Filing for divorce in Georgia generally costs a little over $200. While in every case an uncontested divorce in which both parties agree to the separation and terms of the dissolution is faster and less expensive than a contested divorce, prices vary from county to county. In some counties, a spouse filing a contested petition for divorce may be charged a fee for the services of the sheriff serving the papers to the other spouse.
If the person filing the petition for divorce cannot afford the fee, it is possible to go to court for free. You must complete a notarized Affidavit of Poverty saying that you cannot afford the requested fee.
At no stage in the divorce process is either spouse required to be represented by private legal counsel. Using simplified paperwork provided by the local county court, it is possible for both spouses to submit a petition for divorce not contested by either side, including a written agreement regarding:
• Child support payments
• Alimony payments
• Visitation rights
• Child custody arrangements
• Division of jointly owned property
If these areas of dispute cannot be negotiated successfully by the spouses themselves, they may agree to share the costs of an attorney who specializes in mediation. Should these negotiations should lead to no agreement, the lawyer is not permitted to represent either spouse in the courtroom. Alternately, a resolution may be arrived at during court-supervised pretrial hearings. Private counsel can attend these hearings if their clients so desire.
Retaining private legal counsel can add significant expense to the divorce process. This is not a step to be taken lightly, since most attorneys of these kinds can be expected to charge at least $200 an hour for their services. If you decide private necessary legal counsel is necessary, be sure to obtain a detailed estimate during your first meeting with any attorney of what you can realistically expect to pay. Obtain an explanation of any charges you do not understand and establish a payment plan.
If a child custody agreement cannot be created by the spouses, official state timetables set standard payment fees. These can be heavily adjusted based on many circumstances, including:
• The age of the children involved
• Excessive costs related to visitation traveling expenses
• Education and daycare costs
• Custody arrangements
• Both parents’ financial contributions to the marriage
• Children’s health insurance
Another expense that may result from a divorce hearing include alimony payments. These cannot be awarded to any spouse found to be at fault for desertion or adultery. Assuming neither is the case, factors taken into account by the judge include:
• The length of the marriage
• Both parties’ health and earning ability
• The value of both spouses’ separate property
• The standard of living established during the marriage
• The period of time a spouse may need to acquire new skills or education to become self-sustaining