Do you find it difficult to decide whether to stay married for your kids or file for divorce and face a long and troublesome custody trial? A discussion with a Georgia family law attorney may help. While you should not let anyone tell you what to do about your marital problems, finding out what consequences of each option will definitely help.
You already know what staying married means, and you are the only one who gets to decide if it is worth it. You probably feel it is time to get a divorce and start over, but you worry about how it would affect your children and your custody rights.
Leaving the psychological impact your decision may have aside, you surely want to know where you stand from the legal point of view. The easiest way to find that out would be to consult a Georgia family law attorney. Until you decide to do that, it may help to take a closer look at what divorce, child custody, and alimony proceedings involve according to Georgia laws.
You will find all the laws referring to divorce and child custody grouped under Georgia Code Title 19 (Domestic Relations). It has 15 Chapters, each with its own sections. The ones you surely want to read refer to Divorce, Child Custody, and Alimony and Child Support, but, depending on your situation, all chapters may contain some useful information. Here is a brief guide to what the three most important chapters cover and what you should keep in mind before filing for divorce:
1. Georgia Divorce Laws Basics
According to Georgia Code Title 19 Chapter 5, depending on your grounds for filing for divorce (no-fault, impotency, adultery, habitual intoxication, cruel treatment, etc.) the court may grant a total divorce or recommend a dispute resolution program. In order to avoid unnecessary conflicts with your spouse, consider filing for “no-fault divorce.” It will save you from the trouble of proving your divorce grounds and simplify the process.
The divorce decree will cover not only the end of your marriage, but also who gets child custody, who pays child support and alimony, in what amount, and whether the wife returns to her maiden name. Decide what you want and try to negotiate a settlement with your spouse.
If you cannot reach one, you will most likely have to fight over the details in court, and it will most likely cost you time and money. Keep in mind that Georgia courts rarely grant divorces without a waiting period of 30 days, to give couples a chance to reconcile. Any other delays will only add up to the 30-day period.
During the divorce, you will not be able to sell any marital property. If you rely on selling assets to cover your expenses or pay your attorney fees, try agreeing on their sale before the divorce with your spouse, or find the money you need elsewhere. Consider reaching an agreement regarding the division of all assets, to avoid unnecessary extension of the divorce process.
2. Brief Guide to Georgia Child Custody Laws
According to Georgia Code Title 19 Chapter 9, parents requesting custody can agree to binding arbitration and settle matters related to child custody, visitation rights, and parenting time under the mediation of an arbiter, outside of court. The arbiter’s decision will grant child custody and settle the other issues unless the judge decides the decision is not in the best interest of the child.
When requesting child custody, both you and your spouse will have to come up with a parenting plan. It’s great if you can work one out together, but if not, you can each present your own. You won’t need a parenting plan if you seek immediate relied on grounds of violence.
As a general rule, if you want custody of your children, you need to show the court that remaining with you is in the children’s best interest. If you can and your situation allows it, you should try reaching an agreement with your spouse for shared custody. If you want full custody, think of ways to:
- Prove your spouse’s abuse or unfitness for shared or sole custody
- Prove your ability to pay for the children’s education and upbringing
- Prove your morals and fitness to raise the children
- Come up with solutions that will minimize the impact on the children (staying in the family home, going to the same school, etc.)
- Show your interest to maintain a good relationship with your spouse and let them be a part of the children’s life (unless your situation involves child abuse).
3. Brief Guide to Georgia Alimony and Child Support Laws
According to Georgia Code Title 19 Chapter 6, depending on your grounds for divorce and your financial situation, you may be entitled to temporary or permanent alimony. The alimony amount will most likely be sufficient to cover the support of the children but will eliminate your spouse’s liability to third parties for necessaries furnished to your children. Here is what the court takes into account when establishing the alimony amount:
- Living standard during your marriage
- Marriage duration
- The spouses’ age and physical and mental condition
- The time it takes to complete a training program and find employment
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage
- Each spouse’s financial situation and earning capacity.
No matter the amount or duration, alimony payments cease automatically upon the beneficiary’s remarriage.
Get Advice on Divorce, Child Custody, and Alimony from an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Unfortunately, Georgia laws are quite intricate, and finding your way through them when dealing with the stress of a divorce and worrying about your children is not easy. Even if you learn them by heart, you could still use the advice of an experienced family law attorney to apply them to your particular situation and use their stipulations in your favor.
At the Law Firm of Caryn S. Fennell, you will receive the advice you need from a compassionate, experienced, and dedicated Georgia family law attorney who understands what you are going through and will do everything in their power to help you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We are here to help you do what’s best for you and your children.