If I do an Uncontested Divorce, do I really need an attorney to file for divorce?
The first question that many couples sometimes ask themselves is can we get divorced without having the expense of hiring an attorney?
The simple answer is yes, you could file for divorce on your own. Others have done it. However, the Courts and their staff are not allowed to give any legal advice. One of the main documents that is part of a Complaint for Divorce is called a Settlement Agreement. This Settlement Agreement is the guiding legal document as to who gets what and who pays for what. If it is created without an attorney’s assistance, you could be writing something into it that may not be enforceable or that could cause problems later in life. Additionally, if there are minor children involved, the language of the agreement must adhere to state standards, of which you may or may not be aware.
Therefore, hiring an attorney is the best way to make sure that any agreement that is prepared will be prepared properly and with all the language necessary so that what the parties intend is what the parties will get.
Definition of an Uncontested Divorce
Simply put, an uncontested divorce is where both the husband and wife pretty much know how they want to divide all of their assets and debts. This is also the least costly form of divorce.
There are usually no minor children involved in these types of cases and the parties probably have not accumulated many assets. Uncontested divorces can be filed for those who do have children, it just means that some additional paperwork is necessary regarding those children. Even if you have accumulated a large amount of assets, an uncontested divorce still may work for you.
For these, as well as other reasons, it is important to seek legal advice from a Georgia divorce lawyer when creating a settlement agreement. If you are uncertain whether you can benefit from an uncontested divorce, please e-mail me and I will be happy to provide some direction.
What are the advantages to filing an uncontested divorce?
The most obvious answer is cost. Uncontested divorces can cost much less than a contested one. Prices, of course, range from a low flat fee rate to one that can climb into the thousands. The cost to you will depend on variables such as issues, whether and how much property is involved and the number of children.
A second advantage is that if the parties can resolve their issues by themselves, they will not have to go to court. Litigation can add thousands to legal fees and very quickly. When an attorney puts you on the clock, you are paying for each minute used by the attorney, and he will also charge you for the time it takes to get to the courthouse and then back to his office. When you call him on the phone and start to chat, you will be billed for that time. Billable hours are what drives many law firms’ gross income into the stratosphere, which is something you probably want to avoid. Also, if your are called to appear at a hearing, your attorney will bill you for all the time you and he are waiting to speak to the judge. Another advantage is the simplicity of the process. Flat fees charged in uncontested divorces control the attorney’s time. He will be more attuned to your needs and will use his time wisely.
Time is also an advantage in uncontested divorce cases. Generally, you will only have to wait about 31 days before going to a final hearing to have the judge sign off on a Final Divorce Decree.
How long will the divorce take?
When the settlement agreement has been approved by both parties and case is ready to be filed in court, it will take approximately 30 to 40 days to secure a Final Judgment and Decree.
How much will the divorce cost?
The cost for an uncontested divorce is a flat fee of $800.00 plus whatever the cost is to file your uncontested divorce in the Superior Court in your county. The filing fees for uncontested divorce cases vary from county to county. Please see my Resources page for a listing of the metro Atlanta counties web sites.
Why should we use Stittleburg Law Offices?
You will meet with me, and only me. I will sit with you to review your case, help you determine what terms are important to you and then draft a Settlement Agreement. I personally prepare your case and remain available to you by phone or e-mail to answer your questions. I will meet with you prior to any hearing so that we can prepare for the questions that may be asked by the judge. At the Final Hearing for your Uncontested Divorce, the judge will ask you to take the stand, you will be sworn in and I will then ask you some basic questions regarding your uncontested divorce.