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How much does a divorce cost in Georgia?

How much does a divorce cost in Georgia? Read on for everything to know about what impacts the cost of divorce in GA.

evident Editorial Team
published
January 31, 2024
Atlanta skyline

Going through a divorce can be a daunting and emotionally taxing experience. One common concern that adds to the stress is the uncertainty surrounding the cost of divorce in Georgia. Many individuals ask, “How much does a divorce cost in Georgia?”

While it's hard to provide an accurate estimate of the cost, certain common factors influence the cost of divorce in GA. Understanding these dynamics can help alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty associated with the divorce process.

In this article, we will delve into the key factors that impact divorce costs in Georgia and share data on the average cost of divorce in Georgia. Additionally, we will also highlight resources for lower-cost divorce options for individuals who may be unable to afford a Georgia divorce attorney. 

By exploring these factors and resources, we aim to empower individuals with the knowledge they need to navigate the cost of divorce in Georgia more effectively.

Key Takeaways

The Average Cost of Divorce in GA

According to USA Today, the average cost of a divorce in Georgia is reported to be $14,700 for cases without children and $22,000 for divorces involving children. 

However, it's important to recognize that every divorce is unique, and the notion of an “average divorce” can be misleading. The actual cost of a divorce in Georgia may vary significantly from these averages.

One crucial factor that can contribute to cost discrepancies is the distinction between contested and uncontested divorces. The disparity between their expenses can be substantial, with uncontested divorces often costing considerably less than the reported averages.

To get a sense of the potential cost of your divorce, it's essential to consider the various factors that influence the overall cost of divorce in Georgia.

What affects Georgia divorce costs?

So, how much is a divorce in Georgia? Several key factors dictate how expensive a divorce will be.

Those factors include concrete and knowable costs (like court costs and attorney fee rates) as well as broader factors, such as how complicated and contentious your divorce is.

Knowing the relevant filing fees and average hourly rates for Georgia divorce attorneys is helpful given their direct impact on GA divorce costs. 

But remember that the broader factors are likely to have a bigger impact on the total cost of divorce in Georgia because contentious court battles cost considerably more than simple and collaborative divorce cases.

GA Divorce Filing Fees and Court Costs

Filing fees for divorce in Georgia are about $200 - $220, but the fee varies by county. 

For instance, here are divorce filing fees for a few Georgia counties:

  • DeKalb County – the divorce filing fee in DeKalb County was updated in June 2023 to $213. 
  • Fulton County - the filing fee for divorce in Fulton County is $219. 

There is typically also a service fee for having the divorce papers served on your spouse. Service fees are usually around $50.

There are other court costs for filing other motions or divorce paperwork with the court. Note that those court fees can also vary by county, and you should confirm the filing fees and court costs in your county.

Fee waivers in Georgia

You may be able to get a fee waiver if you cannot afford the Georgia divorce filing fees. You will need to file an Affidavit of Indigence (sometimes called an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis or “Pauper’s Affidavit”).

Note that fee waivers are not automatically granted in Georgia, and you will have to show proof of your financial circumstances.  

How much does a divorce lawyer cost in Georgia?

So, how much is a divorce in Georgia? A key element of the cost of divorce in GA is how much a divorce lawyer costs.

Understanding the cost of hiring a Georgia divorce attorney requires understanding their fee structures (that is, how they will charge you) as well as the factors that can influence their overall cost.

Fee Structures – Hourly Rates vs Fixed Fees

Divorce lawyers in Georgia typically use two primary fee structures: hourly rates or flat fees. Additionally, some attorneys may require a retainer fee, which is essentially a downpayment to cover legal fees and expenses.

If a divorce attorney charges an hourly rate, you will be billed based on the time the lawyer spends on your case. 

If a divorce attorney charges a flat fee, they will quote a set fee that is determined in advance. 

pros and cons of billing methods

Certain divorce cases are better suited for one fee structure or the other. For instance, a flat fee might work well for an uncontested divorce if the workload can be predicted more accurately. Meanwhile, hourly rates are often utilized for contested divorces where it is more difficult to estimate the amount of time the lawyer will need to spend on your case in advance.

Which fee structure works best will depend on your financial circumstances and the context of your divorce. 

Cost of Georgia Divorce Lawyers

The average hourly rate for Family Law attorneys in Georgia is approximately $300 per hour. (Divorce falls under the broader legal practice area of Family Law). 

However, it's important to note that this is just an average, and actual hourly rates can vary based on factors such as the lawyer's experience and prevailing market rates in your part of the state. Large metro areas like Atlanta might have higher average costs for divorce lawyers compared to other parts of Georgia.

It is helpful to know hourly rates, but an even more important factor that affects an attorney's fees is the amount of time the lawyer spends working on your case. This leads us to the next key factors that affect the cost of divorce in Georgia: the complexity and contentiousness of your divorce.

How Complicated Your GA Divorce Is

The overall complexity of your divorce matters because, as a general rule, the more complicated the divorce, the higher the potential cost. 

A crucial distinction in this regard is whether your divorce is uncontested or contested, which we will discuss below. It's important to note that even within contested divorces, there is a wide range of possibilities, so we will explain what issues contribute to a more complicated divorce process.

