DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

I have extensive experience in representing clients in uncontested divorces. I am a former family law/divorce mediator, working through the Cobb County Superior Courts.

I do not represent clients in contested divorces or “uncontested divorces” that become contested. Therefore, my clients can be assured that I will not stir-up an unnecessary dispute to increase my attorney’s fee.

An uncontested divorce means that both parties have reached an agreement on all issues, including child support and visitation, the division of property, alimony amounts (if any), and all other issues, and my client’s spouse is willing to execute all paperwork, including signing an Acknowledgement Of Service, so that Sheriff’s service will not be necessary.

If there is any significant dispute at the outset, you should not retain me to represent you. However, I will offer you general advice on how to approach your spouse, in the hopes all matters can be resolved. If you have allegations of domestic violence or child abuse, you should consult with an attorney with a practice largely limited to domestic relations.

Before retaining me, it is not essential that all matters have been resolved, such as the exact days allotted for child visitation. However, you should have a strong belief that all issues can be resolved without a legal dispute.

Even with a written “Settlement Agreement” between the parties, the divorce agreement must be approved by a Superior Court judge. When no children are involved, the vast majority of divorce agreements are approved, as long as the proper paperwork is filed, and procedures followed.

When children are involved, most judges hold the parties to strict standards before approving a divorce agreement. The parties’ agreement about child support amounts, visitation, etc. does not have to be accepted by the judge.

The judge is required to ensure that the agreement is “in the best interest of the child(ren).” There are state laws/statutes that must be followed concerning the children-particularly concerning the amount of child support. Therefore, retaining a competent attorney will greatly increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

A negotiated settlement will often be more in your favor than having a judge or jury decide the matter for you. Moreover, the expenses and attorney’s fees involved in contesting a divorce are much higher than for obtaining an uncontested divorce. A contested divorce will likely end up costing $10,000.00 or more-often significantly more.

An uncontested divorce will resolve matters much more quickly. Usually the entire process, from initial representation until a judge’s Order, is less than two months. A contested divorce can be from several months to a year or longer.

A contested divorce can be very embarrassing for the parties. Anyone, except witnesses, can sit in during a trial, and, therefore listen in on the private details of the marriage, as well as your spouse’s allegations.

Naturally, when there are children involved, a contested divorce will often be very hard on them. If there is a dispute, and the longer a dispute lasts, the more likely that positions will be hardened, and relations with the children and extended family will be damaged.

The only benefit or need for a contested divorce is when you have allegations of child abuse or domestic violence against your spouse, when your spouse refuses to negotiate or is unreasonable, and a judge or jury is likely to hold in your favor. (Of course you must balance you spouse’s unreasonable terms with the expense of a contested divorce.)

Most clients, naturally, believe that the judge or jury will rule in their favor. In fact, judges and juries often split the dispute “down the middle,” giving neither party what they expected.

Regrettably, following the breakup of a marriage, one or both parties may use divorce litigation to punish the other side, rather than thinking logically about their own financial interests, and their childrens’ interests. One or both parties will often “move the goalposts back” after the other side has agreed to a proposed term for settlement.

Both spouses will likely be in much better financial shape by seeking an uncontested divorce at the outset. The finances and assets of most divorcing couples are not sufficient to finance a legal battle without severe financial consequences for both sides and their children.

I strongly suggest that any couple who cannot agree on the terms of a divorce should submit to voluntary divorce mediation or family counseling. The parties will need to reach an agreement on a neutral divorce mediator or counselor. The mediator or counselor will have no power to enforce any agreement, but will simply assist the couple in trying to resolve their disputes.

Anyone of legal age has a legal right to file any claim, including for divorce, or to defend themselves against any claim, including for divorce, without an attorney.

When there are minor children involved, the extensive paperwork required, including Affidavits and complex child support calculations, makes it very difficult for a non-lawyer to obtain a divorce. In fact, changes in divorce law over the past couple of years required domestic lawyers to undergo a steep learning curve.

Particularly when children are involved, and/or when the couple has significant financial assets, a thorough “Settlement Agreement” needs to be prepared. This agreement sets out the details of child visitation, health insurance issues, guidelines for selling the marital home, if desired, and many other issues. A “Parenting Plan” must also be prepared, which deals with many issues concerning the parents’ future relationship with their children and ex-spouse.

There are, surprisingly, many divorcing couples who are on fairly good terms with their spouses and simply agree that they should no longer be together. Nonetheless, I strongly recommend that the spouse who has retained me require a very detailed Settlement Agreement, particularly when children are involved. I believe it is a mistake to represent oneself when children are involved.

