Divorce changes your life. It’s a major life transition requiring you and your spouse to negotiate and agree on financially significant matters such as:
- Child custody and support
- Division of marital property
- Spousal support
Having our experienced legal team on your side will help you protect your rights as a loving parent and leave the marriage with the financial stability you need to move forward with your life. You can rely on the Gentry Law Firm LLC to provide you with sound legal counsel and be a strong advocate for you from the moment you retain our law office.
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce
If you and your spouse are able to agree on critical divorce issues like child custody and support, property division, and alimony, you can put together a settlement agreement and present it to the court for approval. This simplified process is referred to as an uncontested divorce.
However, if you are unable to reach an agreement, the divorce becomes contested, and the court will have to make the final decisions. You need to retain the legal services of a Georgia divorce attorney who will protect your interests during every step of the process.
Georgia is an equitable distribution state, which means that if you and your spouse can’t reach your own agreement on how to divide marital property, the court will attempt to distribute it as fairly as possible. Sometimes
, this means a 50-50 split, but Georgia family court judges will review a variety of factors, including each spouse’s financial situation and their economic and non-economic contributions to the marriage, to reach a fair decision.
Property that you and your spouse each owned independently before getting married will, in most cases, remain with you after the divorce. You will also generally be able to keep any property received as a gift, inheritance, devise, or bequest while married. However, if spousal funds were used to enhance the value of the separate property (for example, you used marital money to upgrade the vacation home your father willed to you), any appreciation in that property’s value can be divided in a divorce.
If you and your spouse own a business or a professional practice, things can be more complicated, as you may have to divide stock options and consider the other spouse’s contributions to the practice. At Gentry Law Firm LLC, we have years of experience in helping business owners, licensed professionals, and other high-income clients protect their right to their hard-earned wealth as they navigate through their divorce.
Child Custody and Child Support
You and your spouse are free to work out a custody arrangement that works for both of you. If you are unable to agree, the court will award physical and legal custody based on what it determines to be the best interests of the child. If you have children aged 14 or older, they can express a preference about which parent they choose to live with, but the court may overrule that election if the child’s choice is not in their own best interests.
In Georgia, both parents are equal when it comes to custody determinations unless there is a valid reason to believe otherwise, such as a history of neglect or abuse. The goal is to create a parenting plan that lets the child maintain a close and stable relationship with both parents. Our team will help you put together a sustainable arrangement that maximizes your time with your children.
Child support payments are typically calculated based on a standard formula. When determining how much support each parent is responsible for, the court will review factors such as each parent’s gross income, whether either parent is currently supporting children from another relationship, and which parent is covering health insurance. Support payments must be made until the child turns 18, gets married, or becomes emancipated. If the child is still in school at the time of their 18th birthday, payments may continue until they turn 20.
Known as spousal maintenance in Georgia, spousal maintenance is available in limited situations. It may be rehabilitative or, in rare cases, permanent. Rehabilitative alimony means that the support is a short-term measure until the recipient becomes financially self-sufficient. Permanent support is usually awarded if one partner is unable to work due to age or mental/physical illness.
When determining whether you are eligible for spousal support, the court considers factors like the duration of the marriage, the standard of living you both enjoyed, and your respective financial circumstances. The Gentry Law Firm has strong advocacy skills in family law cases that can help you petition for the support you need to keep you financially stable after divorce.
Who can file for divorce in Georgia?
You can file for divorce in this state if:
- You or your spouse have lived in Georgia for at least six months before seeking the divorce OR;
- Georgia was legally the last place of residence for you as a couple within the last six months
If you are unsure about whether you can initiate a divorce action in this state, give us a call at (770) 425-5573 and our experienced team will confirm your eligibility.
What are the grounds for divorce in Georgia?
Although many states allow no-fault divorce, Georgia is not one of them. To file for divorce in this state, you or your spouse must claim one of the 13 following grounds:
- Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage One spouse must show that they refuse to live with their husband or wife, that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and that there is no chance of reconciliation.);
- Intermarriage between close relatives;
- Mental incapacity at the time that the marriage took place;
- Impotence at the time the marriage occurred;
- The marriage was forced, took place under duress, or resulted from fraud;
- The wife was carrying another man’s child at the time of the marriage and the husband was unaware of it;
- One of the spouses committed adultery during the marriage;
- One spouse deserts the other;
- Conviction for a crime of moral turpitude that incurs a prison sentence of at least two years (In Georgia, such crimes include fraud, larceny, selling drugs, voluntary manslaughter, and murder.);
- Cruel treatment;
- Habitual drug addiction;
- Habitual intoxication; or
- Incurable mental illness.
Some of these grounds can affect property division and spousal support awards. For example, if your spouse physically or mentally mistreated you, you have the potential to receive a larger share of the marital estate. If they committed adultery, they may not be entitled to spousal support from you. Our knowledgeable attorneys will protect your rights in this area.
It is important to note that if you don’t file for divorce from your spouse after the misconduct (e.g., you learn that your wife was having an affair) and continue to live with them, the court may take the perspective that you condoned or forgave the actions and you cannot use them as grounds for seeking a divorce or denying spousal support.
Contact an experienced Georgia family law professional
At the Gentry Law Firm LLC, our family law attorneys have the insight and experience needed to achieve favorable outcomes for our clients throughout Cobb, Cherokee, Paulding, Bartow, and Fulton counties. Our reputation for helping clients get what they need to move forward after divorce has made us one of the most respected divorce and family law firms in the northwest Atlanta area.
We firmly believe that you and your family have a brighter future ahead of you and will fight to help you achieve it. To schedule an initial consultation about any family law issues you are facing, please call 1-866-360-9263 or contact our Marietta office online.