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce in Georgia

In an uncontested divorce, both spouses mutually agree on all aspects related to the divorce, including:

  • Alimony
  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Property division 

A contested divorce, on the other hand, occurs when the parties cannot reach an agreement on one or more divorce-related issues. It's worth noting that even if most issues are resolved, but there remains a single unresolved matter, the divorce is still considered contested.

Understanding the distinction between contested and uncontested divorces is vital since uncontested divorces are generally faster, simpler, and less expensive compared to contested ones.

How much does an uncontested divorce cost in Georgia? Well, if you and your ex-spouse can collaborate to reach an agreement, the cost of an uncontested divorce in GA may be limited to court costs and filing fees.

However, contested divorces encompass a wide range of potential outcomes. The number of unresolved issues and the intensity of disputes surrounding those issues significantly impact the overall cost of divorce in Georgia.

What makes a Georgia divorce more complicated?

Several factors can make your divorce more complicated, which usually increases costs. Factors include:

  • Children: Divorces involving minor children introduce additional complexity as issues such as child custody and child support have to be worked out. Emotions can run high, making it more challenging to reach compromises.
  • Alimony: Not all divorces involve alimony, so divorces that do tend to be more intricate.
  • Substantial Marital Assets: When the marital estate is significant, the stakes are higher, and property division becomes more complex.
  • Complicated Marital Assets: When complex assets come into play, such as ownership interests in companies or partnerships, appraisals may be necessary, and it is typically more difficult than dividing a simple marital estate.

In general, these factors contribute to a more complicated divorce process and, therefore, can increase the overall cost of divorce in GA. 

Another crucial factor is how contentious your divorce is and whether you are able to work amicably with your ex-spouse to avoid drawn-out court battles.

How Contentious Your GA Divorce Is

Even if pursuing an uncontested divorce is not an option, adopting a collaborative approach with your ex-spouse can significantly reduce the time and cost associated with a divorce in Georgia.

Divorce mediation and other collaborative divorce processes can help reduce lawyer fees and overall court costs.

While achieving a completely amicable resolution may not always be possible, striving to find common ground and working cooperatively with your ex-spouse can save you time, money, and emotional strain throughout an already challenging process.

Lower-Cost Options for Divorce in Georgia

pennies, coin, coins

There are resources that can help reduce legal expenses if you’re worried about the cost of divorce in Georgia. These resources offer a way to get legal assistance with part or all of your divorce case without hiring a divorce lawyer for full representation. 

  • Limited-Scope Representation – A divorce attorney can help you with specific aspects of your case, such as reviewing your marital settlement agreement or attending divorce mediation with you. 
  • Legal Aid – Legal Aid organizations may be able to provide free or low-cost legal services, depending on your level of income. Georgia Legal Aid  helps people find the resources available to them on their website.

And remember that fee waivers may be available if you cannot afford Georgia divorce filing fees. 

FAQs About the Cost of Divorce in GA

How much is a divorce in GA if both parties agree?

When both parties in a Georgia divorce can reach an agreement, the cost of the divorce can be significantly lower compared to contested cases. An uncontested divorce, where spouses are in mutual agreement on all divorce-related matters, offers a streamlined and cost-effective process.

In such cases, the cost of an uncontested divorce in Georgia may primarily involve court costs and filing fees, including the fees for filing the necessary documents and obtaining the final divorce decree. These expenses can vary depending on the county and specific circumstances of the case.

If you don’t have any attorneys’ fees, uncontested divorce costs could be under $1,000, including the $200-$220 divorce filing fee. But if you hire lawyers and there are attorneys’ fees, even an uncontested divorce in Georgia could still cost thousands of dollars, depending on how difficult it is to reach an agreement to submit to the court.

How long does a divorce take in Georgia?

The timeline for a divorce in Georgia can vary depending on various factors. In general, an uncontested divorce where both parties are in agreement can be finalized more quickly, often within a few months. 

On the other hand, contested divorces that involve disputes and require court intervention can take significantly longer, sometimes stretching over a year or more. The complexity of the issues, court schedules, and cooperation between the parties can all influence the timeline of a divorce in Georgia. 

The Final Word on the Cost of Divorce in Georgia

So, how much is a divorce in Georgia? Let’s recap the key takeaways. 

The average cost of a divorce in Georgia is approximately  $14,700 without children and $22,000 with children. That said, a divorce in Georgia can cost far more or far less than those averages.

When considering what will affect the cost of divorce in GA, the main factors to keep in mind are:

  • Filing fees & court costs
  • Attorneys’ fees
  • How complicated your divorce is
  • How contentious your divorce is

The expertise of an experienced Georgia divorce lawyer can be immensely valuable. However, if you are concerned about the costs involved, there are lower-cost resources that offer more affordable options, such as limited-scope representation and seeking assistance from Legal Aid.

If you have additional questions regarding the cost of divorce in Georgia, consider speaking with an experienced divorce lawyer today. And during the initial consultation, be sure to ask these essential questions to assess whether the lawyer is the right fit for you.