I warn clients that the relationship may change once the former spouse begins dating or remarries. Of particular concern: The former spouse’s future partner may be someone that you do not want around your children, and problems may ensue. Therefore, the rights and obligations of each party should be fully spelled out in a Settlement Agreement.

Many potential clients seeking a divorce without minor children may have no known issues with their spouse related to property division, debt, tax liabilities, retirement accounts, etc. It may be reasonably possible for these individuals to obtain a divorce without an attorney. But, I believe that a thorough Settlement Agreement, prepared by a competent attorney, is in their best interests.

An uncontested divorce between a couple without minor children and without significant financial assets is not highly difficult. Yet, there are significant paperwork and procedures to be followed. For most individuals, the process will go much more smoothly if handled by an attorney.

No. It is unethical for an attorney to represent two individuals when there is an inherent conflict of interest, such as a divorce situation. This is the case even though both spouses may come to the attorney in full agreement on all anticipated issues.

If dual representation was allowed, the attorney would very likely find himself with a conflict. He would likely see that one of the spouses was agreeing to something not in his or her best interests, and which might cause problems in the future. Since an attorney must fully look out for the best interests of every client, he has a legal duty to inform the client of any problem.

If the attorney was also representing the other spouse, the attorney would be breaching his duty to the other spouse by informing the other of the problem.

Therefore, an attorney can only represent one party in an uncontested divorce. Often, the parties will agree as to who will file the divorce and obtain an attorney. The unrepresented spouse, after agreeing on terms and reviewing all documents prepared by the attorney, will often sign without consulting an attorney.

Once a couple is in agreement to obtain an uncontested divorce, I will only meet with the potential client, and not his or her spouse. While the unrepresented spouse might feel more comfortable about the process by meeting me, I have discovered that the unrepresented spouse will often ask me legal questions which I cannot ethically answer since I do not represent them. Of course, the spouse can speak with an attorney of their choice and have their attorney review any documents.

I initially will meet with you, at no charge, and thoroughly go over your family and financial circumstances, and determine what you and your spouse have agreed upon. Normally, there will be quite a few issues that you have not previously discussed with your spouse.

I will ask you to obtain any needed information and to seek agreement on any matters not previously discussed. This process can last a few days or can take several weeks or more depending upon your circumstances.

At our initial meeting, I will review my Retainer Agreement, which discloses the terms of my legal representation. I will encourage you not to make the initial attorney’s fee payment unless you are confident that you and your spouse have or will reach full agreement on all issues.

When all facts have been obtained and if all issues are resolved, and you have signed a Retainer Agreement and made your initial attorney’s fee payment, I will prepare all initial documents for you and your spouse’s review.

If all is agreeable, and after any revisions and edits have been made, I will prepare the originals for signing by both parties. Your spouse will need to take the documents to a Georgia notary, and sign in their presence. I will notarize your signatures.

Once all documents are signed, and after the final installment payment of attorney’s fees has been made, I will file the divorce Complaint (lawsuit) and required papers with the Court. In Georgia, divorce actions must be filed in Superior Court.

The following are the documents, pleadings, and forms that I must initially prepare for initial filing with the Court (some of which require one or both spouses’ signatures):

  • GEORGIA DOMESTIC RELATIONS CASE FILING FORM
  • STATE OF GEORGIA REPORT OF DIVORCE FORM
  • COMPLAINT FOR DIVORCE (The actual lawsuit)
  • VERIFICATION OF COMPLAINT
  • WAIVER OF JURY TRIAL/CONSENT TO TRY
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SERVICE AND JURISDICTION (This document accomplishes legal service of process on the spouse without the need to have a Sheriff’s Deputy personally serve the spouse).
  • CHILD SUPPORT WORKSHEET-WITH LAST 2 PAYSTUBS FROM EACH PARTY-AND SUPPORTING SCHEDULES
  • PARENTING PLAN (Normally an 8-10 page detailed document)
  • SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (Normally a 12-15 page detailed document)
  • CHILD SUPPORT ADDENDUM

Duplicates of all documents filed with the Court are also sent to the Court so that they can be stamped “filed” and returned to me. Of course, I will also prepare letters with instructions and requests to the Court Clerk and/or the judge. I will email or mail copies of all documents to you and your spouse.

Under Georgia law, a divorce cannot be granted until at least 31 days after the divorce Complaint has been filed.

When minor children are involved, most courts will require that the parties attend a certified “Parenting Seminar for Divorcing Parents.” The parties will be able to schedule the seminar, which is only a few hours, and is relatively inexpensive-generally less than $50.00. The spouses cannot attend on the same date.

After completing the seminar, each party will be given a Certificate of Completion of the seminar, which I will need to file with the Court, unless the seminar files the Certificates directly.

