A divorce can be one of the most difficult things a person goes through in their life. Even when both partners have agreed that divorcing is the best option, separation could be confusing to the children, cause financial difficulties, and even place a great burden on the couple. When the spouses are unable to agree on the terms of their separation, it could mean spending even longer in uncertainty, with the divorce being decided in court.
At Cheap Uncontested Divorces, we understand that divorcing can be an emotionally-charged and often challenging transition. As such, we always try taking a compassionate approach to understand your unique situation before providing you with legal guidance. Our team of divorce lawyers is prepared to act strategically and aggressively when necessary to represent your best interests, though we always try resolving difficult divorce cases in the most amicable and legal ways. When drafting your uncontested divorce settlement, we will make sure that all your decisions comply with Georgia law, and that the agreement will protect and represent your rights in the future. Your divorce settlement should ideally reflect child support, and division of property, alimony, and child custody agreements that are in the best interest of you and your children.
Get in touch with us today and schedule your first initial consultation with one of our Georgia divorce attorneys.
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Difference between Contested and Uncontested Divorce
When following through with a divorce, there are many decisions that need to be made. These decisions mostly relate to alimony, child custody, asset/debt division, child support, and other issues. In cases where the couple is able to come into an agreement about these major issues before trial, this is referred to as uncontested divorce. Conversely, if the couple is unable to agree on one or more significant matters, it becomes a contested divorce. Keep in mind that a divorce could start out contested and then become uncontested later on as the couple works out their disagreements.
One major difference between contested and uncontested divorces is the amount of time it typically takes for the divorce process to be finalized. Generally, uncontested divorces will complete significantly quicker than contested ones. However, the term “quick” in divorce cases may still be a long time depending on your situation and the courthouse.
Another difference is that uncontested divorces usually do not require discovery, trial, and other time-consuming legal processes. This means that the legal fees charged on these cases tend to be way less compared to those of contested divorces.
Contested and uncontested divorces also differ in terms of the extent to which the outcomes can be appealed. Since both partners consent to the arrangement in an uncontested divorce, the terms of the divorce aren’t appealable. However, this doesn’t mean the agreement stands forever. If a given amount of time has passed and the circumstances change significantly, you might be able to change the agreement. However, both parties are likely to be happy with the outcome as they are making the decisions themselves.
Contested divorces that do not settle will have a judge ultimately making decisions for the couple. As an outsider, the judge will likely prioritize some things over others, which may not necessarily align with the couple’s priorities. As such, the more control the spouses have over the process, the more likely the outcome will be something that they can both live with.
Keep in mind that just because an issue was initially contested, it doesn’t have to remain that way. There are alternatives to trial, such as mediation, where both partners can come together and narrow their differences. Working with a skilled divorced attorney and pursuing mediation will enable you to work out a settlement that works well for both you and your partner.
There are some cases where the couple disagrees whether to get divorced or not. However, a judge won’t force the couple to remain married if one of the partners doesn’t want to be in the marriage. All states in the country now have some form of no-fault divorce, meaning that eventually, anyone looking to get a divorce can easily get one. However, it is possible for one party to make the process much longer and painstakingly difficult if they aren’t willing to come to the table in good faith. In general, no-fault divorces are usually premised on fundamental incompatibility or disagreement between the couple. When the couple disagrees on whether to stay married or not, this is an example of a fundamental disagreement.
How Long Will an Uncontested Divorce Take?
The time needed to complete an uncontested divorce process in Georgia (and any other state) will depend on the circumstances surrounding the case. It will mostly rely on the case details and how cooperative the couple will be in reaching full agreement.
It will also depend on the courthouse that will be considering and approving the divorce. Some Georgia courts will generally be better equipped and staffed, enabling them to handle divorce cases faster than others. However, no matter which courthouse is handling the uncontested divorce matter, the law in Georgia requires a minimum waiting time of 31 days. This waiting period doesn’t start until the case is filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court.
Theoretically speaking, an uncontested divorce could be finalized in about a month after the divorce papers are filed with the court. However, this almost never happens. Typically, it takes around two months for an uncontested divorce to be finalized. However, we have seen uncontested divorce cases taking over a year to complete.
How to File an Uncontested Divorce
In Georgia, there are a number of steps you need to follow to obtain an uncontested divorce. When representing yourself, you should keep them in mind to make sure that you navigate through the process successfully. You start by completing a “Complaint for Divorce”, which is also referred to as “Petition”. The person filing the complaint is commonly known as a “Petitioner” or the “Plaintiff”. The other party is the “Respondent” or the “Defendant.
The divorce complaint forms will differ based on whether or not there are children involved. If you’re wondering what’s the fastest route to divorce in Georgia, well, an uncontested case with no children involved will probably be the fastest. It’s also likely to be the most inexpensive form of divorce. In such a case, the complaint form will be relatively uncomplicated.
When children are involved, the complaint form becomes more complex, as there are more issues that need to be addressed. These forms will require the couple to complete a Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit, which collects detailed information about the couple’s income, assets, and expenses. The complaint forms may also differ slightly based on your county of residence, where your divorce case will be heard. You can visit your county’s website to access the specific forms you need for this purpose. You can also obtain them from the court clerk at your county’s Superior Court.
Once you’ve completed the complaint, the next step is filing it with the court. You can do this by delivering it to the County Superior Court’s clerk. The county in question should be where you or your spouse have lived for six months immediately before filing the complaint. In case you’re concerned about the costs involved, note that the court will charge you filing fees. More about fees in a later section.
