There are two kinds of divorce: uncontested where the parties agree to all terms before a case is filed and contested where the parties can’t agree and need a judge or jury to resolve their dispute. Unfortunately, most divorce cases are contested, at least at first (most contested cases settle at some point, usually after a temp. hearing or at mediation).
Uncontested. In the uncontested context, most experienced domestic attorneys in the Atlanta area, for example, charge $1500 to $2500 to handle an uncontested divorce. In comparison, SMD members pay only $299 for an uncontested membership and have access to all documents and information necessary to complete an uncontested divorce. Plus, SMD members have a free one hour consultation with an SMD network attorney, who will review your settlement documents and help with your child support worksheet, if needed. So, in Atlanta area for example, the cost savings are over 100% compared to the average attorney charge.
Contested. In the contested context, the total cost of attorney’s fees depends on you and your spouse – how aggressively you are going to fight. In the greater Atlanta area, the total cost of a contested divorce – from the filing of the complaint, through a temporary hearing, discovery, depositions potentially, mediation, and a final trial – will range from $40,000 to over $100,000. Unless a family member is helping with fees, this cost is born by your marital estate.
SMD takes a “global” approach to saving our contested members money.
First, IF both you and your spouse hire SMD network attorneys (your spouse receives a free courtesy membership), you save a minimum of 20% off total fees – out of the gate. All network attorneys must offer SMD members a minimum discount of 10% off their historic hourly rate averaged over the past two years. Some network attorneys offer a greater discount. As a contested member, you will permanent access to our network attorney list, as will your spouse. Incidentally, this listing is confidential and only available to SMD members.
Second, the SMD platform, information, processes and documents empowers each member to function as his or her own “attorney assistant” to help minimize billable time. How much attorney time you and/or your spouse save over and above the “out of the gate” fee discount is up to you.
Third, in our “Anger Management” section, developed in collaboration with top mental health professionals, SMD addresses the root cause of high divorce costs – client emotion. Each spouse is encouraged to forgive, move forward, and avoid using the legal system to try to punish. If utilized, you will have the best chance to settle early, avoid an expensive nightmare, and preserve the marital estate for you and/or your children.
The $499 contested member investment could yield tens of thousands of dollars in savings depending on your individual situation.
The money back guarantee is intended to provide a “no risk” viewing of the SMD processes, content, and documents over a ten (10) day period to show our members we deliver the value promised. However, it is not intended to allow “free use” of the site during this ten (10) days. So, in the next ten (10) days, spend an hour looking at the content and documents. If you are not satisfied, and provided neither you or your spouse (if you are a contested member) have made substantive use of the site, e.g. exceeded two hours on the site, selected a network attorney for a consultation, or downloaded documents, SMD will refund the membership fee in full no questions asked. (At the time you request a refund, your membership and any courtesy membership will be immediately terminated.) You simply click a link at the top right in the member dashboard that says “Request Refund”. The card charge will be refunded in full as quickly as possible, within ten (10) days of request.
Courtesy spouse memberships only apply to contested, not uncontested, memberships. If you joint as a contested member, you spouse receives a free courtesy membership. You are the “paying member”. Your spouse will be the “courtesy member”. At the time you join, you simply provide SMD with your spouse’s email address. SMD will send your spouse and email noting that she has been offered a free courtesy membership and giving instructions on how to accept this free offer and joint as a member. However, your spouse must accept offer and set up her own membership, which will have her own login and password. Your spouse will have full access to the same processes, content, documents, and the SMD network of attorneys. The only difference is that SMD only guarantees the paying member a free consultation (SMD pays a fee to the network attorney directly for your one hour consultation), not the courtesy member.
Contested paying members will pick the attorney with whom you wish from our extensive list of network attorneys. Uncontested members do not have access to this listing and will be assigned a network attorney in your area.
No. Whether you choose to hire the SMD Attorney to provide further services is up to you and the attorney. For example, if you are a contested member and desire representation outside the consultation, you have to hire this attorney based on his published discounted rate and initial retainer terms.
No. However, any non-SMD attorney will not have access to the SMD document platform that allows for download and edit of your settlement documents in word format. The good news is SMD is free for any attorney to join. So, you can join and encourage any attorney to join, if you don’t hire an attorney in our network.
Yes. Even if your attorney is not an SMD network attorney and refuses to join (some attorneys are unwilling to offer a minimum 10% discount) you can still use the content and documents to minimize your attorney’s work load. And the information we provide will help you be a better informed and cost-conscious legal consumer, at a minimum.
No. SMD simply requires all of its Network Attorneys to be members of the State Bar of Georgia in good standing with no disciplinary history and have a minimum of two (2) years experience dealing with domestic cases. However, the SMD listing provides biographical information on all network attorneys including law school, date of graduation, years of experience in domestic practice, AVVO rating, etc. Who you decide to hire as your attorney is strictly up to you.