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Frequently Asked Questions

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Divorce

The cost of a divorce varies case by case. If the divorce is uncontested, which means the parties agree to everything then it can be relatively inexpensive. However, if the divorce is contested there are several factors can drive the costs up quickly such as custody issues which require a Guardian Ad Litem, or substantial assets that require a forensic accountant to be involved.

You or your spouse must be a Georgia resident for at least 6 months before filing for divorce. You file in the County of your residence, or if you reside out of State, then you file in the County of your spouse’s residence.

A divorce can be granted thirty-one (31) days after service of the Complaint for Divorce. This only applies to uncontested cases. Generally, a divorce can take anywhere from several months to over two years depending on the complexity of the issues.

An attorney can only legally represent one party in a divorce. However, if your case is uncontested, the attorney can prepare the documents and present them to the other party, but cannot give them legal advice.

Alimony in Georgia is based on the financial need of either party, and the ability of each party to earn income. Sometimes alimony is awarded on a temporary basis to assist the financially dependent spouse during the litigation. Permanent alimony is incorporated into a Settlement Agreement or Final Decree of Divorce. Alimony can be paid as a lump sum, or periodically, most commonly on a monthly basis. The amount of alimony depends on a variety of factors including the length of marriage, other financial resources of the parties and their physical/emotional condition.

Child Custody

In Georgia there is no presumption for the Mother or the Father to have custody. Custody is determined based on the best interests of the child.

Legal custody means who determines major issues for the child such as education, religion, non-emergency healthcare and extracurricular activities. One parent can have sole legal custody, but generally legal custody is joint, and one parent has final decision-making authority if the parties cannot agree. Physical custody is where the child lives.

Yes, legal custody and physical custody can be joint. However, it is more common for one parent to be the primary physical custodian and the other parent to have visitation with the child.

In Georgia, when a child reaches the age of fourteen (14) they may choose which parent they want to live with. The child’s decision shall be presumptive unless it is determined by the Court that it is not in the child’s best interest for the chosen parent to have custody.

Not necessarily. A Guardian Ad Litem is not appointed in every case. The parties may agree how to handle custody and visitation on their own. The Judge may not need the assistance of a Guardian Ad Litem to make a custody ruling depending on the circumstances of the case. A GAL will only be appointed when the Court believes further investigation is required to determine the best interests of the child.

Child Support

In Georgia, child support is determined using a child support calculator. The gross income of both parents is the primary factor to determine the child support amount. Some of the other items included in the calculation are daycare costs, health insurance expenses, parenting time, and support paid for other children.

Even if both parents have the same income, one parent will most likely pay child support to the other parent depending on other factors that go into the calculation.

Even if parents share custody equally, one parent will probably pay child support to the other, but the amount may be less than the presumptive amount due to the parenting time.

Yes. An Income Deduction Order requires a parent’s employer to deduct the amount of child support owed from the employee’s paycheck and send it to the Family Support Registry who will disburse it to the parent receiving child support.

No. Generally, child support ends when the child turns eighteen (18) unless the child is in high school full time, then child support continues until the child graduates high school but not beyond the age of twenty (20).

Court Order Modification

Generally, you can file to modify child support every two (2) years. However, if you lose your job you may file immediately to modify your child support obligation.

Yes, but first you will need to register the foreign Order in a Superior Court in Georgia.

Not without filing for a modification first and having the support obligation legally terminated. You are still required to pay child support until there is a new Court Order.

Yes. The only way a Court can enforce the new agreement is to file a modification and receive a new Order memorializing the terms.

No, unless your divorce decree requires you to provide proof of income. However, your ex may file for a modification of child support every two (2) years and you will be required to present your current income.

Family Law

No, if you need a Will or an estate planning you should seek the assistance of a estate planning attorney. You may contact the Wise Law Firm and we can give you a referral for a estate planning attorney.

Yes, family law attorneys handle adoptions. Depending on the circumstances, some adoptions may be more complicated and need to be handled by a family law attorney who specializes in adoptions.

No, family law includes other areas including custody, visitation, child support, and modifications of prior Court Orders.

Yes, family law encompasses prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.

Yes, mediation is usually recommended in family law cases. Some Judges require the parties to participate in mediation prior to having a hearing. It is always better when the parties can resolve their issues themselves at mediation. Additionally, mediation is less costly than going to Court.

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