Family Law FAQ

Family Law FAQ | Andrews & Sanders Law Offices

Family Law Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of Family Law FAQ:

1. Question: What is the residency requirement for getting a divorce in Georgia?

As one of the most commonly asked family law FAQ in our area, the answer is : One spouse must have been domiciled in Georgia for at least six months. But if it is a military couple who are not from Georgia, the soldier must be stationed at a fort or post in Georgia for 12 months before filing. Domicile is a fancy legal word for a person’s permanent home. This is an example of subject-matter jurisdiction to give the Court power over the marriage.

2. Question: Where should the divorce action be filed?

Answer: Generally, a complaint for divorce should be filed in the Superior Court of the other spouse’s county of residence, that is, where the defendant resides.

If the other spouse has moved out of the county where the marital home is located, and been gone from County for less than 6 months, the complaint may be filed in the marital county where the plaintiff still resides.

After six months, the action is to be filed in the defendant’s new county, unless it is out-of-state – then it can be in plaintiff’s county.

3. Question: I just received a complaint for divorce from my spouse, now what?

Answer: First, contact a Family Law Attorney. There is a lawyer for every budget. You have 30 days to “answer” the complaint in writing. However, the 30 day clock does not start to run until you have been served with the complaint. In order to have proper service in Georgia, service must be made by either delivering a copy of the complaint to the defendant personally, or by leaving Summons and process at the defendant’s house with someone of suitable age and discretion.

4. Question: Can a divorce be obtained from someone whose whereabouts are unknown?

Answer: Yes, Georgia allows for service to be completed by publication in the newspaper. In order for service to be completed by publication the Plaintiff has to swear under oath that despite the very best efforts the defendant cannot be found.

In this case, the court can award a divorce and divide property only within the jurisdiction of the Court in Georgia, and possibly award child support to the custodial parent.

5. Question: What is a “no-fault” divorce?

Another very popular question we get asked in family law FAQ: Georgia allows for individuals to get divorced based on grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken, meaning that at least one party is willing to swear that the marriage is over and there is no hope of reconciliation. While it is not necessary to show that there was fault or marital misconduct by either party, fault in the break-up of the marriage is still an important factor in deciding who gets what in equitable division and who pays what in alimony, temporary or permanent.

6. Question: What are the “fault” grounds?

Answer: A divorce can be filed in Georgia based any of 12 “fault” grounds.
The most popular fault grounds are
Unknown Impotence of the man at the time of getting married
Unknown pregnancy of the woman by another man at time of marriage
Adultery by either spouse
Desertion for at least one year by the other spouse
Spouse goes to prison for 2 years or longer
Habitual drunkenness or drug addiction
Cruel treatment
Incurable mental illness.

But it is one thing to allege such matters. You must prove with evidence the claimed marital misconduct or fault grounds exist.

7. Question: How does the court divide the marital assets?

Answer: Georgia divides marital property under the concept of “equitable division” which basically means whatever is fair under the circumstances. When dealing with property, both personal property and real estate, it is important to distinguish between separate property and marital property. Generally, separate property is property that was acquired prior to the marriage and not subject to equitable division. Marital property is property that was acquired during the marriage, other than by gift or inheritance and is subject to equitable division.

8. Question: What is alimony?

Answer: Alimony is generally a support payment by one spouse to the other spouse. Alimony is generally not available to a spouse who caused the dissolution of the marriage by adultery or desertion. Alimony may be paid in a one-time lump sum, periodic payments for a limited time or until the receiving spouse dies or remarries. Alimony is awarded to either spouse in accordance with the needs of the spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay.

Factors the court will consider in determining alimony include the length of the marriage; health of each party; assets of each party; and the contributions of each party to homemaking, child raising, and career building of the other party.

9. Question: What is “Joint Legal Custody”?

Answer: Joint legal custody means that both parents have the right to make decisions affecting the children such as education, medical, religious, extra-curricular and so on.

10. Question: What is “Physical Custody”?

Answer: Physical custody is the term used to describe with whom the children are to live. The parent the children live with the majority of the time is known as the custodial parent and the other parent is the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent is generally entitled to reasonable visitation either based on an agreed schedule or a Court Ordered schedule.

11. Question: What is a parent’s child support obligations?

Answer: Georgia requires both parents to provide assistance to their child until 18 years of age, and sometimes beyond

The non-custodial parent will generally pay money as child support to the custodial parent. Child Support Guidelines are in effect in Georgia. A complicated calculation is required to determine the support obligation based on the needs of the child.

The amount will hinge on numerous factors including time the non-custodial parent spends with the child, the age of the child, day care costs, medical costs, education costs, significant income or debt of either party, and obligations to another household.

Calculation of child support now makes it almost impossible to do well without expert assistance.

 

Do you have a question that wasn’t listed on our Family Law FAQ page? Give us a call: 866-959-3108

Based in Savannah, Georgia, we serve clients throughout Coastal Georgia, including Springfield, Rincon, Pooler, Brunswick, Darien, Statesboro, Hinesville, Richmond Hill, Pembroke, Woodbine, Bloomingdale, Hindsville, Garden City, Pooler, Port Wentworth, Thunderbolt, Tybee Island and other communities in Chatham County, Effingham County, Liberty County, Bryan County, Bulloch County, Long County, McIntosh County, Glynn County and Camden County. We also represent service members at Fort Stewart Military Reservation and Hunter Army Airfield, and we handle certain military law matters for clients nationwide.