Common Questions and Answers About Filing for Uncontested Divorce
Do I need a parenting plan if my spouse and I agree to share custody? When do husbands qualify for alimony payments? Can I sell the house if the deed is in my spouse’s name? Visit our FAQ page to get answers to all of your questions about uncontested divorce in Georgia.
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What is the difference between contested and uncontested divorce?
There are two ways to classify a divorce: contested and uncontested. Uncontested divorce involves spouses who agree on the separation of their assets and dissolving of the marriage. In a contested divorce, the parties may not agree on the terms of divorce, which parent should house the children, or even whether they want a divorce.
What Steps Are Involved in Contested and Uncontested Divorce?
When couples agree to the terms of separation, they need only ensure that the terms are fair and file the necessary paperwork to make the divorce legal. In contrast, a contested divorce is often complicated and usually involves representation by a divorce attorney. If the case progresses to trial, spouses will have to endure the stress and legal fees of an ongoing court case, and they will be bound by the judge’s verdict.
The process of a contested divorce generally includes:
- Filing the petition. One spouse must prepare and deliver the divorce petition to the other. After the served spouse responds to the petition, it can be filed with the court.
- Discovery. Both spouses will be expected to provide information necessary to prove and disprove elements of the case. This can involve gathering records, contacting witnesses, and taking depositions.
- Negotiation. Once each side has an idea of the information that could come up in court, attorneys begin to negotiate settlement proposals between the spouses. Settlements are the preferred resolution to contested divorces because they are less costly than going to trial and there is no need for appeal. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to divorce court.
- Trial. Throughout the trial, both spouses will present witnesses, respond to attorney’s questions, and endure cross-examining by the other side.
- Decision. At the end of the trial, the judge will decide which spouse receives which assets, how debt will be allocated, who will receive custody of the children, and how much support must be paid.
- Appeal. If either spouse disagrees with the judge’s decision, he or she may file an appeal to a higher court.
There are far fewer steps involved in uncontested divorces. For this reason, it's a good idea for couples who do not agree on the specifics of their divorce to seek an attorney’s advice. A good divorce attorney can help you work out amicable terms for separation, allowing you to file an uncontested divorce and avoid going to court.
We can help you decide which divorce option is right for you. Fill out your contact information to speak with a Georgia divorce attorney today.
How long does an uncontested divorce take?
The time it will take for your divorce to be processed can vary depending on the details of your case. On one hand, state law requires a waiting period of only 31 days on uncontested divorces, meaning that a divorce could be final about a month after everything is filed. On the other hand, divorces are rarely finalized within a month, and any problems during the process can delay finalization by several months.
Three Things That Can Change How Long it Takes Before Your Uncontested Divorce Is Final
The first thing to realize is that the court needs to review your case before your divorce can be accepted. Your case will only be given to a judge to review after 31 days have passed—and then it will likely be added to the backlog of cases in your local court.
The time it takes to finalize your divorce will also be affected if:
- You no longer live in Georgia. To file for divorce in Georgia, at least one spouse must be currently living in the state and must have lived here for at least six months before filing. You and your spouse can still be living together at the time you file for divorce.
- You request a temporary court order. If you have reason to fear your spouse, you can ask for a temporary court order to be scheduled immediately. You and your spouse must be present at this short hearing to resolve questions of child custody, visitation, support, or property disputes. The judge will issue an order binding you and your spouse from taking specific actions (such as selling assets) until trial.
- The judge requests a hearing. While many uncontested divorces do not require hearings, a judge can potentially request a hearing for any case. The hearing itself may only take an hour, but scheduling hearings can often take weeks or months if the court has a high caseload.
No matter how long your uncontested divorce takes, it will take much longer if your divorce goes to trial. On average, Georgia spouses who cannot agree on the terms of their separation wait more than a year before they can move on. If you and your spouse have made the decision to separate, we can help you file your uncontested divorce with a minimum of fuss. Call us today or fill out your contact information to speak with a Georgia divorce attorney.
How much does an uncontested divorce cost?
The cost of finalizing an uncontested divorce can vary by hundreds of dollars depending on where you live and the details of your marriage. For instance, spouses who agree to the terms of their separation have a much better chance of spending less to make their divorces final, as do spouses who do not have minor children and do not own any property.
Factors That Influence the Cost of an Uncontested Divorce
Since contested divorces are usually settled through expensive and lengthy court cases, filing for an uncontested divorce already drastically reduces how much your divorce proceedings will cost. In fact, some divorcing couples may be able to complete their uncontested divorces for the costs of filing fees alone.
The amount you could pay to file for an uncontested divorce depends on:
- If you represent yourself. You may be able to save on costs if you do not want to hire an attorney for your divorce, but you will likely have to do much more work as a result. You will still need to purchase, print, and complete the appropriate state-specific forms and documents necessary for your divorce to be legal, deliver these to your spouse, and ensure that they are filed correctly and on time.
- If you need the help of an attorney. If you hire a lawyer to handle the filing of your uncontested divorce, your costs will be determined either by a flat fee or an hourly rate. Many attorneys can also be hired simply to look over your documents for accuracy and top spot potential problems, which may cost less than representation.
- Filing fees and additional costs. No matter whether you are represented by an attorney or not, you and your spouse will be responsible for any court costs and filing fees necessary to finalize the paperwork. Georgia filing fees for an uncontested divorce are generally around $200, and for an additional fee, the sheriff or an appointee from the court can deliver your petition to your spouse.
We can help you finalize your negotiations with your spouse and ensure that the terms of your divorce leave you with a fair amount of assets and property. Fill out your contact information to speak to a Georgia divorce attorney today about your situation.
What is an uncontested divorce?
The simplest form of divorce in Georgia is an uncontested divorce, which occurs if both spouses can agree on the terms of separation. In addition to being less costly, uncontested divorces are less complicated and typically take less time to finalize than contested divorces.
Could My Spouse and I File for an Uncontested Divorce?
You can file for uncontested divorce if you and your spouse do not need the court to divide assets or make any determinations in the dissolution of your marriage. If you qualify for uncontested divorce, you may not need to appear in court, you can file the paperwork on your own behalf, and the divorce can be made be final in as little as one month.
You probably have an uncontested divorce if you and your spouse:
- Agree over shared property and finances. You and your spouse should have a clear understanding of what will happen to any shared property after separation. Property does not only include assets—such as houses, cars, boats, jewelry, bank accounts, and furnishings—but also any debts that are in both spouses’ names.
- Agree on custody of children. Spouses with minor children will have to think very carefully about the custody arrangements they agree to before divorcing. Every family will have its own unique challenges in finding a custody agreement that works for both the parents and the children. There must be total agreement on how parenting time and parenting responsibilities will be shared, and what will happen if the terms are not met.
- Agree on spousal and child support. There are many factors that can affect which spouse is entitled to support, as well as how much these support payments should be. Spousal support, commonly known as alimony, is support paid to a former spouse to make up for the loss of shared income. Child support is a periodic, court-ordered payment from a former spouse that is used to provide food, shelter, healthcare, and other necessities.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on a particular point, you do not necessarily have a contested divorce. You can hire an attorney to mediate between you and your spouse to help you iron out the finer details, negotiating an agreeable compromise. After a compromise is reached, you can move forward with an uncontested divorce. Call us today or fill out your contact information to speak with a Georgia divorce attorney about your situation.