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 $399 contested member investment could yield tens of thousands of dollars in savings depending on your individual situation.
Joining SMD is RISK FREE! SMD wants you to be fully satisfied with our program, a complete, professionally designed legal cost saving system that includes our network of discounted attorneys, our clear and easy suggested process steps, and our document platform, all proprietary content available only to SMD members. When you join, you are given access to all content, the SMD document platform, and to the names and pricing of our network attorneys. You will have 72 hours to review this content and either activate your membership or request a refund. To request a refund, you simply click the “Request Refund” button at the top of your member home page. If requested, you receive 100% of your membership fee back.
If you join as a contested member, you will have option to offer your spouse a free “courtesy membership”. If you are the “paying member”, the spouse who initially joins and pays the membership fee, your spouse will be the “courtesy member”. To offer this, which is strongly recommended to maximize savings to the marital estate, , you simply provide SMD with your spouse’s email address. SMD will send your spouse an email noting that he or she has been offered a free membership and giving instructions on how to accept this offer. If accepted, your spouse will have access to the same processes, content, documents, and the SMD network of attorneys. The only difference is that SMD can only guarantee the paying member a free consultation. (SMD pays a fee to the network attorney directly for the paying member’s one-hour consultation, not the courtesy member’s.)
Uncontested Members. If you are an uncontested member, you pick the Network Attorney with whom you wish to consult. The attorney will go over your settlement documents, help you with a child support worksheet if needed, and answer any legal questions you have. If you need legal services outside the free one hour, the attorney will offer additional services to you on either an hourly or flat fee basis to complete your divorce. You can also use our network to seek additional consultations from other attorneys. To ensure the initial consultation is free, SMD pays a fee to the Network Attorney you select for your initial consultation.
Contested Members. If you are the contested member who initially joined and paid the membership fee (“paying member”), you likewise pick the Network Attorney with whom you wish to consult for your free initial consultation from our list of Network Attorneys. To ensure this consultation is free, SMD pays a fee to the Network Attorney selected for the paying member’s initial consultation. However, if a free membership is offered to the paying member’s spouse, SMD does not guarantee this “courtesy member’s” consultation is free.
During any “contested consultation”, the Network Attorney will discuss the member’s case generally and evaluate whether the member is a “good fit” for representation in a contested divorce based on the Network Attorney’s published discounted engagement terms. Therefore, it is important for the contested member to consult a Network Attorney who has an hourly rate the member can afford.
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.
As any SMD Network Attorney you hire represent you and only you, and is strictly your attorney, SMD does not guarantee the performance of any Network Attorney. However, before accepting any attorney into our network, SMD confirms that the attorney is an active member of the State Bar of Georgia in good standing with no published disciplinary history. Further, to allow you to easily “shop” Network Attorneys, SMD provides biographical information on all Network Attorneys that includes law school, date of graduation, years of experience in domestic practice, AVVO rating, etc. as well as their historic hourly rate, percentage discount, and minimum retainer. This organized and convenient listing is ever expanding and is available to you for as long as you are a member.
Your membership is good for three (3) years from the date that your membership is activated.