What if I Cannot Afford a Divorce? Are There Other Options?

by Melanie Webre
in Divorce
Husband Wife fighting over piggy bank

Divorce attorney fees vary, ranging from $275 to $800 per hour. Some attorneys charge a flat fee. Others charge by the hour or per contested issue. Therefore, typical divorce proceedings can range in price from just a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

These costs make it very difficult for some people to file for divorce. However, there are lower-cost options available for some couples that still allow them the benefits of working with an experienced attorney.

Mediation

Mediation is an option for couples who agree on most areas of the divorce but disagree on a few, and feel like they can work those out amicably with a bit of help. While these couples may have to pay for a mediator, this typically speeds up the divorce process and reduces attorney fees. Some states require mediation for couples in a contested divorce before a trial date can even be set. Mediation is shown to result in better parenting for the children and better post-divorce relationships.

Collaboration

This is similar to mediation, but instead of having a mediator help the couple work out differences, it is an attorney who helps resolve disagreements. In collaboration, both spouses typically hire an attorney, but the attorneys agree to help the couple settle the disagreements without going through the litigation process.

Uncontested Divorce

This is the least expensive of all options. It provides an alternative for couples who agree on all areas of the divorce, including support payments, child custody, and property distribution. This type of divorce can be completed, in some cases, without the help of an attorney, but it is advisable to have an attorney help you address issues such as determining custody arrangements and managing financial issues and property settlements. An uncontested divorce usually takes much less time to settle, and legal fees will typically be lower. Some uncontested divorces can cost as little as $250 to $500.

Process for an Uncontested Divorce

While each attorney will handle things a bit differently when it comes to an uncontested divorce, they follow many of the same procedures for most cases. These procedures include the following steps:

  • Initial Process: Both spouses will agree on all terms. A Petition for Divorce and Marital Settlement Agreement will be filed in the Court attesting that both spouses consent to the arrangements set forth in the agreement.
  • Waiver of Service and Notice: Only one spouse will file the Petition for Divorce. The other spouse will sign a document called the Acknowledgement of Service and Consent to Jurisdiction. This expedites the divorce process and waives service of the petition and further documents in the case.
  • Additional Forms: Even though the divorce is uncontested, the State of Georgia requires that a few additional documents be filed. If support is involved, both spouses may have to file a financial affidavit giving full disclosure of their financial situations. A copy of past separation agreements, if there were any, must be filed. Spouses must also file a Consent to Try within 31 Days, which allows the Court to finalize the divorce within 31 days of receiving the petition.
  • Final Process: If a divorce is uncontested, and there are not any minor children involved, a divorce may be finalized as soon as 31 days after the divorce case is filed. A hearing may be required, but it only involves the spouses appearing before the judge and answering a few questions to be sure the divorce is of mutual consent. A hearing may not be required if there are no minor children and there is no real property to be divided.

Contact an Attorney

Whatever route you decide to go with your divorce, from the most amicable process to a fully contested dispute, the attorneys at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor have the experience to handle your divorce so that it can be done as quickly and with the least amount of expense as possible. With several locations around the Atlanta area, there is a convenient location to meet your needs.