What will I get in the divorce is probably the most common question I receive from potential clients. The answer is it depends.
It depends on the facts and issues in your particular situation. No two cases are exactly alike.
Generally, Georgia is an equitable division state. That means the Court will not necessarily divide the assets and debts in a divorce equally. The Court will divide them fairly. It may be fair to allocate more of the assets to the custodial parent. It may be fair to allocate more of the debts to the party who makes more of the income. Or it may be fair to give the debt associated with an item to the party who is receiving the item. It all depends on the facts and issues in your case.
Child custody is determined by the best interest of the child standard. The Court can consider any and all evidence in making that determination. Depending on the child’s age, the child can also let the Court know the child’s custodial preferences. If there is a Guardian ad Litem involved in the case, the Court will consider the reports made from that guardian. The Court will consider both of the parent’s work schedules, homes, parenting styles, etc. But it all depends on the facts and issues in your case.
Child support is set by law using the Georgia Child Support Worksheets. The numbers needed for the worksheet include incomes, other child support paid, insurance paid, private school, extraordinary medical expenses, extraordinary extracurricular expenses, etc. The worksheets will calculate the presumptive child support amount. That is the amount the court presumes is correct. However, even after a presumptive child support amount is determined, there are reasons to deviate from that number. These reasons could include extra parenting time, dental or vision insurance, mortgage payments to the custodial parent, etc. So, it all depends on the facts and issues in your case.
There is no specific formula for alimony and/or attorney’s fees in Georgia divorces. Although the Court can award these, they are completely up to the discretion of the Court. Things the Court will consider are the length of the marriage, the incomes and earning capacities of the parties, the educational levels of the parties, marital misconduct, etc. But again, it all depends on the facts and issues in your case.
Although, some lay people will tell others that they know for sure what will happen in a divorce, don’t believe them. As an attorney, I would tell you that you could sit in the courtroom of your assigned judge and watch a domestic trial day and see different results on cases that sounded the same to you. The reason for this is that the judge is the fact finder. The judge determines which witness is more credible and how to weigh the evidence. Just because the two cases sounded the same to you, the judge thought they sounded different. So even an attorney cannot tell you with 100% certainty what will happen in your divorce.
However, an experienced attorney can tell you what a particular judge generally does. The attorney can tell you the risks and benefits of certain strategies in front of your assigned judge. And the attorney can set realistic expectations for you. So if you would like to discuss the specific facts and issues in your divorce case, please contact us for a free consultation.
What does legitimation mean under Georgia law? It is the legal process that establishes legal rights of a father to a child when the father was not married to the mother. It also establishes the legal rights of the child to the father’s estate.
In Georgia if the father and mother of a child are not married, the father does not have any legal rights to the child. It does not matter whether he is listed as the father on the birth certificate. If the parents were not married, the father will need to get an order from a court to establish his rights to the child.
Only a father (not the mother) can file the legitimation action.
The general public policy in Georgia is that it is better for a child to be legitimate than illegitimate. So generally, if the father is the biological father of the child, the Court will usually grant the legitimation.
However, there are circumstances where the biological father can lose his “opportunity interest” to the child. The factors involved in this determination include the father's action or inaction during the pregnancy and birth; whether there has been a delay in filing a legitimation; and the amount and quality of the contact with the child.
If the mother disputes that the father is the biological father a DNA test might be needed. There are specific requirements for the test so that it can be presented in court. That means the tests at the drug store will not work for court.
Within a legitimation action, the father can ask to have the child’s name changed to reflect his last name if the child has a different last name. If the child has not yet started school, the court usually grants this request. It becomes more of an issue when the child has always been known by another name and learns to write that name.
If the father is not listed on the child’s birth certificate, he can ask that he be added. This is generally granted by the Court if the child is legitimated. The father will need to do the work involved in getting the birth certificate changed after receiving the court order. The Court only issues the order, not the new birth certificate.
The Court can also consider custody, visitation, child support and attorney’s fees in a legitimation action. The considerations for these issues are similar to those of a divorce. The court considers the best interest of the child, all of the evidence presented, and the child support guidelines when making decisions on these issues.
If the father and the mother can agree on all issues, the matter can be handled faster and less expensively.
To discuss the particular circumstances in your case, please call us for a free consultation.
Nedra K. Howard
Nedra has represented clients in matters relating to divorce, separate maintenance, child custody and support, family violence protective orders, adoption, prenuptial agreements, business disputes and litigation, personal injury, property damage, and wills.
John B. MIller & Associates, P.C.
16 Eastbrook Bend, Suite 201
Peachtree City, GA 30269
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770 - 863 - 8355