1. Should I Hire a Lawyer?
Yes. Attorneys specializing in uncontested divorces organize their practice in such a way as to offer the best and fastest legal services at a flat fee. Flat fees are affordable for most divorcing couples and the quality of the work is far superior to the forms that can be downloaded from county websites or obtained from document preparation services. While any family law attorney can handle an uncontested divorce, if the attorney’s practice is oriented towards litigation, that attorney is not organized to obtain affordable, fast uncontested divorces.
2. Why is a Flat-fee is Important?
Aside from the obvious fact that a flat fee tells you exactly how much the divorce will cost, it also helps the uncontested divorce attorney to offer legal services efficiently and within a budget. For example, keeping receptionists, admin assistants, paralegals, interns and other help on staff means huge overhead expenses that are reflected in the fees charged. Many of these expenses can be eliminated by having the attorney speak directly to the clients by phone, skype, facetime email and all the efficient means of communications used in business.
3. Is an Office Consultation Necessary?
No. In my experience with hundreds of cases, no in-office consultation is necessary if the uncontested divorce attorney follows procedures aimed at allowing the parties to reach an amicable agreement on divorce efficiently. This typically involves an initial telephone consultation, preliminary agreement forms tailored to the clients’ particular situation, and follow-up calls and emails as needed until the divorce is granted. If clients insist on an in-office consultation, this can be arranged for a fee of approximately $450.
4. How Long does it take to get an Uncontested Divorce in Georgia?
In practice, it takes approximately 6-8 weeks. Georgia law requires a 31-day waiting period from the date of filing to the earliest a divorce can be granted. Therefore, in expedited cases, it is possible to schedule a final hearing on day 32 after the papers are filed. This happens once in a while when one of the parties has planned a wedding way too soon and without regard to the 31-day waiting period. In typical cases, the parties prefer to avoid going to court for a final hearing and a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is filed. This is a request to the court to grant the divorce without a court appearance. The filed motion and a proposed Final Judgment and Decree are therefore forwarded to the assigned judge for the signature of the Decree. This typically takes 2-4 weeks. Add this to the 31 days and you have an average time of 6-8 weeks to obtain a divorce in Georgia.
5. How is the Decree of Divorce Delivered to me?
Since E-Filing is now mandatory in Georgia (with exceptions), A Final Judgment and Decree of divorce is served electronically on the attorney for the Plaintiff and a copy is sent to the Defendant. This means that the attorney receives the decree from the judge by email and then sends copies to the parties by email.