Are you facing a contested divorce in Georgia?
We’ve seen people lose custody of their kids, get zero spousal support, and have to start over from scratch during contested divorces.
When you get done with this blog, you will know everything you need to know about how to navigate a contested divorce in Georgia.
This is going to allow you to get everything that you deserve in your divorce and not get screwed over by your spouse or crappy attorneys who could care less about the outcome of your divorce.
Let’s dig in.
Table of Contents
- Contested Divorce vs Uncontested Divorce
- Contested Divorce Papers
- How Much Does a Contested Divorce Cost?
- Contested Divorce Without An Attorney
- Contested Divorce Process
What is Contested Divorce?
A contested divorce is where one, or both, spouses contest some aspect of their divorce. These are issues such as child custody and splitting assets in a divorce. When you have a contested divorce, the divorce process takes much longer and the cost of divorce is much higher.
Why would you contest a divorce?
You would contest a divorce if you and your spouse are unable to agree on all issues surrounding a divorce. An uncontested divorce really means that a couple is able to resolve any disputed issues without going to court. Very rarely will a divorcing couple be able to come to a total agreement on everything right away.
Is it worth contesting a divorce?
Whether it’s worth contesting a divorce depends on what you are fighting for. A contested divorce will cost much more than an uncontested divorce. If you’re fighting for custody and alimony, it’s worth it. But if you’re in an equitable distribution state, it may not be worth contesting a divorce.
This is because there’s a lot more at stake when you are going through a custody and alimony battle, there are long term effects on your life. You want to make absolutely sure that you are getting a fair deal during your divorce process.
But if you agree on the child support and alimony, and you’re living in an equitable state, then it’s not worth contesting a divorce. This is because, in equitable states, when you’re splitting assets in a divorce, the judge will give you a fair division of assets.
What happens if the husband contested divorce?
If your husband (or wife) contested divorce, this means that you cannot agree on the outcome of the divorce process. When your spouse contests the divorce, you will have to hire a divorce mediator or go to court. The mediator will help you come to a resolution, while the courts will decide for you.
When you have a divorce mediator, you and your spouse will meet with them together. When you are preparing to meet with a divorce mediator, it’s important that you AND your spouse separately write down the top 3 things that are most important to you.
When your contested divorce ends up in front of the judge, it’s not going to end up how you want it to. We recommend that you do everything that you can to come to an agreement with your spouse on how to split assets, child custody, and alimony on your own.
The judge will do what he thinks is fair. And fair will not always align with your wants. We had a client one time who could not come to an agreement on who gets the dog in a divorce, and the judge told them to stand on either side of a parking lot and placed the dog in the middle. Whoever the dog went to first got to keep the dog.
Now, kids and divorce are not the same as dogs and divorce, but this is how they handle contested divorces.
Contested Divorce vs Uncontested Divorce
There is one major difference between a contested divorce vs uncontested divorce. If a couple is able to come to an agreement on all of the issues in a divorce, then they can have an uncontested divorce. But if they cannot come to an agreement by themselves, then they have a contested divorce.
What Is The Difference Between Contested And Uncontested Divorce?
The difference between contested and uncontested divorces is how well couples agree on the divorce outcome. If they agree on all major issues before trial, that’s an uncontested divorce. If they cannot agree on all major issues, that’s a contested divorce.
Another big difference when considering contested divorce vs uncontested divorce is how long it takes to get a divorce.
How Long Do Uncontested Divorces Take?
When looking at how long do uncontested divorces take, it can vary. Fast uncontested divorces can take 6 weeks to complete while more complicated ones can take up to a year. On average, uncontested divorces take 8 weeks (2 months) to complete.
Georgia law requires a minimum waiting period of only 31 calendar days for uncontested divorces. That 31 day waiting period does not start until the uncontested divorce case is actually filed with the Clerk of Superior Court.
Next, you have to wait on the judge’s availability. Depending on how many people are filing for divorce in Georgia, it can take 30-60 days AFTER your 31 days waiting period just to get into the divorce courts.
Also, an uncontested divorce does not require a trial, discovery, or other time consuming legal procedures. That means that legal fees will be much less expensive in an uncontested divorce than a contested divorce.
How Long Do Contested Divorces Take?
When it comes to how long do contested divorces take, it depends on how agreeable you and your spouse are. On average, a contested divorce takes 6 months to complete. But if the spouses are battling it out, it can take over a year to complete a contested divorce.
