Divorce

The lawyers at The Law Office of Nathaniel M. Smith, LLC have handled numerous divorce cases, and the firm has more than once been awarded the Client's Choice award by Avvo.com.  

Potential clients seeking to discuss their case with Candace or Nathaniel can prepare by thinking over what is desired in regard to several issues.  First, if minor children are involved, what kind of custody and visitation arrangements are desired?  Second, in regard to property, how should property be divided, and who should keep what property, regardless of whether the property is jointly owned or owned by only one spouse?  Third, regarding debts, what bills and debts need to be paid, and who ought to pay them, and should they be divided, regardless of which spouse's name is on that debt?

Seek legal advice before you assume that property is or is not marital property.  Seek legal advice before you assume that debts are or are not marital debts.

These are the six issues that are addressed in a divorce case with children  (and only the first three where there are no minor children):

1. Division of property.  Who keeps what?  Everything needs to be divided: the home, cars, retirement accounts, bank accounts, and everything else.  Quite often, it does not matter whether the property is in one spouse's name, or in the other's, or both.

2. Division of debts.  Who pays what?  Credit cards, mortgages, and other loans need to be divided and assigned to one spouse or the other, or divided between them.  Quite often, it does not matter whether the debts are in one spouse's name, or in the other's, or in both.

3. Alimony.  If any is paid, how much, and for how long?  Alimony is generally determined based on the income of the spouses, the needs of the spouses, the standard of living enjoyed throughout the marriage, and other factors listed in the Georgia Code.

4. Child custody, when there are children under the age of 18 involved. In Georgia, a child who is 14 years old or older can make an election regarding which parent he or she wants to live with.  Between the ages of 11 and 13, a child can voice his or her preference to the judge if the case goes to trial.  In Georgia, both legal custody and physical custody must be determined.
Legal custody is typically joint, and it involves the authority to weigh in on major life decisions and the authority to be the final decision-maker when a consensus between the parents cannot be reached regarding major life decisions.  Physical custody can also be joint, or physical custody can be primarily with one parent and secondarily with the other (visitation).  

5. Visitation, when there are children under the age of 18 involved.  Holidays can be especially difficult to handle, but with patience a schedule can generally be worked out that is best for the children involved.  Sometimes it is proper that visitation be supervised, in which case it must be determined who will be doing the supervising, where the visitation will occur, and who will pay the person doing the supervising.

6. Child support, when there are children involved.  In Georgia, child support depends on the incomes of the parents.  The methods of calculating child support can be explored with the forms and excel worksheets located at https://cscalc.gaaoc.us/.  Sometimes deviations can be used to alter the amount of child support downward or upward from the presumptive amount calculated by the child support worksheets.

Most importantly, divorce proceedings can be difficult emotionally and mentally -- not only for the two people divorcing, but also for their children and other family members.  While the lawyer (or lawyers) handle the legal issues and paperwork, it can be very helpful for those going through the separation and their children to find support group at a Christ-centered church.  Whether this support involves one-on-one counseling or the support of a group, emotional and spiritual support is essential to anyone going through a divorce.

Divorce is almost always difficult financially.  The family income that once went into one home will now be divided between two households if it is not increased.  Help from relatives and friends, often in the form of substantial financial aid, is a welcome blessing for individuals going through a divorce or separation, and almost always needed by those going through this difficult situation.