The divorce and alimony proceedings in Georgia are designed to be equitable; and to afford full and complete relief to the parties under the facts and circumstances of each particular case. Stephanie G. Legal makes sure that the process is, indeed, fair and equitable. We understand the delicate nature of your divorce, and still maintain the determination to achieve the results you want. Divorces do not have to be adversarial in nature. We make our best effort to keep the process as amicable and transparent with the opposing party, whether we are negotiating an agreement or participating mediation. But we will not hesitate to exercise our strategic and superior litigation skills if you are confronted with a highly contentious and unfair process.
By petitioning the court for a divorce, the plaintiff spouse, by way of complaint, seeks complete dissolution of the marital contract. To contest the complaint, the defendant spouse must file an answer (and for best practices, a counterclaim) within thirty days of being properly served with the complaint. The answer and/or counterclaim is the defendant's opportunity to refute and deny any "fault" claims the plaintiff asserted. Our goal is to reach a fair and equitable agreement that the court will adopt. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, we will gladly prepare for a trial.
Common grounds for Divorce
- Marriage is Irretrievably Broken
- Desertion (willful and continued) for at least one year
- Habitual Intoxication / Drug Addiction
- Cruel Treatment
Let's start with the concept of Equitable Restraint. Once a divorce action is initiated, the petition should trigger the prohibition of the transfer of property by a spouse. The property subject to this restraint should be outlined in the petition. To be safe, do not transfer any property; doing so could cause implications on the opposing spouse's child support or alimony claim.
Next is the theory of Equitable Partition (the fair division of property). Equitable Partition is ordered by the judge when the recovery of property wholly or partially owned by the opposing spouse is called into question.
Parents must keep in mind that child support orders can be modified at any time. Special circumstances (i.e., Child care, Health care and health insurance; Special educational) or income changes are just two reasons to revisit child support payments. The parents can agree in writing to the changed amount or can file a motion with the court. After the divorce is finalized, the parties should consult an attorney to change the amount.
When parents divorce, the divorce decree will specify with whom the divorcing couple's children will live. Many, parents work out these arrangements between themselves; however, when they are unable to reach a decision, the court may intervene and make a decision based on the child's best interests. In most situations, physical custody is awarded to one parent with whom the child(ren) will live most of the time and "legal custody" of the child(ren) with the non-custodial parent. "Legal custody" includes the right to make decisions about the child(ren)'s education, religion, health care, and other important concerns. Some parents have chosen a joint-custody arrangement in which the child spends an approximately equal amount of time with both parents. Joint custody requires a high degree of cooperation between the parents; therefore, courts are reluctant to order joint custody unless both parents are in agreement and can demonstrate the ability to make joint decisions and cooperate for the child(ren)'s sake. Another option is split custody, in which one parent has custody of one or more of the parties' children, and the other parent has custody of the other(s). Courts usually prefer not to separate siblings. When the child(ren)'s parents are unmarried, the statutes of most states require that the mother be awarded sole physical custody unless the father takes action to be awarded custody or the legitimation of their child(ren). Legitimation is the process that fathers use to establish parental rights to their children who were born out of wedlock. Without legitimation, such fathers have no right to custody or visitation of those children (although the laws say they have the obligation to support them financially). Without legitimation, mothers have sole custody of children born out of wedlock.
In order for a reasonable visitation schedule to work, both parents must be willing to communicate with each other in a sane and realistic manner. If you and your ex-spouse are currently under a reasonable visitation plan that is not working, you may go back to the court and ask for a different arrangement in terms of parental visitation rights. If a court thinks that the non-custodial parent is likely to harm or abuse the child during his or her visitation time, the court will order that all visitation be supervised. This means that any time the non-custodial parent spends with the child, he/she must be in the presence of another adult (other than the custodial parent) that will prevent any abuse of the child. In addition, when a non-custodial parent fails to exercise parenting time, the goal should be to bring that parent back into the child(ren)’s life to ensure that both parents are as involved as possible with the life of their child(ren). Hopefully, this will circumvent the child(ren) the emotional stress of feeling unloved or unwanted because of divorce.
The word alimony comes from the Latin verb "to nourish." When alimony is awarded, an allowance of one spouse's estate is used for the support of the the other party so long as they are living in separate households. Alimony, when authorized, can be awarded to either spouse in accordance with the needs of the spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay. O.C.G.A. § 19-6-1(c). Remember that an alimony award is not required; and, the court will absolutely consider the parties' behavior towards each other. Motivation to remain congenial, right?