No earlier than 25 days after the Divorce Complaint has been filed, I will need you to return to my office to sign another document, which will be filed with the court. (Under Georgia law, the document cannot be signed until 25 days have passed since the filing of the divorce. Your spouse will not need to sign any additional documents).

The following are the documents, pleadings, and forms that I must prepare and/or provide for final submission before a divorce can be granted:

  • GEORGIA DOMESTIC CASE DISPOSITION FORM
  • PARENTING CLASS CERTIFICATES
  • CHECKLIST FOR DIVORCE BY VERIFIED PETITION & AFFIDAVIT
  • AFFIDAVIT OF CLIENT
  • FINAL JUDGMENT AND DECREE

After 31 days have passed from the date of filing the divorce Complaint, I will forward the final documents to the Court Clerk or the judge’s office, for the judge’s consideration. (Different jurisdictions have different policies as to where the documents should be forwarded).

Most judges do not require a court appearance to obtain a divorce-if the proper pleadings and paperwork have been provided.

Normally, the judge will review all documents, and if agreeable, will sign the Divorce Decree within a week or so after the final documents have been provided to him.

Most judges are very particular in determining whether all documents are in order, particularly when children are involved. The judge will look most closely at issues involving child support, to determine if the agreement is in the best interests of the child(ren).

The judge’s office, or the Court Clerk, will return a “filed” stamped copy of all documents, including the “Divorce Decree,” or the judge may require me to file the Divorce Decree with the Court Clerk’s office. The divorce is not final until the Divorce Decree (Order) is filed with the Clerk. A copy will be provided to you by my office, and I will forward a copy of the Divorce Decree to the former spouse.

Both parties may wish to obtain certified copies of the Divorce Decree at the courthouse, which may be necessary to provide to creditors, Social Security Administration, or for name changes on driver’s licenses, etc.

Absent resolving details concerning a house sale, other significant assets, or any retirement account distributions, an uncontested divorce not involving minor children is much simpler than when children are involved.

I initially will meet with you, at no charge, and thoroughly go over your family and financial circumstances, and determine what you and your spouse have agreed upon. Normally, there will be quite a few issues that you have not previously discussed with your spouse.

I’ll ask you to obtain any needed information and to seek agreement on any matters not previously discussed. This process can last a few days or can take several weeks or more depending upon your circumstances.

At our initial meeting, I will review my Retainer Agreement, which discloses the terms of my legal representation. I will encourage you not to make the initial attorney’s fee payment unless you are confident that you and your spouse have or will reach full agreement on all issues.

When all facts have been obtained and all issues are resolved, and you have signed a Retainer Agreement and made your initial attorney’s fee payment, I will prepare all initial documents for you and your spouse’s review.

If all is agreeable, and after any revisions and edits have been made, I will prepare the originals for signing by both parties. Your spouse will need to take the documents to a Georgia notary, and sign in their presence. I will notarize your signatures.

In Georgia, divorce actions must be filed in Superior Court. A divorce cannot be granted by a Court until at least 31 days have passed since the filing for the divorce.

The following are the documents, pleadings, and forms that I must initially prepare (some of which require one or both spouses’ signatures):

  • GEORGIA DOMESTIC RELATIONS FILING FORM
  • STATE OF GEORGIA REPORT OF DIVORCE FORM
  • COMPLAINT FOR DIVORCE (The actual lawsuit)
  • VERIFICATION OF COMPLAINT
  • WAIVER OF JURY TRIAL/CONSENT TO TRY
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SERVICE AND JURISDICTION (This document accomplishes legal service of process on the spouse without the need to have a Sheriff’s Deputy personally serve the spouse).
  • SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (Normally a 10-12 page detailed document)

No earlier than 25 days after the Divorce Complaint has been filed, I will need you to return to my office to sign another document, which I will file with the court. (Under Georgia law, the documents cannot be signed until 25 days have passed since the filing of the divorce. Your spouse will not need to sign any additional documents).

The following are the documents, pleadings, and forms that I must prepare and/or provide for final submission before a divorce can be granted:

  • GEORGIA DOMESTIC CASE DISPOSITION FORM
  • CHECKLIST FOR DIVORCE BY VERIFIED PETITION
  • AFFIDAVIT OF CLIENT
  • FINAL JUDGMENT AND DECREE

After 31 days have passed from the date of filing the divorce Complaint, I will forward the final documents to the Court Clerk or the judge’s office, for the judge’s consideration. (Different jurisdictions have different policies as to where the documents should be forwarded).

Most judges do not require a court appearance to obtain a divorce-if the proper pleadings and paperwork have been provided.

Normally, the judge will review all documents, and if agreeable, will sign the Divorce Decree within a week or so after the final documents have been provided to him.

