Divorce And Family Law Q&A
Do you have questions about family law and divorce? We have answers. Read below for our responses to common questions that we hear at Coleman, Chambers & Rogers, LLP. We are happy to answer your questions directly during a consultation in our Gainesville office. Speak to an attorney by calling 678-601-2495, or fill out our easy online contact form.
How is property divided?
Most property acquired during marriage is subject to equitable division, which is not the same as equal division. There are many factors that come into play when the court decides how to divide property. Typically, property acquired before marriage, by gift or inheritance, is not subject to division.
How is child support determined?
Child support is based on two major factors: the ability of the noncustodial parent to pay, and the needs of the child. The numbers are put together in a formula that calculates monthly payments. Ultimately, the order can be modified due to unusual circumstances or major life changes.
Can I date before my divorce is final?
We recommend that dating be postponed until after the court has entered a decree of divorce. There are several reasons for this advice:
- If your spouse has knowledge that you are dating, unexpected feelings of anger and resentment may arise, which make it extremely difficult to negotiate a reasonable settlement out of court. This could cause your legal fees to increase.
- Dating may also give the appearance of adultery, and supposed adultery will have a profound effect on the outcome of a divorce proceeding. It can affect determinations of custody, visitation, support and other such matters.
Should I be the first to file?
In most cases, it doesn’t usually matter who files first; however, if your attorney feels there is some strategy in being the first to file, he or she will discuss this with you.
Why did opposing party ask for so much in his or her petition? I thought we agreed on some of those things.
Before knowing what the issues will be and what might happen under the law and the facts of the case, no one wants to take the chance of asking for too little. So people tend to ask for more than they really expect.
What are the chances my case can be settled?
This question depends a lot on you and the opposing party, and how eager you are to reach an agreement.
What about mediation?
Mediation is a process where the parties meet with a neutral party to assist them in trying to reach an agreement on some or all of the issues in your specific action.
How long will my case take?
That depends on many things. Factors that can make a difference include the schedules of the parties, lawyers and the court, the cooperation of witnesses, the speed of any experts that may be needed and, ultimately, the complexity of the case, including whether a jury trial has been demanded. From the date of filing to finalization, your time can be as short at 31 days or up to several years if a jury trial is demanded.
Nothing is happening in my case, what can I do?
Talk to your attorney or to a paralegal. You are entitled to know the status of your case. There may be a very good reason for a pause or delay.
I am seeing a professional for help with depression. Could I lose custody of my children?
The mere fact that you have sought help for your problems is not a basis to lose custody or change custody. In fact, the ability to recognize the need for and to get professional help is usually seen as a good sign of maturity and responsible action, both desirable characteristics in a custodial parent.
I am a good father. Are judges prejudiced against fathers?
Both parents are equally entitled to seek custody of children.
Will I have to attend any mandated seminars?
Generally, every court is requiring parties who have minor children to attend some form of a parenting seminar. The cost for this seminar is generally $30 and takes four hours to complete. Your attorney will supply you with a schedule if you are required to attend.
What is the difference between legal and physical custody?
Physical custody refers to where the child lives and who has responsibility with daily care. Legal custody is the decision-making responsibilities associated with education, health care, religion and upbringing of the child.
When parents fight over custody, how does the court decide?
The standard in Georgia is the best interest of the child. The following issues are just some of the factors that the court will take into consideration:
- The love, affection, bonding and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child. Also between the child and his or her siblings
- Each parent’s knowledge and familiarity of the child and the child’s needs
- The capacity and disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, day-to-day needs and other necessary basic care, with consideration made for the potential payment of child support by the other parent
- The home environment of each parent considering the promotion of nurturance and safety of the child rather than superficial or material factors
- The importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
- Any evidence of family violence or sexual, mental, or physical child abuse or criminal history of either parent
What is a parenting plan?
Parenting plans are required in every divorce granted in Georgia. Parenting plans need to be tailored to meet your circumstances taking into consideration both parents’ work schedules and children’s needs.
If my former spouse is behind on child support, can I prevent visitation?
The short answer is no. However, a contempt action can be pursued. A contempt action means the court may force the other party to pay their dues.
Can I change custody arrangements or visitation after the divorce?
You may be able to modify visitation and custody arrangements if there has been a change of circumstances, and it is in the best interest of the children. An experienced family lawyer can guide you through this assessment and help you determine whether or not you have sufficient grounds for modification.
Can I move to another state with our child?
Just because you have decided that it is time to leave the state for personal reasons that include job change, need to care for an ailing parent or other reasons does not mean it is necessarily in the best interest of the child to relocate them to another state. The court ultimately must determine if it is in the best interest of the child to be relocated to another state.
What are custody evaluations?
A custody evaluation is a process in which a mental health professional (usually a psychologist) evaluates both parties and the children. It is the evaluator’s responsibility to determine what is in the best interest of the child and to make specific recommendations to the court regarding issues of visitation, custody and decision-making.
What happens if my ex-spouse files bankruptcy?
This is not an easy question to answer. Generally, alimony and child support are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. For example, if your husband was to make your car payments and fails to pay, the creditor may be discharged.