When you are going through a contested divorce, you are struggling to resolve major issues like child custody, alimony (or spousal support), child support, and property division.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on these items, the first step is to work with a divorce mediator in Georgia.
If you’re wondering what does a divorce mediator do, they act as a neutral third party that facilitates discussions between spouses. They help spouses come to an agreement on major divorce issues when they cannot agree with each other.
When the divorce judge makes these decisions for, it’s not based on what you and your spouse think is fair.
For contested divorces, judges make decisions based on divorce laws in Georgia and past case decisions that are similar to your scenario. This is the same even if you have a common law marriage in Georgia.
As you can see, “How long does a contested divorce take?” is a tough timeline to nail down accurately. It depends on how much you and your spouse battle things out.
Contested Divorce Papers Georgia
When you are looking for contested divorce papers in Georgia, you can use a normal divorce settlement agreement.
You and your spouse have both agreed to this divorce and you’ve reached an agreement on how to divide your property, accounts, debts, and/or child custody.
You can create a Divorce Settlement Agreement to clearly define the terms of the settlement with your spouse.
When you and your spouse CANNOT come to agreements on the following items, that’s what makes your divorce a contested divorce (not the type of divorce papers you fill out).
- You know where your spouse is and you are in contact with them.
- You and your spouse have decided to divorce and you agree on how to divide your property and assets.
- You and your spouse are currently negotiating the terms of your divorce and would like to create a plan for splitting assets in divorce in Georgia.
- You and your spouse plan to meet with a divorce attorney together and would like to be prepared with an outline for the division of property and assets.
If you and your spouse have both agreed to divorce, and you agree how to divide your property and assets, you can use a divorce settlement agreement to file for divorce in Georgia.
The agreement may also be used to define child custody, visitation, and child support if you have children under 18.
If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, then you will need to work with a divorce attorney in Georgia to help you with your contested divorce.
How Do I File A Contested Divorce In Georgia?
In order to file a contested divorce in Georgia, you or your spouse must have been a resident of Georgia for at least six months. If you live in Georgia, you will file in the Superior Court in the county where you live. If you don’t meet the residency requirement, you will file in the county where your spouse lives.
Can You File For Divorce In Georgia Without A Lawyer?
You can file for divorce in Georgia without a lawyer. For uncontested divorces, the process is much easier. But if your divorce is contested and your spouse has a divorce lawyer, you will want to file with a lawyer.
You should definitely consider filing for divorce with a lawyer for any of the following reasons:
- You have a contested divorce and your spouse has a divorce attorney.
- You cannot locate your spouse to serve divorce papers in Georgia.
- You and your spouse have a house, retirement accounts, or large incomes.
- You might lose custody of your children.
- You think you will have trouble getting financial documentation from your spouse.
How Much Does A Contested Divorce Cost?
The average cost of divorce is $15,000. But how much a contested divorce costs depends on how long the divorce is drawn out. Contested divorces that are very drawn out can be up to $100,000. You’re paying for things like court filing costs, divorce attorney fees, mediation fees, and property settlement fees.
Costs to File for Divorce: Divorce Court Fees
There are certain divorce court expenses you’ll have to pay regardless of whether you have a contested divorce or not.
These divorce court fees in Georgia include basic divorce filing fees and the cost to serve your spouse with a divorce petition.
You will file your divorce papers at your superior court in the county that you live in.
In Fulton County Superior Court, and other counties in Georgia, the costs to file for divorce are about $250.
In an uncontested divorce, these are the only costs to file for divorce.
But when you’re dealing with a contested divorce in Georgia, you will have other divorce court fees.
These additional costs to file for divorce include other court filings, the costs of an attorney to represent you during the negotiations, and the cost of divorce mediation.
Divorce Attorney Fees
Divorce attorney fees vary between divorce lawyer firms in Georgia. Most divorce attorney fees are flat rate, hourly fees. The average divorce lawyer fee is $325 per hour for office time and $345 per divorce court time. Some divorce firms will hit you with unexpected charges that are not included in the flat rate divorce lawyer fees.
Divorce Meditation Fees
On average, divorce mediation fees cost you about $1,000. The prices for divorce mediation fees range from $500 to $1,500. The cost to hire a private mediator is about $200 per hour, with average lawyer fees being about $325 per hour.
Other Costs to File for Divorce
When you are filing for divorce in Georgia, you will probably feel like you are getting hammered with hidden fees.
The truth is that the costs to file for divorce add up quick. And there’s a lot of people with their hand in the pot to make some money.