After filing the complaint with the clerk, it will be served on or delivered to your spouse, along with a “summons”. This can be done in a number of ways, the simplest being to get your spouse to sign an “Acknowledgement of Service”. This means accepting the receipt of complaints and summons without the need of having the documents served by the sheriff’s office.
In case your spouse is unwilling to sign the Acknowledgement of Service, you should contact the sheriff’s office in the county where they live and have the department serve your spouse the divorce papers. If your spouse is deliberately avoiding being served, or you’re not really sure where your spouse lives, you can apply to the court for the right to serve them by publication. This entails posting a notice of the divorce in media such as a newspaper, or in a way the court directs you.
Once you serve your spouse with divorce papers, they are allowed 30 days to respond. When they don’t file a response by then, the court may enter a “default”, where the case proceeds without the participation of the other spouse.
Written Divorce Settlement Agreements
After you and your partner have resolved the issues in your divorce, you will incorporate the terms you agreed upon in a divorce settlement agreement, also known as a “marital settlement agreement” or a “property settlement agreement”. The agreement is a written contract between you and your spouse and will be binding for both of you. Every Superior Court in Georgia has agreement forms that you can fill out and provide the court as part of the uncontested divorce process.
It helps to hire an experienced divorce attorney to help you with writing the divorce settlement agreement, considering the stress that often surrounds even the most amicable of divorces. This is especially true if there are considerable financial factors or young children involved. Settlement agreements prepared with the help of an attorney tend to go into greater detail compared to the court-provided forms. This can be quite helpful, as it can help you evade future arguments about the meaning of a certain provision contained in the agreement. This ends up saving you money, time, and anxiety down the road.
Even for cases where you and your partner decided to settle things on your own, it’s wise to have each of you get an attorney to review the settlement terms with you. This will help make sure that you fully understand the legal implications of the agreement.
How you schedule your divorce hearing will mainly depend on the method you used to serve your spouse with divorce papers. In cases where both spouses consent in writing, the court can grant divorce 31 days after the papers were filed, or when the defendant signed the Acknowledgement of Service. The waiting period is 46 days from the date of serving in case the defendant chooses to default (not respond). Where the defendant is served by publication, then 61 days need to have passed from the date of the first publication.
You might be wondering if you need to make a court appearance for an uncontested divorce trial hearing. The short answer is, it depends. The need to physically appear in court varies from county to county, so be sure to check with your Superior Court Clerk. If you really don’t want to go to court, you can file a “Motion for Judgement on the Pleadings”. This will be in effect telling the court you are okay with the judge deciding to grant a divorce based on the documents you’ve provided, in your absence. Of course, it will be up to the court to grant your request.
As a tip, try to get to court a little early on the hearing date. This way, you will familiarize yourself with the surroundings and check in with the court staff. Most uncontested divorce hearings are brief. The judge will establish whether you meet all the necessary conditions for the divorce. If you have, the court issues a final divorce decree. You can also get this form online or through your county Superior Court Clerk.
Another thing you want to be aware of is if children are involved, you might be required to attend a parenting seminar. The Superior Court of Georgia leaves it up to the individual courts to choose whether to impose this requirement or not.
The cost you pay to file for an uncontested divorce case will depend on certain factors as follows.
If you represent yourself, you could save on lawyer fees if you don’t wish to hire a lawyer to help you with the divorce process. However, you will be forced to do much more work as a result, which could be burdensome for the inexperienced. You still need to buy, print, and complete the needed documents and forms for your divorce to be legal. You also need to have the papers delivered to your spouse and make sure that they are filed on time, and accurately.
If you want the help of a divorce attorney to handle the filing of your uncontested divorce, the costs you incur will be based on whether the attorney charges an hourly rate or a flat fee. Keep in mind that you can hire an attorney simply to look over your documents for accuracy and spot any problems. This may cost much less than full representation.
Regardless of whether you represent yourself or by an attorney, you and your spouse will have to pay for any filing fees and court costs necessary to finalize the paperwork. In Georgia, the filing fees for an uncontested divorce are about $200. For an extra fee, an appointee from the court or the sheriff can deliver your petition to your spouse.
If you’re concerned about the costs of filing an uncontested divorce in Georgia, you may be able to have them waived, especially if you believe that they are unduly burdensome for you. The law lets you make a waiver request by filing an “Affidavit of Indigence”, which is also known as “Poverty Affidavit” with the court.
Get In Touch with an Uncontested Divorce Lawyers in Georgia Today
If you want to learn more about the benefits of filing an uncontested divorce in Georgia, contact Cheap Uncontested Divorces today. Our lawyers have the skills and experience needed for these kinds of cases. They can effectively guide you through a process that’s not only quick but also one that can save your kids from going through unnecessary stress and tension during the lengthy divorce process.
We are based in Georgia, and we represent clients throughout the state in both contested and uncontested divorces, as well as child support and alimony enforcement. We pride ourselves on doing everything in our power to reduce the burden that’s already on your shoulder. You can trust our lawyers to carefully review your circumstances and options in your divorce case and stay on your side while protecting your rights.
We are committed to advocating for your best interests, right from the initial complaint to the last trial, despite your circumstances. As with all family law cases, we will assess your unique situation and available information to create a personalized legal strategy for you. We always do our best to get results through mediation and negotiations out of court, though this doesn’t mean we’re afraid of facing the judge. And if all else fails, we are more than ready to fight for your rights, finances, property, and child custody rights before a judge where necessary.
Our Georgia uncontested divorce lawyers at Cheap Uncontested Divorces want to represent your best interests during this trying time. Call us today at (770) 738-8224 to schedule a free consultation with one of our top lawyers.