Family Law

Family Law - M. Byron Morgan - Jonesboro, Georgia

Divorce is never a pleasant experience, but there is no need to go through it alone. Important life decisions such as ending a marriage require time, patience and skilled legal assistance.

Under Georgia law, one or both of spouses must have lived in the state for at least six months prior to filing. In addition, you must choose one of 13 grounds under which you may file for a divorce, ranging from adultery, where one party has been unfaithful, to desertion, in which one spouse has not been residing with or providing any financial support to the other spouse for more than a year. In most cases, we may recommend filing for a ‘no-fault divorce’, meaning simply that one spouse states the marriage is irretrievably broken. While an uncontested divorce can take as little as 30 to 60 days, in the case of a contested divorce it can take considerably longer.

In some instances a divorce is acrimonious and contested from day 1, and in other instances spouses may begin the divorce process on the same page with regards to sensitive issues only to find they ultimately disagree. In either case, when an agreement on personal details can’t be reached, a court will usually suggest mediation to reach a settlement and avoid a more costly and emotional trial. Should that process not work, the divorce would proceed to trial. It’s key that you have experienced litigation attorneys familiar with the trial process that will work hard to present the court with facts and information that will benefit you.

Child Custody

Child custody refers to the legal guardianship involved in a divorce case. In Georgia, there are two forms of custody; legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the child’s life decisions. Religious, medical, and educational decisions are made by the legal custodian(s). Legal custody can be granted to one parent, or decisions split between both parents.

Physical custody refers to where the child resides. One parent may have sole physical custody, with the other receiving scheduled visitation rights. Or, both parents may share physical custody, which means the child lives with each parent a portion of the time.

Child Support

The process of establishing child support payments often causes anxiety for parents going through the divorce process or paternity suits. Most parents want to pay reasonable child support if they do not have primary custody of their children, but often worry about the impact of excessive and financially crippling payments. Others who anticipate being awarded primary custody worry they will not be able to support the child at the appropriate level.

In 2007, Georgia’s child support guidelines changed significantly. Where previously only the income of the parent paying support was ostensibly considered, the new law takes into account the combined income of both parents, along with the number of children to be supported, in determining the child support obligation.

A child support obligation “table” is now used to determine how much child support will be paid or received. With a more rigid structure, it is very important that courts have accurate information regarding each spouses income and earning potential when calculating that spouses ability to pay child support payments.

Please note that if you are currently paying or receiving child support, you may be entitled to a modification of your support order based on a financial change in circumstances where, under the new guidelines, the amount you could be paying is substantially different.

If you have any questions, or if you would like to speak with an experienced attorney to advise you with your concerns, please feel free to call our office at (770) 472-7334 or contact us online.