The judge’s office, or the Court Clerk, will return a “filed” stamped copy of all documents, including the “Divorce Decree,” or the judge may require me to file the Divorce Decree with the Court Clerk’s office. The divorce is not final until the Divorce Decree (Order) is filed with the Clerk. A copy will be provided to you by my office, and I will forward a copy of the Divorce Decree to the former spouse.

Both parties may wish to obtain certified copies of the Divorce Decree at the courthouse, which may be necessary to provide to creditors, Social Security Administration, or for name changes on driver’s licenses, etc.

Most judges do not require a court appearance to obtain a divorce-if the proper pleadings and paperwork have been provided. Most likely, a court appearance will be demanded by the judge if the judge has significant concerns about child support or child visitation.

As discussed above, I only represent clients on uncontested divorces. Clients are notified upfront, and in the Retainer Agreement, that I will be forced to withdraw from representation if any issue cannot be agreed upon, after reasonable negotiations.

While I will advise my client not to agree to any term not in their best interests, my policy should assure the client that I will not promote a dispute for the improper purpose of earning extra legal fees.

I offer a two-part payment plan. I will meet with a potential client at no expense for an initial consultation. One half of my attorney’s fee for handling the divorce must be paid prior to my preparing the initial documents. For this reason, you should feel confident that all matters have been agreed upon in advance and resolved before payment.

The final payment, along with the filing fee payable to the Court (see below), are due before I will file the initial divorce pleadings (lawsuit) with the Court.

If the first payment has been made, but the parties decide not to pursue a divorce or my client’s spouse dies, or a matter cannot be resolved after reasonable efforts, I will not refund the initial payment, but I will not require the final payment from the client.

I do not have a set fee for handling an uncontested divorce, with one exception stated below. Certainly, uncontested divorces involving children are significantly more complicated, and a higher fee is required.

My Fee For Uncontested Divorces Without Minor Children Involved:

For an uncontested divorce with no children involved, no house sale involved, no alimony requested, no retirement accounts to be divided, and no unresolved property division issues, my fee is $450.00. This fee does not include the Court filing fee, which must be paid by the client to the Court at the time of filing the divorce action. The filing fee will be $206.00 or slightly higher depending on the county of filing.

For an uncontested divorce with no children involved, but with other issues involved-such as a house sale or retirement account distribution-my attorney’s fee will normally be between $550.00 and $900.00.

My Fee For Uncontested Divorces With Minor Children Involved:

For an uncontested divorce with children involved, normally my attorney’s fee will be between $1150.00 and $1500.00, depending upon the issues involved. In most cases, my fee will be $1150.00.

The client is responsible, in addition to attorneys fees, for the Court filing fee. And, when children are involved, the client is also responsible for paying the fee for the Court required “Parenting Seminar for Divorcing Parents.”

I occasionally see attorneys advertising uncontested divorces for less than $200.00 or even $99.00. It is inconceivable to me how personal service, a thorough consultation and settlement agreement, along with the other divorce documents, can be reasonably performed for such a low price.

Simple & Living Wills

My normal fee for preparing a simple Will is $300.00 per person. For a married couple, my normal fee is $500.00. (Separate Wills are prepared for each spouse). For a Will which includes a Trust Agreement for children, my normal fee is $750.00 (per person or per married couple). I do not provide federal or Georgia tax advice concerning Wills or Trusts.

My fee may be slightly higher if there are unusual details to be incorporated into the Will. Georgia Advance Directives For Healthcare (as discussed below) are prepared at no additional fee to Will clients.

My normal fee for preparing a Georgia Advance Directive For Healthcare (“Advanced Directive”) is $150 per person (waived for Will clients). An Advanced Directive is a document in which a client expresses their desires related to medical treatment in the event the client is incapacitated or wishes someone else to make medical decisions.

An Advanced Directive pertains to several health matters, but the client can limit its scope as desired. An Advanced Directive contains a component commonly known as a Living Will. The client is allowed to state specific wishes concerning medical treatment preferences, end of life decisions, burial preferences, etc.

An Advanced Directive allows the client, if he or she so chooses, to appoint a health care agent who will be authorized to make general or specific healthcare decisions under certain circumstances.

The Advance Directive also allows the client to name a Guardian for a Court’s consideration in the event a Court is called upon to name a legal Guardian. (A client may name back-up health care agents and/guardians. Often the healthcare agent and Guardian will be the same person).

My fee for preparing an Advanced Directive will also include my time going over the document with you, and discussing the various ramifications.

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THE LAW OFFICES OF J. PHILLIP BOSTON

490 N. Milledge Ave.,
Athens, Georgia 30601

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