In Georgia, you are not required to be represented by a lawyer in a divorce action. When a party does not have an attorney and they represent themselves, the party is referred to as “pro se”. While several metro counties have resources available to help pro se individuals going through a divorce, we strongly recommend you look at the resources on the Fulton County Family Law Division web site even if your divorce is in another county because these pages in particular have many services to help out the pro-se party. Depending on the complexity of the case, however, representing yourself could be a very bad idea and the result could be far more costly than hiring an attorney.
If you have an uncontested divorce in Georgia, you can prepare the paperwork, file it with the court, have the opposing party served with a copy of the Complaint, and represent yourself in court. If you hire an attorney, however, they will do all of this for you. If your divorce is truly uncontested, the attorney’s fees involved will be reasonable and will make sure that all necessary paperwork is properly prepared and presented to the court to help make sure the process moves along at a steady pace. New laws surrounding custody have increased the amount of paperwork that must be filed in a divorce case involving minor children. If these documents are not filled out correctly, you can find yourself traveling to the court house on more than one occasion to finalize your divorce often costing more in lost earnings that the limited amount of time required for an attorney to handle the uncontested matter.
Even in uncontested divorces, if there are children involved or if there are substantial marital assets, it is generally in the best interest of the parties to hire divorce attorneys to represent their interest. In some cases, a good divorce lawyer can provide guidance (for example on tax issues) that could provide a substantial savings to the client and thereby justify the attorney’s fees.
For contested divorces, we strongly recommend hiring an attorney to represent your interest. Divorce litigation can be complex and the failure to timely and properly respond to different procedural requirements can have a substantial negative impact on the outcome of your case.