By: Cheryl D. Kelly, Esquire
- Uncontested Divorce saves thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees. Georgia contested divorce retainer fees vary but are typically no less than $2,500.00 just to begin work. However, the attorney’s fees usually do not stop there. Attorneys normally charge by the hour and the initial retainer fee is just a deposit from which your divorce lawyer withdraws the attorney’s fees that are earned during the representation process. For example, if you pay $2,500.00 to your lawyer as an initial retainer, and your attorney charges $250.00 per hour, then your retainer fee only covers 10 hours of that lawyer’s services. These fees will be quickly drained by a lawyer and most lawyers require clients to pay more after the initial retainer is used. Even if you choose to hire a flat-fee attorney in a contested divorce, flat-rate contested divorce fees are usually much higher than the cost of the attorney’s fees associated with an uncontested divorce. Keep in mind that the vast majority of divorces, even those that start out as contested, end up settling before a trial. Imagine paying tens of thousands of dollars to a lawyer to fight, then ultimately agreeing on all issues with your spouse.
- Uncontested Divorce costs less in other potential court costs. Attorney’s fees are not the only costs that could come up in a contested divorce. Some of these extra costs include court reporter fees, filing fees, postage fees, large document copy fees, etc. If parties are fighting over financial issues, a court could order one or both parties to pay for a financial expert, which is usually several hundred, or even several thousand, dollars. Similarly, if parties cannot agree on child custody, one or both parties may be ordered to pay for a custody investigation to be completed, which usually also costs several thousand dollars. When a court orders parties to pay these additional expenses, it is not optional.
- Uncontested Divorce gives divorcing parties more control over their lives and future. When spouses decide to have a contested divorce, they give a lot of power to the court. During the contested divorce process, the court could order invasive and expenses investigations, whether or not both parties want them, which means parties have less control of their privacy and finances during the process. The ultimate decision about many of the most important parts of their lives is left to a judge that does not know them or their children. While sometimes, involvement of a judge is necessary, like in the case of abuse, usually parties can come to agreements that make more sense for their unique divorcing family, and allow both parties to remain in control of their lives and their future.
- Uncontested Divorce is typically less emotionally draining on you, your spouse, your children, other family members, and even family friends. Contested divorces usually impact the whole family and sometimes, even friends and co-workers. In order to gather information and prove the things each party needs to prove to get what they want, usually witnesses must participate in the court process. Family friends are pressured to become involved and pick sides. Throughout the process, children witness the tense and often volatile relationship between their parents. Uncontested divorces significantly reduce family tension that usually comes along with ugly court battles.
- Uncontested Divorce is typically faster than contested divorce. If all divorce documents are completed and filed properly, a Georgia court can finalize an uncontested divorce in as little as 31 days from the date the divorce is filed, and the spouse listed as Respondent/Defendant acknowledges service of the divorce. Contested divorces usually take more than 6 months, and they very often last several years. The longer your divorce, the longer you stay married.
- Uncontested Divorce usually allows parties to avoid ever appearing in a courtroom. Most courts allow divorcing parties that have resolved all issues by agreement to avoid appearing in court. However, in order for court to finalize your divorce without a court appearance, all documentation must filed correctly, and the proper request must be submitted at the correct time to allow the parties to obtain a divorce decree without a going to a court hearing.
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