself.
- Email any change/corrections /concerns to Mr. Jones and wait for a revised draft to be sent to you.
- Once you are satisfied with the draft document(s), share them with your spouse. You can email the draft or get the draft to your spouse in any manner that seems best to you.
- When your spouse reviews the draft(s), he/she must discuss any changes or corrections that he/she may have with you — not Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones will not speak to your spouse.
- If there are any changes/corrections that your spouse wants, you must email to Mr. Jones IF YOU AGREE WITH THEM YOURSELF.
- Wait for a revised draft to be sent to you.
- Repeat this process until both of you are satisfied with the draft document(s).
- Once you are at this point, email Mr. Jones and explicitly tell him that both of your are ready for the documents for signing. There is no need for the two of you to sign the draft document(s).
This will be the end of the Draft Phase.
Phase Two — The Signing Phase:
When you and your spouse are fully satisfied with the draft Settlement Agreement (including the child support and Parenting Plan if you have minor children together), let us know by email.
We then send all of the divorce documents to be signed to you by email as PDFs with full instructions. READ AND FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS. If you have any question after you have read the Instructions, you can email Mr. Jones.
IMPORTANT: The two of you are going to sign the same, physical documents (no e-signing is permitted). But, you do not need to sign them together.
You should check the papers to make sure that you do not see any obvious errors, Next, get your spouse to sign his or her signature on all documents in the presence of a notary public so that his/her signatures are properly notarized.
Once this is done, you should also sign the documents 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. All signatures must be original, in dark ink (black or dark blue) and must be individually and properly notarized.
Your spouse and you do not need to sign together. If it is better for you and your spouse, you can sign first.
Next, collect up all of the signed documents and check them over using the Instructions and the Checklist that is part of the Instructions that we sent to you with the documents for actual signing. If you are not sure whether something is correct, you can email Mr. Jones and even scan the questionable page(s) to him by email.
Once you are satisfied that everything seems to be there and in good order, make a copy of all of the fully signed documents for your own records/reference.
Next, pay the Court Costs for your case. The Instructions for Phase 2 tell you how to do that. The Court Costs payment that you make will come to our office and we will temporarily hold the funds until we file the case on your behalf. At that point, we will transfer the funds to the Clerk on your behalf. You do not make any payments directly to the Court yourself.
Next, return the original/physical signed documents to us. Faxes, scanned images and copies are not acceptable. We must have all of the originals that the two of you actually signed. Be sure to use the Checklist and Instructions for Phase 2 when you are preparing to send the documents to us.
We DO NOT EVER RECOMMEND THAT YOU SEND ANYTHING TO US BY ANY FORM OF UNITED STATES MAIL. Instead, we recommend that you send the documents to our office by UPS (United Parcel Service — think big brown trucks) Ground service (not Express). Do not send the documents by any method that will require us to sign for the package.
The address of the office where you are to send the documents is listed in the Instructions for Phase 2 and the Checklist that is part of those Instructions.
We do not recommend Federal Express. Unless you are more than 1000 miles from our office, you are wasting money if you send the documents by any method other than GROUND UPS (United Parcel Service).
One we receive your documents we will check them — usually within 2 business days. If there is any problem, we will email you. So, if you know we received your documents and you do not receive an email telling you that something is wrong, that is good news. We are in the process of actually e-filing your case.
WE DO NOT NOTIFY YOU WHEN WE RECEIVE YOUR DOCUMENTS. UPS will do that online and automatically. Use the UPS tracking number to make sure that we received your documents and when.
We are required to e-file your case. That is not an instantaneous process and may take from 3 to 5 business days for the Clerk to notify us that your case has actually been filed.
Once we get confirmation of filing by the Clerk, we will notify you by email.
Phase 3 — The Completion Phase:
When the Clerk files your case, 3 things happen:
- A case number is assigned;
- The case is assigned to a particular judge (at random — we do not get to choose the judge);
- A 31-day”Waiting Period” automatically begins.
YOUR DIVORCE IS NOT AUTOMATICALLY GRANTED AT THE END OF THE WAITING PERIOD. We still must ask the Judge to review your file and grant the divorce.
The overwhelming majority of judges (99%) will grant your uncontested divorce “by motion.” That simply means that you do not have to go to court.
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 (only) simply sign an Affidavit about your divorce (that we prepare for you and email it to you) in front of a notary public at the end of the 31-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, grant the divorce and the Clerk will send out the final divorce documents. The judge will finalize your divorce this way without your ever setting foot in the courthouse.
IMPORTANT: There is no rule as far as how long the Judge can take to review your file and grant the divorce. It simply depends on how busy the Judge is at the time we ask the Court to complete your divorce. IT VARIES TREMENDOUSLY FROM JUDGE TO JUDGE. Some judges are simply slower than others. We will send you the final Decree as soon as possible once we receive it from the Clerk. We have no control over this final step.
DO NOT CONTACT US REPEATEDLY asking us if your divorce has been granted. Once is enough. Repeated inquiries from you do not produce a final decree any faster. They just slow down the divorce process for everyone.
Once we get a copy of the final Decree we will email it to you along with information on how you can get certified copies of the Decree. But, your divorce is FINAL when we send you the soft copy (scan) of the Decree to you by email.
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. Courts will actually permit you and your spouse to attend the parenting seminar online. See, for example Fulton County seminar for divorcing parents. 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 no seminar is available, the judge will probably allow to to participate in an online seminar or may even waive the requirement for you altogether.