FAQS / FEES

DIVORCE PLANNING

Why should I seek divorce planning services?

There are few events more life-changing than a divorce. If you are contemplating a divorce or believe that your spouse might be, then it’s a good idea to find out what your life might look like following a divorce. Knowledge is power, and the process of divorce litigation can make you feel powerless and overwhelmed. Divorce planning can help you understand the divorce process and what outcomes are reasonable to expect in your situation.

What will I learn from divorce planning?

Depending on how much information you provide to us, we can help you understand the divorce process, analyze your current and possible future financial position, discuss child custody and parenting time issues (including standard visitation schedules), calculate child support amounts, and discuss possible alimony payments. 

How should I go about getting a divorce?

We can examine all of the options available to you for divorce including mediation, arbitration, litigation and negotiated divorce. Each option will have pros and cons depending on your situation.

What should I do before my divorce?

There are many prudent steps you can take before of divorce. These include gathering all relevant documentation about your family’s assets, making sure you know what debts you and your spouse owe jointly or individually, and making a realistic budget of your family’s shared monthly expenses. You might also want to keep personal notes about any other events or conversations that you believe might be important once divorce proceedings begin.

Based on your specific situation, we can discuss other steps you might want to take to safeguard your finances and privacy before a divorce. More than anything else, we suggest you “keep your own counsel” to the extent possible; the less you discuss your plans with other people, the more time and space you will have to contemplate your decision and plan your future.

What should I bring to my divorce planning session?

Before you come to speak with us we will provide you with a list of documents and other information that would be helpful for our conversation. 

Divorce Planning Fees

90-minute initial consultation - $395; $300 per hour thereafter


NEGOTIATED DIVORCE

How long will it take to for my divorce to be finalized?

It depends on many factors, including in which county the divorce will be filed. The earliest date on which the court can finalize your divorce is thirty-one (31) days after one party is served with the Complaint. This occurs at different times in each divorce.

We can talk to you about your situation and the possible timing of completion of your divorce.

CAN ONE ATTORNEY REPRESENT BOTH PARTIES IN A NEGOTIATED OR UNCONTESTED DIVORCE?

An attorney can only represent one party in the divorce. 

Negotiated Divorce Fees

Our fee for a negotiated divorce starts at $3,000.00 and depends on the complexity of your case. For example, our fee would increase for divorces involving minor children or extensive or complex asset division. We will discuss your situation with you and provide you with a fee for your divorce.


QDROS

WHAT IS A QUALIFIED DOMESTIC RELATIONS ORDER?

A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is a court order that orders a retirement plan administrator to pay some or all of an employee’s retirement benefits to that employee’s former spouse. For example, if a divorcing couple agree to divide the wife’s 401(k) plan then they will need to submit a QDRO to the 401(k) plan administrator detailing how that division should occur. 

DO I NEED A QRDO?

QDROs are part of the regulatory structure of The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Therefore, any plan that is subject to ERISA will require a QDRO to divide a participant's plan account. These plans include both defined benefit plans (traditional pension plans paying an annuity upon retirement), defined contribution plans (401(k), 457(b), 403(b) plans), and cash balance pension plans. Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) do not require QDROs to be divided and can be divided by completing the appropriate forms required by the plan administrator. 

CAN EVERY PLAN BE DIVIDED WITH A QDRO?

It is not safe to assume that all retirement benefits are divisible at the time of divorce. Many companies provide "non-qualified" retirement benefits to their highly-compensated employees. These plans often have names like "supplemental," "non-qualified," "excess benefit," or "SERP." Generally, these types of benefit plans are not subject to ERISA and, therefore, cannot be divided by a QDRO. Similarly, under Georgia law, certain governmental retirement plans, for example, the Georgia State Teachers Retirement Plan and the Employees' Retirement System are not required to accept QDROs.

QUALIFIED DOMESTIC RELATIONS ORDER FEES

Our fee for preparing a QDRO for a defined contribution plan (for example, a 401(k) or 403(b) plan) starts at $800 for our current divorce and at $1,300 for all other clients. 

Our fee for preparing a QDRO for a defined benefit plan (for example, a pension plan paying an annuity upon retirement) starts at $1,200 for our current divorce and at $1,700 for all other clients. 


ESTATE PLANNING

IF I GET A DIVORCE DO I NEED A NEW ESTATE PLAN?

Yes. You should review your estate plan with an attorney any time there is a significant change in your life such as a birth, death, divorce or remarriage. 

WHAT IS A WILL?

A Will is the most basic estate planning document. If you die without a will your assets will be distributed in accordance with Georgia law and you will miss the opportunity to control their disposition. A will is also one of the most efficient ways to appoint a guardian for your minor children. If you have minor children you should have a valid will in place to protect them in the event of your death. 

DO I NEED A TRUST?

Transferring your wealth to a trust can be an effective way to protect and preserve the assets you have accumulated during your lifetime. A trust created during your lifetime or upon your death can provide the necessary flexibility to meet your financial, tax and personal needs. 

WHAT IS A POWER OF ATTORNEY AND AN ADVANCE DIRECTIVE FOR HEALTH CARE?

A power of attorney and an Advance Directive for Health Care are an integral part of every estate plan because they allow you to provide guidance and direction to your family or other loved ones about your care and also provide them with the means to carry out your wishes.

  • A Durable Power of Attorney should be put in place in order to allow your spouse or other trusted friend or associate, known as your agent, to make decisions and take actions with respect to your finances. This power of attorney is durable because your agent’s powers to make decisions about your finances does not end if you become incapacitated for any reason. Your agent’s power can begin at the time the power of attorney is executed or at a designated future time. The power of attorney granted to your agent does cease at your death.
  • An Advance Directive for Health Care allows you to appoint a person to make decisions about your health care if you are incapable of doing so, allows you to make choices about withdrawing or withholding life support and accepting or refusing nutrition and/or hydration, and allows you to appoint someone to be your guardian if a court determines that a guardian in necessary.

ESTATE PLANNING FEES

Our fee for preparing an estate plan for an individual starts at $1,500 and can increase depending on the complexity of your estate plan and the documents necessary to carry out that plan.