Our Family Law Practice
We have extensive experience in family law and domestic relations matters, having represented hundreds of clients in a wide variety of situations. We represent clients in all areas of family law including:
- Child Custody
- Paternity/ Legitimation
- Grandparents Rights
- Child Support
- Contempt of Court, and
- Juvenile Court matters
Please scroll down for more information as to each of these areas of family law
We handle all issues pertaining to the custody of minor children, including initial determinations of custody, custody modifications, the establishment and modification of visitation rights, grandparent custody and visitation, and custody issues that arise out of juvenile court proceedings.
The Georgia Legislature recently passed a law that significantly expands the rights of grandparents to obtain visitation with their grandchildren. If you are a grandparent seeking the establishment of rights of visitation, we can help. The circumstances necessary to establish entitlement to such visitation rights are too complicated to fully discuss in this format, so please contact our office if you would like to further explore this issue.
Paternity and Legitimation
We offer a complete range of services to parents of a child or children that have been born out of wedlock.
For mothers of such children, we can initiate a paternity action to establish the father's child support obligation. Typically, we can obtain an order directing the father to pay child support within two to three weeks from the week that you retain us. While there are government agencies that can assist in the establishment of a chuld support obligation, those agencies typically have a very heavy workload. As a result, there is often a delay of several months between the date you begin to seek child support and the date that the father actually becomes obligated under a child support order. If you are in need of child support, sooner rather than later, we can help you to achieve that goal.
The father of an illegitimate child generally has no rights to visitation until he legitimates the child. For fathers of such children, we can guide you through the process of legitimation and help you establish your rights to custody or visitation. It is advisable that you initiate such action sonner, rather than later, as the right to legitimate your child can sometimes be lost forever if you delay in taking advantage of your opportunity to legitimate the child.
How is child support calculated?
Child support is calculated using criteria set forth in Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15). There is a statutory formula that is used in determining a “presumptive child support amount.” Factors that are considered in establishing the “presumptive child support amount” include the gross income of each party, the costs of insurance for the minor children, day care expenses, expenses for extra-curricular activities, and whether either party has support obligations for other children. Once the “presumptive child support amount” is determined, there may be other factors that justify “deviations” from the presumptive amounts. In all cases, the final child support award (including any deviations from the presumptive amount) must be approved by the court.
What information is needed in order to calculate child support?
While other information may occasionally be needed, generally child support can be calculated using the following information:
Each spouse’s gross income (a good source of this information is the spouse’s pay stub, W-2 or the past year’s income tax return)
The costs of insurance on the child or children. (In a situation where one spouse has the insurance through his or her employer, we derive this amount from the difference between the cost of insurance for the spouse and children and the cost for the spouse alone.)
The costs of day care for the child or children
Extraordinary expenses of the children (e.g. private school, sports, dance classes, etc.)
Can your firm help collect child support that is owed to me?
Yes, in many cases we can assist in your recovery of child support through the use of a contempt action. If you are owed child support and know where the obligor can be found, a contempt action can be very effective in forcing him/her to pay the child support that he/she owes. That is because the court has inherent power to hold someone in contempt for failing to abide by its lawful order. In order to enforce compliance with its order, the court can subject the offending party to sanctions, including incarceration. As you might imagine, incarceration (or even the threat of incarceration) is a powerful incentive to induce the payment of his or her child support obligation.
It is becoming more and more common for children to be raised by persons other than their biological parents. In such a case, it is very often to beneficial for the child to be adopted by the person or persons that has assumed the parental role. This provides the child with long term stability, and also gives the child additional protection and legal rights. If you are interested in the adoption of a child, please contact our office for more information.
Contempt of Court
Unfortunately, it is sometimes the case that a party to an action will fail to comply with an order of the court. We most often see this in the context of a failure to pay child support obligations, but sometimes the problem is with visitation or a failure to abide by the property and debt divisions specified in a divorce decree. In such situations, the use of a contempt action can be very effective in compelling the offending party to comply with the court order.
We are very experienced in assisting in the collection of child support, as well as the enforcement of visitation and property division orders. Please contact us if you need assistance is such a matter.
Juvenile Court Matters
We have extensive experience in the representation of clients in all kinds of Juvenile Court matters, from dependency cases to those involving the delinquency of a minor child. We can ensure that the rights of you and your child are protected every step along the way. If you are in the need of such representation, please contact us for more information on the services we can provide.