Filing for divorce in Gwinnett County, Georgia generally costs a little under $300. Those are just the initial filing expenses. The longer and more contentious the divorce case, the more expensive it will be. On top of the court filing costs, you may have to prepare for lawyer fees, mediator fees, parenting program fee, and other costs.
To file for divorce, you will need to complete a packet of forms from the Gwinnett County Superior Court. (The forms are downloadable from their website.) File the paperwork with the court clerk, physically located on the first floor of the Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville, Georgia.
There is a filing fee of $214, as of September 2020. This is subject to change at any time.
Next, the Summons included in your paperwork must be formally served to your spouse to notify them of the divorce action. Formal service is usually done by the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department for a $50 fee. Alternatively, you may hire a private process server instead, who will charge their own variable fee. If your spouse cannot be located, you will have to publish the notice in a newspaper of record, typically for a fee of around $80.
In Gwinnett County, all divorcing couples with minor children are required to attend a four-hour parenting education seminar. Registration fee is $40 per parent.
In a contested divorce, the judge will likely require the couple to go through an out-of-court dispute resolution process called mediation. This entails the services of a certified mediator. In Georgia, a mediator may charge anywhere from $125 to $300 an hour.
According to a survey by lawyer network Martindale-Nolo, an average Georgia divorce can cost as much as $12,700, but it will be significantly cheaper if the case is uncontested.
An uncontested divorce proceeds without dispute – both spouses agree on all matters and sign the settlement agreement straight away. But in a contested divorce, unresolved disagreements on property division, spousal support, child custody, or other issues can lengthen the process and increase the costs for each party.
One major consideration is having a lawyer. It is wise to be guided by an attorney if your spouse is disputing your legal claims. Most divorce lawyers ask for an initial upfront payment called a retainer fee, then bill by the hour against this retainer. Others charge flat rates instead, with a schedule of fees outlining the various types of divorce cases and their corresponding flat rates.
In both types of billing, a contested divorce will cost more, either because it requires more lawyer hours or is set with a higher flat fee.
Apart from a lawyer, you might also need to enlist an expert on your side, particularly if the divorce case proceeds to litigation. Matters such as child custody may require a child development expert or a mental health professional to testify in a hearing. If you have more complex legal issues, such as assets, debts, and taxes, you may also want to hire the appropriate experts to advise you. Such professionals will charge their own fees for their services.
Along with all this, miscellaneous expenses will also pile up the longer the divorce takes. Paperwork, postage, and transportation are some common expenditures to factor in.
Is there a way to mitigate the costs of a contested divorce? One option is to go through mediation. Facilitated by a neutral mediator, this process aims to help the spouses find common ground in a less antagonistic manner. Many mediated divorces are settled without going to court, cutting the duration and costs of the divorce proceedings.
If you and your spouse choose mediation – or if you are mandated by a judge to do so – you’ll need to consider the mediator’s fee, which you will typically have to pay individually. Note, however, that not all divorce cases can be resolved via mediation. Some couples have extremely contentious relationships that this dispute resolution may not work for them. Mediation is also not appropriate if there is a history of abuse between the spouses.
Certain court filing fees in Gwinnett County may be waived (cancelled) for individuals with an indigent status. To get a fee waiver, you must file a “pauper’s affidavit”, in which you correctly disclose your financial information. A judge will then decide whether or not to grant you indigent status.
If you have questions or concerns about your particular divorce situation, reach out to a reliable attorney for sound legal advice. Trust in Attorney Sharon Jackson. She has been helping Gwinnett County clients for more than 15 years now, guiding them to their best options in the divorce process.
Call Attorney Sharon Jackson today at (678)436-3636 to schedule your consultation. You may also contact her through online form.
Attorney Sharon Jackson LLC
175 Langley Drive, Suite A1
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
Phone: (678) 909-4100
Fax: (678) 281-0482