Divorce actions can be contested, uncontested, or “hybrid” which is typically different from the contested or uncontested actions. It should be noted, however, that many of the counties in Georgia handle case filings with slight differences. In most cases, if there are children involved in the action the parties are expected to file numerous documents when they file either their Complaint for Divorce or Answer/Counterclaim to the Complaint. You should expect to provide financial information for you and your spouse, if known.
When parties do not agree with how assets or debts should be divided between them the divorce action may be contested, which means it may require the parties to appear before Court to have their assets and debts “equitably” divided between them. The term “equitable” translates to “what is fair and just under the circumstances.” Part of division of assets and/or debts is the issue of what is considered pre-marital versus marital property. The parties may disagree as to what was brought into the marriage by either party and what was bought or borrowed (creating a debt) during the marriage. This is not the last word, however, since the parties may decide between them to negotiate these issues and reach an agreement on all of the issues, or even on some of the issues. As you can imagine, reaching an agreement makes more sense since it takes less time and less money to bring the divorce to an end.
The parties may also disagree on child custody, visitation, and child support issues. These are often the most difficult issues to reach an agreement on, and when put before the Court they make the issues to be resolved more emotionally and financially draining. These issues will drive the price of divorce higher than most other issues. For more information on custody and visitation issues, please open the tab above or click here to open that link. With regard to child support issues, you can link to them here or open the tab above.
As you can imagine, contested actions can make the cost of divorce prohibitive. Hynes Family Law Center strongly supports Mediation, where the parties with the assistance of a trained, third-party neutral (Mediator), can explore all possible means of reaching agreement on either all or some of the issues. This will, of course, reduce the costs of divorce – even those that start out highly contested.
It goes without saying that uncontested divorces are those in which the parties agree on all issues. Obviously, this is easier in cases where the parties have been married a short amount of time, there are no real debts or assets, and/or there are no children. Sometimes, however, the parties have assets to divide, debts to divide, and children to consider , such as where the children live, who pays support for the children, and who has visitation and under what conditions. There are those who have decided all these issues prior to approaching an attorney, and while it is unusual, it is easily the best way to handle something as personal and sensitive as family issues. It is, also, the least expensive way to pursue a divorce.
One word of advice. One attorney cannot represent both parties in a divorce action. One attorney can work with the parties toward a resolution, if the parties are serious about resolving all issues without appearing in Court and having a judge decide issues that are, arguably, better decided by the parties. If the parties later decide that an Agreement is not possible concerning all or some of the issues, that Attorney can only represent the person who first contacted them. The advice here is that if you and your spouse agree to the important issues, beware of seeking advice from a second attorney who may attempt to talk you out of that agreement. You and your spouse know more about your lives and what you wish to accomplish than any attorney or any judge. A Mediator can assist in this situation, as well.
When the parties to a divorce either start an action by Agreement on all or some of the issues and later find areas of disagreement, or the reverse occurs, where the parties start a divorce action with no areas of agreement and later they find agreement on all or some of the issues, this creates what we like to call a “hybrid.” As one can imagine, the hybrid requires flexibility between the parties and their attorneys. This kind of action can either cause an action to settle more quickly and with less expense than originally thought, or more expensively and with far more cost in terms of time and emotional expense.