Unfortunately, if you are doing a DIY divorce, it’s hard to tell which services you need to pay for and which ones are a waste of money.
There are things like Parent Education classes, counseling sessions, psychiatric evaluations, etc that you may have to work through.
As you can probably guess, these things add up fast and can add thousands to your divorce bill.
The average cost of a parent education class can cost up to $350. The cost for private counseling or therapy can range from $50 to $240 for a one-hour session.
As you can tell, an uncontested divorce is a much more affordable divorce. If you are going through a contested divorce, paying for an AWESOME divorce attorney will actually save you money in the long run.
(Note: Watch out for crappy attorneys who are just running you through the mill and charging you for $300 for every email.)
What Is The Average Retainer Fee For A Divorce Lawyer?
Some lawyers charge retainer fees of $1000, while others charge $5000. The average retainer fee for a divorce lawyer depends on the lawyer and the complexity of your case. But you can usually expect to pay a retainer fee of between $3000 and $5000.
How Much Does A Simple Divorce Cost?
The cost of a simple divorce in Georgia is referring to the cost of an uncontested divorce. You’ll need to download divorce papers, which costs up to $250. The cost to file those papers is $250 in Georgia. You’ll want to hire a sheriff to serve the divorce petition to your spouse for $50. So, simple divorces cost about $600 if you file the papers yourself.
Contested Divorce Without Attorney
It is possible to complete an uncontested divorce without attorneys. But filing for a contested divorce without attorneys is going to be a lot more complicated. Technically, yes, it can happen. You should at least get a free divorce consultation to see how to navigate your contested divorce without a lawyer. This is especially true if your spouse hires a divorce lawyer.
How Do I Prepare for a Contested Divorce?
To prepare for a contested divorce, calculate your assets, debts, and income. Figure out what the grounds for divorce are in your marriage. Get a divorce lawyer who is responsive, answers all of your questions, and is proactive in helping you prepare for a contested divorce.
This is easier if you are already going through legal separation in Georgia as you may already have split your assets, debts, and custody.
There are 13 grounds for divorce in Georgia. These grounds for divorce are also known as the common reasons for divorce. They help the courts categorize what’s the driving factor behind the divorce so they know how to handle it.
For example, when there is adultery, the courts will change the outcome based on custody, property settlement, and alimony laws in Georgia.
Can You Get a Divorce Without Hiring an Attorney?
Yes, you can get a divorce without hiring an attorney. Simply download your divorce papers, fill them out with your spouse, and file the papers at your local superior court in your county. If you are having a contested divorce, or your spouse is hiring a lawyer, you should not go through divorce without an attorney.
If you are getting a divorce as a stay at home mom or getting a divorce while pregnant, be warier of getting a divorce without an attorney. A divorce attorney can help you navigate the process so that you can come out of the divorce on the other side without losing everything so you don’t have to start over.
Contested Divorce Process
A contested divorce process is a lawsuit like any other. The contested divorce process involves pleadings, discovery, motions, temporary hearings, divorce mediation, and sometimes a divorce court trial.
What can I expect from a contested divorce?
What you can expect from a contested divorce is having to go through numerous steps before the contested divorce process is finalized. You have to prepare and file the divorce papers, serve the divorce petition, respond to the divorce petition, negotiate on the property settlement and child custody, and potentially go to trial.
The contested divorce process in Georgia is as follows:
- Meet with a divorce attorney for a free divorce attorney consultation.
- Serve your spouse with a petition for divorce.
- Wait on your spouse to respond to the petition.
- Gather relevant documentation during the discovery process.
- Work towards a divorce settlement with your spouse.
- If you can’t settle, go to trial.
- File a post-trial motion if you disagree with the judge’s orders.
- Appeal the rulings if your post-trial motions are denied.
Over To You
This article should answer 90% of the questions surrounding contested divorces in Georgia. (I hope so at least.)
If you and your spouse cannot come to agreements on how to dissolve the marriage by going the uncontested route, that’s perfectly fine. That’s why we are here – to help guide you through the divorce process, mitigate your losses, and get you everything that you deserve during your divorce.
But in the event that you feel a battle looming, you should get a free consultation. We have seen too many spouses give their spouses the benefit of the doubt and get blindsided by the other attorney.
We’ve seen people lose custody of their kids, get zero spousal support, and have to start over from scratch.
You don’t deserve that.
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We just want to do our best to help you out in such a tough situation. After you fill out the form, start working on your divorce preparation checklist.
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You may not want doctors that you don’t know making major life decisions for you in the event of an emergency.
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