Frequently Asked Questions
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- How long does it take to get a divorce?
Uncontested, divorces can be resolved generally in about 45 days. However, many cases are not truly uncontested, and can take several months to a year or more, depending on their complexity.
How long must a couple be separated before they can proceed with a divorce?
There is no requirement other than the parties must be separated at the time the divorce case is filed, and they still can be living in the same house.
- How is property divided in a divorce case?
Each spouse is entitled to retain his or her “separate estate,” meaning property they brought into the marriage, property they inherited, or property given to that spouse as a gift from a third party. Marital property is divided “equitably” between the parties. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal, but means what the court determines as fair, if the case goes to trial.
- Do the courts still award alimony? How is alimony determined?
- Alimony can be awarded in appropriate cases. There are many factors that come into play in determining whether to award alimony and if so, how much to award. These factors include:
- The parties’ standard of living
- The duration of the marriage
- The financial resources and condition of each party
- The age and the physical and emotional condition of the parties
- The time a party might need to acquire sufficient education or training to find a job
- The contribution of each party to the marriage, such as homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party
- Any other relevant factor
- Are there jury trials in divorce cases?
- Either side can request a jury to decide all the issues except child custody and attorney’s fees. However, due to the time, trouble, and expense of a jury trial, it is seldom used.
- Who watches out for the children in contested custody cases?
- In a contested case, parents cannot always see the stress that is thrust upon the children. Sometimes the parties can agree on a course of counseling for the children while the case is pending, and the parties sometimes choose to get counseling for themselves as well. Courts often utilize a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to assist the judge in the case.
- A GAL is usually an attorney who represents the interest of the children, and makes recommendations to the court. Of course, this becomes an additional expense to the parties. A court may also appoint a psychologist to evaluate the parents and make a recommendation to the court. These evaluations are very costly as well. A contested custody case should be a last resort, not only because of the very high expense involved but also because of the stress on the children and parents.
- I have heard that parents have to attend a seminar in divorce, paternity, and legitimation cases. What is that about?
- Parents are required to attend a seminar about the effect that ending their relationship has on the children. The seminar is usually one Saturday or two week nights, and costs under $50. Parents are not required to attend together.
- How is child support calculated?
- Georgia’s laws recently changed from a relatively simple formula to a more complex method using a specific Excel calculator. Both parents’ income is entered into the calculator, along with the cost of the children’s medical insurance and other specific expenses, as well as extraordinary expenses. Certain deviations from the basic child support calculations can also be considered. Click to see the child support worksheet and basic tables (for a rough idea only).
- We are not married. We have a child and are breaking up. What are the steps in establishing custody, visitation, and child support?
- A male would typically file a legitimation action, to seek a declaration that a child is his legitimate child, can inherit from him, and so forth. A female typically files a paternity action. In both types of cases, the issues of custody, visitation and child support can be decided.
- Can I make the opposing party pay for my attorney’s fees?
- Parties usually have to pay retainers to their attorneys in advance, and they are responsible for their own attorney fees during the case. Various statutes allow parties to ask the court to award attorney’s fees either at a temporary hearing or at a final hearing. Usually, a court would only award attorney’s fees in order to give a party the ability to litigate the case. In general, parties should not rely on getting fees awarded, unless their attorney advises them of that likelihood.
- Can I handle my own case without an attorney?
- While the law of course allows people to represent themselves, doing so in anything other than the most basic uncontested case is not advisable for non-lawyers. Family law cases usually involve intricacies that require an attorney to properly handle your case. Homemade apple pies are great, but not homemade divorces.
- My ex owes me a lot of money for child support. What can I do to collect this money?
- There are several remedies available:
- You can ask the office of Child Support Enforcement to pursue collection for you. This is free or minimal cost to you, but the process is usually slow. This government agency has the ability to suspend drivers’ licenses and professional licenses to try to compel payment, and it can seize tax refunds.
- You can file an abandonment warrant under the right circumstances, which is a criminal process. This usually is reserved for situations where there is an arrearage or nonpayment for more than 30 days, or serious non-compliance.
- You can file a contempt of court case, where you ask the judge to force compliance, and reimburse you for attorney’s fees. Flagrant non-compliance may result in incarceration.
- You can seek to garnish wages for someone who is regularly employed. You can also garnish bank accounts if you or your attorney can locate accounts with funds.
- My ex interferes with my court-ordered visitation. What can I do?
- Typically, this is when you would need to file a contempt of court case, and possibly a modification case to change the visitation provisions of the original court order. In egregious cases, it may be necessary to file for a change of custody.
Our firm can answer all your family law questions
Contact The Law Offices of Daryl L. Kidd, P.C. in Marietta at (470) 243-1373 or email our office through this website with your family law or divorce concern.