Family Law

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce means that the parties have an across-the-board agreement on all of the issues that need to be legally resolved in their divorce. If the parties have children, this means they are in agreement on custody, visitation, the amount of child support to be paid by the non-custodial parent, etc. The parties must also be in agreement as to how they will divide their assets (real estate, vehicles, retirement accounts, etc.) and their debts (credit card bills, mortgage payments, car payments, etc.).


Can you represent me and my spouse in an uncontested divorce?

No. It is legally impossible for an attorney to represent both sides in an uncontested divorce. It also violates the Rules of Professional Conduct to somehow attempt to do so. In an uncontested divorce, one party is represented by the attorney drafting the necessary documents, and the other party has no attorney or can hire an attorney of his or her choosing. For this reason, you should never bring your spouse to an initial divorce consultation. You need an opportunity to speak in confidence with your attorney before bringing your spouse into the situation.


What if I don’t know where my spouse is living?

If your spouse has relocated, and you can’t find him or her, then an uncontested divorce is not a possibility. An uncontested divorce assumes that the other party can be located and is willing to sign settlement documents. You will need to file a contested divorce and serve your spouse by publication of a legal notice. Divorces by publication can only accomplish a few limited goals, so you should make all possible efforts to locate your spouse prior to the filing of a divorce.


How long does it take to complete an uncontested divorce?

Once the documents are signed and filed with the court, it takes approximately 45 days to complete an uncontested divorce.


Can I complete my uncontested divorce without coming to court?

Yes. If you are overseas with the military, or if you have simply moved away from the county where your divorce needs to filed, an uncontested divorce can be completed through the mail using written affidavits in place of in-court testimony.


How much will my divorce cost?

The cost of a divorce is directly determined by the amount of time that must be invested in the representation. Consequently, uncontested divorces are cheaper than contested divorces. Usually cases involving children are more expensive than cases that only involve property division. The complexity of the dispute determines the fee. For a fee quote for your divorce, please contact our office.


I’ve been served with a divorce. What should I do next?

You should contact an attorney immediately. If you have been served with a divorce, you have a deadline by which you must file a response with the court. If you fail to answer the divorce, you will be in default, and the divorce will be completed without you. If you fail to file your answer on time, then you are at the mercy of your spouse and his or her attorney to treat you fairly in your absence.


How is child support calculated?

In both Georgia and Alabama, child support is computed through the use of a mathematical formula. The calculations use the gross incomes of both parties, child care costs (if any), health insurance costs for the child (if any) and other child-related expenses. Your personal monthly expenses such as rent, utility bills, and credit card bills do not impact child support calculations. Only child-related expenses affect child support calculations.


Am I entitled to alimony? Will I have to pay alimony?

In all divorce cases, the issue of alimony is left to the discretion of the judge, and unlike child support, there is no formula for calculating alimony. The issue of alimony depends on one spouse’s need for the alimony and the other spouse’s ability to pay alimony. The length of the marriage, the incomes of the parties and the household expenses of the parties are factors that impact alimony determination.


Are there parenting classes I have to attend before I get my divorce?

If the parties have children, most counties require divorcing parents to attend a class to learn about the effects of divorce and visitation schedules on minor children. In Georgia, the class is referred to as the Seminar for Divorcing Parents. In Alabama, it is referred to as the Trans-Parenting Seminar. The class is usually only a single, one-night session and not a series of classes.


What is the difference between a guardianship of a minor and adoption?

Guardianships are temporary in nature and the legal parents do not terminate their legal rights as a parent. A legal parent may petition at any time to have a guardianship revoked. Adoptions establish a permanent parent/child relationship and the rights of the biological parents are terminated.


Where are guardianships filed?

In the county where the potential guardian resides.


Does the child have to be present in the county and state of the guardian?

Yes.


Who has to consent to the guardianship of a minor?

The child’s biological mother either has to consent to the guardianship or be served with legal notice of the Petition for Guardianship. The child’s legal father has to consent to the guardianship or be served with legal notice of the Petition for Guardianship. A legal father is defined as a father who was married to the mother of the child at birth or a father that is listed on the birth certificate or who has filed an action to legitimate the child.


Does the child have to consent to the legal guardianship?

A child 14 years or older must consent to the guardianship.


Where is an adoption filed?

An adoption is filed in the county of residence of the person(s) who is adopting the child. You must have lived in that county for at least six (6) months prior to the filing of the adoption.


Who can file an adoption?

In Georgia, you must be 25 years of age or over or married and living with your spouse. You must be at least 10 years older than the child. If you are married, you must file jointly to adopt. There is no length of marriage requirement in Georgia. In Alabama, you must be 19 years of age or older. If you are married, you must file jointly. If you are a step-parent attempting to adopt your spouse’s child, you must be married for over one year before filing an adoption.


What is a home-study evaluation?

A licensed agent interviews and investigates the adoption petitioner to determine if the petitioner is physically, financially and emotionally capable of adopting a child. The agent looks at your home, your finances, and your criminal background and makes a report to the Judge to determine if the adoption is in the best interest of the child. The cost in Georgia for the home-study is approximately $250.00. The cost in Alabama is more expensive but varies.


Is a home-study evaluation required in every adoption?

In Georgia, a home-study evaluation is required in all adoption cases except step-parent adoptions. In step-parent adoptions, the person petitioning for adoption will have to submit to a criminal background check in lieu of a complete home-study evaluation.


What is the cost of an adoption?

The fees vary depending on the complexity of the adoption. If both birth parents consent to the adoption, the adoption is considered uncontested and less expensive.


In certain circumstances, we will need clients to provide us with documentation at the time we commence our representation or later during the natural flow of the case. This documentation may include marriage licenses, birth certificates, proof of income, certified documents from previous litigation and other kinds of public records. Below is a list of websites where such information can be obtained as well as links to required parenting seminars, child support calculators and other information that prospective or current clients may find helpful.