- What can I expect in my initial consultation?
We offer a free 30 minute consultation for you to meet our attorney and discuss the case. We will discuss the issues in your case and begin outlining a tailored strategy to maximize your outcome. For individuals who feel a more in depth initial consultation would be a better fit, we also offer an hour consultation for $350 to strategize more specifically your roadmap to litigation success. We are offering zoom consultations during COVID-19 and will continue to implement virtual consultations to accommodate traveling and busy clients.
- How do I prepare for my initial meeting with a Guardian Ad Litem?
Each Guardian Ad Litem requires different forms. Our Guardian Ad Litem cases require that each parent fill out a questionnaire and have it notarized then returned to our office so that the Guardian Ad Litem can review your questionnaire timely before your initial meeting. Plan to set aside 3-4 hours meeting with the Guardian Ad Litem so that the full picture can be discussed in your initial interview. Write down any questions or issues you want the Guardian Ad Litem to investigate in the case. Remember, the Guardian Ad Litem does not represent either parent and cannot give you legal advice. When in doubt, ask your attorney whether it is a legal advice question or a question for the Guardian Ad Litem to answer.
- How long will my divorce case take?
Each case is unique. In Georgia, the Defendant has thirty days to file a response to the initial Complaint for Divorce. Many factors affect the length of time a case is pending in Georgia. For an uncontested case, you can expect on average a 45-60 day process from the date of filing the case with the Superior Court until entry of the Final order. Contested cases vary based upon the county, Judge, and the issues involved. Many cases will require the exchange of discovery requests between the parties with the parties typically having six months from the date the response is due to conduct discovery. If your jurisdiction requires mediation and late case evaluation, this could also affect when your case is ready for a final hearing.
- How is child support calculated?
Georgia Courts calculate child support based upon both parents’ gross monthly incomes (income before taxes and insurance comes out) and the number of children between the parents. A parent who pays for the children to have health, dental and vision will also get some credit for that monthly expense. Other expenses unique to your children may be considered such as daycares, nannies, private school tuition, or parenting time. It is important to note that child support is not broken down by how many days a parent has with the children, and the Judge is able to adjust someone’s child support up or downwards based on the specific facts and circumstances in the case.
- I can’t find my spouse- can I still get divorced?
Yes, if you have been a resident of Georgia for at least six months before you are filing, you may still file a divorce case in Georgia. While it’s ideal to have your spouse served by the sheriff or a private process server personally, sometimes they just cannot be found. If after reasonable effort, we together cannot find your spouse, the Judge may order that you run a notice in the local newspaper for four weeks to serve your spouse by publication. Once the newspaper has run the notice for four weeks, we can move forward with a divorce final order. There may be limitations on what the Judge can order, such as child support and alimony, but the actual divorce can be granted at that point.
- Do unmarried fathers have any legal rights to their child in Georgia?
Short answer, no. From the time the mother becomes pregnant, the clock starts to run on what is called your “opportunity interest” in your relationship with your child. The Court will consider things such as if the father helped pay for medical bills in the mother’s pregnancy, attending medical appointments, and how active the father was both during and after the pregnancy. Georgia requires that fathers who want to be legally recognized and have custody rights to children born outside of marriage file a Legitimation case in the Superior Court. The sooner you pursue protecting your relationship with your child, the better.
- If I am paying child support, do I have any legal rights to my child born out of wedlock?
No, you still need to file a Legitimation action to address the custody issues.
- How much will my divorce or custody case cost?
Family law case costs depend on the parties, the amount of experts, and the particular facts of each case.
- What do I need to do to prepare for an uncontested divorce?
The best preparation is to organize your finances and make a list of what you know and what you do not know about your family’s finances. Our office will provide clients with a detailed list of questions and common parenting plan provisions to help you think through the solutions you want in your case.
- What is the difference between collaborative law and an Amicable Divorce?
While collaborative law was intended to help families that want to be solution oriented, it has been our experience that it is outdated and cost-prohibitive for most Georgia families. One of the defining features of a collaborative case is that the experts and attorneys are disqualified from a contested case. Amicable Divorce cases have taken the positive aspects of a collaborative divorce case- i.e., agreeing to remain unfiled, involving solution-oriented attorneys and experts, and removed the disqualification issues.
- What is the difference between an Equitable Distribution State and a Community Property State?
