Family law deals with domestic relations such as marriage, adoption, child abuse, divorce, alimony, parental responsibility, visitation, child support, and civil unions.
Adoption: Despite the satisfaction and joy of receiving an adopted child, there may be many hurdles and legal complications for the family to confront. An attorney can guide you through the adoption and ensure a smoother legal process.
Alimony and Spousal Maintenance : Alimony is the obligation to provide spousal support after separation or divorce. Alimony can exist for a certain period of time or until the spouse remarries or dies. It can also be paid in a lump sum. Factors used to consider alimony include the marriage’s length, each party’s health, assets each party owns, and contributions of each party to child raising, homemaking and career building.
Child Custody, Visitation and Support: Under most circumstances, shared custody is awarded by the court system. Child custody is decided by a judge who considers the sex and age of the child, and the ability of each parent to care for that child. Ages 14 and up may normally choose which parent to live with. Ages 11-13 may speak to the judge, but the judge does not have to follow the child’s wishes.
Joint legal custody is where both parents have equal responsibilities for major decisions regarding the child. Joint physical custody is where there is equal time/contact with both parents. The court can award both, or either one. The parties should try to agree, or the court will have to decide who has the right to make the decisions.
Contempt: Contempt is the purposeful violation of a court order. Failure to pay support payments, or not following custody/visitation orders are examples of contempt. The person can be punished by having to pay a fine and/or serving up to twenty days in jail for each violation.
Contested Divorce: Contested divorce needs to show some form of “fault” or misconduct by one of the parties. One example is adultery, either in the form of heterosexual or homosexual relations between the spouse and another person. Other examples are mental incapacity during the marriage, desertion, fraud in obtaining the marriage, imprisonment/conviction for certain crimes, cruel mental or physical treatment, drug addiction/intoxication, or impotency at the time of marriage. It is not necessarily advantageous to establish a “fault” divorce.
Divorce and Separation Maintenance Proceedings: A legal separation is when a couple no longer is having marital relations. To file for divorce, you must be in a state of separation. “Separate maintenance” refers to a Georgia lawsuit that addresses issues in a divorce case aside from the actual granting of a divorce. Separate maintenance is sometimes granted for reasons like moral or religious opposition [to divorce], or even for the client’s legal benefit like social security or insurance.
Will a judge or jury decide my case?
In a situation where both parties cannot resolve their issues, a judge will resolve financial issues like alimony, child support, property division, and debt division. The final decision is written into a court order that is binding.
Domestic and Family Violence: Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors by either one or both partners in an intimate relationship, such as through marriage, dating, cohabitation, friends, or family. Depending on the severity and duration of the violence, it may or may not be constituted as a crime. For those who are wrongfully accused, your defense attorney can fight false allegations. For those in dangerous situations, as a victim of the violence, your attorney can help you get a temporary restraining order issued by the courts. Custody and child support, possession of the family home, and alimony can be decided upon by the court system.
Father’s / Grandparent Rights : Fathers are becoming more recognized and accepted in the court system as equal partners for parenting and support of children. A father often needs support, and has the right to visitation and custody.
Grandparent’s rights to custody and availability to children are increasing in familiarity in the Georgia court system. An attorney will work to hear the grandparent’s story and fight for their rights.
Mediation: Mediation can help keep a family unit from further deterioration. It can also save thousands of dollars in legal fees. Obstacles to mediation include a lack of preparation by one or both sides; unrealistic expectations; and lack of commitment by a party; inability to make a decision; positional bargaining; and a mentally ill participant. It is very important to have all your records and information at hand so intelligent decisions can be made. Figuring out your own personal goals is also crucial. It is difficult coming to an agreement when the clients’ expectations are out of proportion. It’s important to remember that there are costs to not settling. Both parties need to compromise long enough to settle. Both also need to take the process seriously.
Approaching the situation as if it is a business deal allows for a quicker decision-making process. Not every decision will be a joyful one for each participant. It is necessary for each party to determine a middle ground for a target. Some people want a percentage of the property, regardless of what their needs are. For example, many husbands will insist on a 50-50 split and some wives will choose a starting point of 65% or 70% of the assets. It is ideal for the parties to negotiate so the results are beneficial to both. In regards to a mentally ill client, the person may need medications and extra support so the settlement can be reached.
Modification of Child Support: Modification of Child Support can be filed if a previous Modification of Child Support action was brought out by the same party within two years.
Paternity and Legitimation: Paternity awareness determines that the natural father of the child must pay support. Legitimation establishes the father’s RIGHT to custody and time to parent. A lawyer helps through each of these processes.
Pre-Nuptial and Post Nuptial Agreement: Upon divorcing a spouse, normally the property you acquired during the marriage will be equally divided. An attorney can assist in the division of marital property and inform you of your legal rights.
Property Division: Upon divorcing a spouse, normally the property you acquired during the marriage will be equally divided. An attorney can assist in the division of marital property and inform you of your legal rights.
Restraining and Protective Order: Victims of violence have the right to file for a restraining order against their abuser. Restraining orders are legal injunctions issued due to harassment, stalking, domestic violence, sexual assault, etc. The abuser is not allowed to contact the victim at their home, work, school, etc., including contact by phone, mail, fax, email, or gifts.
Uncontested Divorce: A broken marriage is proven when one of the parties can prove that the marriage is over, through sworn testimony, even when there are no evident “fault” grounds.