Are you facing a divorce in Douglasville, GA? Most couples would prefer an uncontested divorce to a lengthy and emotionally draining court battle.
You might imagine that you don’t need a lawyer since the divorce is amicable (or so you hope). You might expect that you can save money by representing yourselves. Unfortunately, these assumptions turn out to be wrong for too many divorcing couples.
Uncontested divorces often go wrong for spouses who try to handle it on their own. For example, unexpected disputes may erupt over issues arising later in the divorce process that neither spouse thought of at first. Emotions run high, rendering it difficult to make objective decisions on issues that will affect both of you for years to come.
How Bardley McKnight Law Can Help With an Uncontested Divorce in Douglasville, GA
Managing even an uncontested divorce can be trickier than most people realize. Our Douglasville uncontested divorce attorneys will bring decades of combined experience to the table for you. We have successfully guided our clients through some of the most challenging times of their lives, and we relish the opportunity to do the same for you.
Bardley McKnight Law can assist you with your divorce case in various ways.
Some of the ways we can help you with an uncontested divorce in Douglasville, Georgia include:
- Streamlining the divorce process without sacrificing your interests in the process: This can save you time, money, and stress.
- Drafting and reviewing agreements regarding child custody, property division, and support obligations: Poorly drafted agreements are invitations to future conflict, while well-drafted agreements can help keep the peace.
- Mediation and conflict resolution: Facilitating constructive dialogue between you and your spouse can help you reach an agreement on even the most complex matters.
- Guidance on the financial implications of your decisions: These implications are not always obvious, and the consequences of bad decisions can be disastrous.
- Asset valuation and division: We offer experience in valuing and equitably dividing major assets such as businesses, investments, and retirement accounts.
- Assistance with child support and alimony calculations: We can help you generate accurate estimations of reasonable child support and alimony arrangements that comply with Georgia state guidelines.
- Advising you on your rights and responsibilities: This will allow you to make informed decisions that enhance your best interests and the best interests of your children.
Contact our divorce attorneys online or by telephone, or set up an appointment to meet at our Douglasville, GA office.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is a “friendly” divorce.
Regardless of the personal feelings of the divorcing spouses, both parties agree on all major issues generated by the divorce, including the following:
- Property and debt division
- Child custody and visitation, assuming the couple has children. The couple agree on custody, visitation, and the division of parenting responsibilities. This agreement should include both the child’s living arrangement and who has the authority to make decisions for the child, such as where they will go to school.
- Who will pay child support payments, how much, and for how long: The parties must follow Georgia state guidelines because the “best interests of the child” standard prevails over any contrary agreement between the parents.
- Spousal support (alimony): The divorcing spouses must agree on both the amount and duration of such payments. Of course, they may agree that neither party pays spousal support.
The parties will record their agreement in written form and present it to the court for approval. The court will probably approve the agreement unless any of its terms violate Georgia law or the “best interests of the child” standard.
The Legal Requirements for Uncontested Divorces in Douglasville, Georgia
Georgia applies the following standards for uncontested divorces:
- Residency requirements: At least one spouse must have lived in Georgia for at least six months immediately prior to filing for divorce.
- Agreement on all issues: There must be no outstanding disputes between the divorcing spouses on any divorce-related matter.
- The parties must have grounds for divorce. The parties can claim that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Since this is a no-fault ground for divorce, the court will not refuse to divorce you.
- A marital settlement agreement: The couple must sign a marital settlement agreement.
- The spouses must submit a parenting plan if there is at least one minor child from the marriage. This plan must describe custody and visitation at the very least.
- Financial affidavit: The judge might require the spouses to submit financial affidavits detailing their income, debts, assets, and expenses. A false statement on an affidavit can result in a criminal prosecution.
- Child Support Worksheet (if there is at least one minor child from the marriage): This document outlines child support issues in accordance with Georgia law.
- Waiting period: Georgia requires a 30-day waiting period before a couple can receive an uncontested divorce. The judge will finalize the divorce at the end of the waiting period.
- Final hearing: Some (but not all) judges require a hearing before they will finalize an uncontested divorce. Many judges skip the hearing phase.
Failure to comply with the terms of an uncontested divorce cannot stop the divorce from occurring over the objections of either spouse. However, it can turn an uncontested divorce into a contested divorce.
Is an Uncontested Divorce the Right Move for You?
Uncontested divorces are not right for everyone. Some divorces start out as uncontested but later descend into bitter acrimony. You and your spouse must be able to communicate effectively with each other – a benefit that many divorcing couples lack.
Keep in mind that even if you communicate well enough with your spouse to seek an uncontested divorce, it still makes sense to retain a lawyer.
The Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce in Douglasville, Georgia
Most divorcing spouses would prefer an uncontested divorce, whether it is possible or not.
Some of the benefits of an uncontested divorce include:
- It’s cost-effective: Uncontested divorces usually cost a lot less than contested divorces due to lower legal fees and fewer court costs.
- It’s quicker: Disputes take a lot more time to resolve than agreements do. Some uncontested divorces resolve in a single hearing.
- Lower stress: Even uncontested divorces are stressful. Contentious legal proceedings, however, intensify an already stressful process.
- Control and flexibility: An agreed-upon solution might incorporate creative ways of solving problems, transcending the “winner vs. loser” mentality of contentious divorce proceedings.
- Less paperwork and red tape: Uncontested divorces are simpler than contested divorces.
- It’s better for the children (if you have any): An amicable divorce benefits the children even more than it benefits the divorcing spouses.
- It helps preserve the relationship between you and your spouse. If you have minor children, you’re going to have to work together even after a divorce. Keeping things civil during divorce proceedings can help smooth things over later.
- Predictability: Unpleasant surprises are less likely if you agree to all terms in advance.
Despite all of these benefits, an uncontested divorce simply won’t work for every couple.
Explanation of the Uncontested Divorce Process in Georgia
Following are the steps you need to file for divorce in Douglasville, Georgia:
Step One: File for Divorce
You can file your divorce papers in the Superior Court clerk’s office in the county where your spouse lives. You can also file in the county where you live if your spouse doesn’t live in Georgia or if you and your spouse used to live together in the Georgia county where you are now living.
Step Two: Serve the Divorce Papers on Your Spouse
You need to notify your spouse in writing of the divorce proceedings, even if they already know about it. Typically, you will pay a neutral third party to personally deliver the appropriate documents to your spouse.
Your spouse can make things difficult for you if they deliberately evade service of process. Things are a lot easier if your spouse submits an Acknowledgment of Service form, which is what you would expect them to do in an uncontested divorce.
Wait for Your Spouse to Respond
Your spouse has 30 days to respond to avoid a default judgment. Again, this should be simple in the case of an uncontested divorce.
Dissolution of Your Marriage
The court will have the power to dissolve your marriage starting 31 days after your spouse sends the Acknowledgement of Service. The court will probably accept all of the terms of your divorce settlement, and they will become part of your legally binding divorce decree.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation With Our Douglasville Uncontested Divorce Lawyers
An uncontested divorce is the cheapest and most stress-free route to divorce that you can take in Douglasville, GA. Even an uncontested divorce, however, has its pitfalls and dangers. We can help you avoid them.
If you are considering divorce or are already in divorce proceedings, don’t hesitate to contact us for an initial consultation. Call the Douglasville uncontested divorce lawyers at Bardley McKnight Law today to get started.