Georgia is an equitable distribution state. That means that the Judge or jury can divide all marital assets and debts in different ratios depending on what is appropriate for the facts of the case, as opposed to being forced to split it equally.
- Can my spouse ask for my inheritance to be divided?
If you received an inheritance, then it may be considered a separate asset that your spouse is not entitled to in the divorce. It will depend on several factors and you will want to gather the documentation showing how you received it and the paper trail to where it stands today. The best advice is to keep any inheritance in your name alone and not comingle with any other assets. You may also want to consider a post-nuptial agreement or prenuptial agreement depending on your marital status and the size of the inheritance.
- How does an affair affect the division of our assets and debts in Georgia?
In many metro Atlanta counties, if no marital funds were used to pursue the extra-marital affair such as lavish gifts, hotels, or vacations, then it may not affect how much each party receives from the assets and debt division. Be mindful that that spouse may want a larger percentage of the assets if the spouse who was cheated on is still emotionally processing the affair.
- How does an affair affect alimony in my divorce?
If the affair caused the divorce, it could affect the cheating spouse’s ability to ask for alimony or spousal support.
- How does an affair affect custody determinations in Georgia?
An affair does not always affect custody determinations if it does not directly affect the best interests of the children. The Judge will want to know how specifically that individual actually harms the child. We would recommend speaking specifically about this issue with an attorney if you are concerned about the effects in your case.
- What is needed to be included in a Parenting Plan in Georgia?
The Parenting Plan should outline how major decisions on medical, educational, extracurricular, and religious decisions will be made, and who will make those decisions. It also should include a schedule for the regular school year, holidays, and summer.
- What is discovery and why do I have to answer these questions?
Discovery is the method of investigating and finding evidence or witness testimony in a case. You may be asked to answer questions under oath in Interrogatories or a deposition, along with being required to exchange documents that the other party thinks are important to the case.
- What do I need to do to be ready for my zoom, webex, or Teams based hearing?
Make sure you have a stable internet source such as a LAN line. Dress and act like you are going to an actual courtroom- i.e., do not plan on being in a car and wear court appropriate clothing such as a suit or modest dress. It’s best to set up an account and test it the day before so you do not cause delays on the actual hearing date.
- How does the court protect children from drugs and alcohol issues during a case?
There are many options for investigating and monitoring drug and alcohol issues in a case. Some courts have drug labs on site that can do an observed urine screening for a small fee with your government issued I.D. When those options are not available, private labs like LabCorp can do blood, urine, hair, nail and other screenings and tests to give a picture as to recent or prolonged usage. Other courts will order monitoring devices such as Soberlink or an ankle monitor.
- What is the role of a Guardian Ad Litem in a Georgia custody case?
The Guardian Ad Litem is the Judge’s expert and will make a recommendation as to the best interests of the child(ren). The Guardian Ad Litem does not represent either parent and cannot give the parties legal advice.
- Can my child’s therapist be forced to testify in my custody case?
Most therapists will not testify while actively treating children without both parents having signed a HIPAA release authorizing their testimony. In our experience, if you think a therapist’s testimony is crucial, it may be a good time to discuss having a Guardian Ad Litem appointed in your custody case so as to protect your child’s mental health privacy.
- How is alimony calculated in Georgia?
Alimony is based on several factors such as each party’s age, health, educational background, work history, length of marriage, and contributions to the marriage along with the budgets of the parties.
- What is the benefit of a prenuptial agreement in Georgia?
Many people find it beneficial to protect assets such as inheritances and businesses, along with addressing alimony before they enter into a marriage.
- How is my business effected by my divorce?
A business evaluation is likely to be needed to determine what, if any, marital value exists in the business. Each party may hire their own experts or may agree to use a neutral expert to recommend a value based upon the market approach, income approach, and/or the liquidation approach.
- How many witnesses can testify at a Temporary Hearing in Georgia?
Each party in a family law case can have one witness plus the party themselves testify in person unless the Judge gives permission for additional witnesses at a Temporary Hearing. The rest of your witnesses may need to testify via affidavits.
- What type of family law issues can be decided by a jury in Georgia?
In Georgia, the grounds for the divorce, alimony, child support, and division of assets can be decided by a jury. Only the Judge can decide custody, visitation and attorney’s fees awards.