Going through a divorce is a painful experience fraught with difficult emotions that can make it difficult to think clearly. Nonetheless, it is crucial to protect your interests and your family. With the help of a compassionate, assertive divorce lawyer, you can better navigate the divorce process and plan for the next chapter in your life.
E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm, LLC is a premier family law practice serving clients in Dekalb, Metro Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. Attorney Banks-Ware is highly experienced at handling highly contested divorces, divorce mediation, and collaborative divorce. Whether your divorce is resolved through litigation or mediation, you will receive the advice and support you need, and the personal attention you deserve.
Divorce in Dekalb County, Georgia
Although there are a number of fault-based grounds for divorce in Georgia — cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, imprisonment, and adultery — a no-fault divorce is typically granted when there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Before a court will grant a no-fault divorce, however, the spouses must reach an agreement on key issues such as the division of property, child custody, visitation (parenting time) and child support.
Division of Property
In a divorce, marital property, such as the family home, bank accounts, stocks, retirement accounts, businesses, and debts must be divided according to Georgia’s rules of equitable distribution. This does not mean the marital property will be divided evenly, but in a way that is fair and reasonable. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement or do not have a prenuptial agreement in place, the court will intervene to make a determination on the division of marital property.
Commonly referred to as alimony, spousal support is typically granted to a spouse who has been in a long-term marriage (over 10 years). Generally, spousal support is based on the needs of one spouse and the other’s ability to pay and there are two types of support:
- Temporary Spousal Support — May be awarded while a divorce case is pending, or for a short period of time after the divorce is finalized
- Permanent Spousal Support — Granted for an indefinite period of time, until the receiving spouse is able to earn sufficient income, remarried, or modified by the court
If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the court will make a determination based on factors such as each spouse’s income, the length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, the present and future earning capacity of each party, and a spouse’s need for further education or training to earn a living.
In any event, there is no guarantee that spousal support may be granted. First, the term permanent support is somewhat misleading since it is common for the court to grant support payments for a specific number of years. Moreover, in a fault-based divorce, based for instance on proven adultery, the unfaithful spouse may be barred from receiving support.
Unfortunately, conflicts over child custody are common in many divorce proceedings. Before a divorce is granted, however, the spouses must agree to a parenting plan that must also be approved by the court. Generally, there are two types of custody:
- Legal custody — Each parent has the right to make legal decisions concerning important issues for their children such as education, medical care, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities
- Physical custody — Physical custody determines which parent the child will live with and the visitation rights of the other parent
Today, child support determinations in Georgia are based on an income shares model. This means that the combined income of both parents is considered, as well as the number of children involved. The court relies heavily on a child support obligation table that considers income from all sources, including salary, bonuses, commissions, income from self-employment, rental income, severance pay, income from annuities, capital gains, unemployment compensation, and social security income. Other factors included in this determination include the cost of child care, the payment of medical, dental and vision insurance premiums, medical expenses, educational expenses and the cost of extracurricular activities.
Mediation is designed to be a more civil and less expensive way to end a marriage. The spouses work with a neutral third party, known as a mediator, who guides the spouses to an equitable agreement. For the process to be successful, however, the spouses must cooperate and negotiate in good faith. Although attorneys do not participate directly in divorce mediation, we can provide you with valuable advice and guidance as you work through the process.
As many can attest, going through a contested divorce is an emotionally charged experience. One way to avoid a protracted legal battle is to consider a more reasonable approach known as collaborative law divorce. Basically, both spouses and their attorneys, agree in writing to reach a negotiated settlement rather than litigate the divorce. Collaborative law is an interdisciplinary process that involves working with facilitators, including mental health professionals and financial experts to resolve the key issues in a divorce, such as spousal support, child custody, visitation and child support.
Contact Our Lithonia Divorce Attorney
By providing clients with a supportive atmosphere, we work to help clients achieve positive outcomes in divorce proceedings. Equally adept at managing highly contested divorces or negotiating settlements, our primary concern is protecting your interests and the well-being of your children. When a settlement cannot be reached, we are fully prepared to represent our clients in court. In any case, the emotional strain and confusion that a divorce can bring require the practical advice and objective insights attorney Banks-Ware is known for providing. If you are considering a divorce, don’t go it alone. You can chart a new course by contacting our office today.