Atlanta Family Law

Family Law

Issues and disagreements arise in families every day, but sometimes resolution requires legal action. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s essential for you to know that you have informed and diligent attorneys vigorously advocating on your behalf. While passionate in championing your case, our firm is not unduly aggressive, as we believe the most advantageous results – legally, emotionally and financially – often come from a collaborative approach.

Laws regarding the family span the womb to the grave, and our attorneys have experience at every stage, from surrogacy contracts and adoptions, to estate planning and probating wills. We can help you plan ahead in relationships by drafting or reviewing prenuptial agreements or postnuptial contracts, or help you revisit a previous case where the custody, child support or visitation clauses need to be modified or enforced.

Our firm is especially proud of the reputation we have fighting for LGBT individuals and families in Georgia. Whether advocating for relationship and parental rights for LGBT individuals, or assisting transgender clients legally change their names and gender marker on birth certificates, using the law to empower and protect LGBT Georgians is something Kitchens New Cleghorn has done every day of the 17 years our firm has existed.

There are many parts of Family Law that can be unpleasant, but your attorney shouldn’t be one of them. At Kitchens New Cleghorn, we have the legal knowledge and breadth of courtroom experience to advocate fiercely on your behalf, and the compassion to understand this is likely a difficult and unforeseen experience for clients. Selecting an attorney for intimate and personal matters is an important decision, and we would be honored if you trusted our attorneys to advocate on your behalf.

Although people use these terms interchangeably, they are actually three distinct legal actions that affect marital status. To remember these differences, we need to first look at legal separation.

Unlike divorces and annulments, legal separations do not result in the termination of a union. Instead, couples may begin making the necessary decisions – division of assets, custody of children, spousal support, to name a few – to prepare for a potential split without cutting the cord right then and there. One of the main benefits of legal separation is that couples can simply request to be reclassified as married if they reconcile.

But, if the couple deems the union unsalvageable, then divorce simply becomes a formality. The couple has already addressed the difficult decisions during the separation process.

Annulment means that the marriage itself should have been declared “null and void” from the beginning. Reasons for annulment can include any number of grounds, such as mental incompetence, being underage without parental consent to marry, coercion or fraud, bigamy, and incest.

Divorce, in comparison, is a formal dissolution of a legal marriage.

Aside from consulting with a qualified divorce attorney, there are a few things you can do if your marriage is beyond repair. At this point, the most important action to take alone is to gather all financial documents about your assets and debts.

Your assets include mortgage, bank, and retirement account statements and appraisals of objects. Your debts include student loans, mortgage loans, and credit card debt. An experienced attorney can use your financial records to argue on your behalf about how to distribute assets.

If you have children, continue living with your spouse as you negotiate a workable, yet non-binding, custody agreement. The obvious exception to this rule is if you or your children are subjected to violence or abuse. In this case, speak with an attorney about filing a protective order as soon as you can. In any case, the documentation of relevant actions and words is a good practice.

According to Georgia law, the mother gets sole custody of a child born to an unmarried couple. The father must establish legitimate paternity of the child to get custody rights.

Legitimization occurs only when the biological father proves a legal relationship to the child by filing a petition in the mother’s county of residence. A simple DNA test will not suffice to prove legality. The petition must include the child’s name, sex, and age; the mother’s name; and any name change the petitioner desires for the child (if applicable).

After the biological father files this legitimization action, the mother may challenge it. She may state that the petitioning father is not, in fact, the child’s paternal father or has not adequately developed a relationship with the child.

If the courts grant the petition to the father, the father and mother may not address custody rights, parenting time, and visitation rights.

While you may think you will have a simple divorce, just remember that even the most amicable divorce you can imagine may encounter obstacles. For that reason, we strongly recommend consulting an attorney at the very least. An attorney will make sure you are getting your fair share in the divorce agreement negotiated by you and your spouse before you sign it.

For most cases, however, there will be significant roadblocks to manage. An experienced divorce attorney will help you navigate these unfamiliar waters, especially in regard to divorce law in Georgia.

Usually, the first legal ground you need to establish before getting a divorce is residency. Most states require a period of residency, typically six to twelve months, before you are able to file for divorce in that state.

The state of filing will go a long way in determining whether your divorce will be a fault or no-fault divorce; the legal grounds vary state-to-state for each type. In fault divorces, where one or both parties to a divorce assign blame of the marriage’s failure on the other, the legal grounds may include abandonment, incarceration, adultery, mental illness, sexual impotence, cruelty, and more. In no-fault divorces, where each party takes responsibility or does not assign blame, the legal ground most often cited is “irreconcilable differences.”

If the divorcing couple cannot come to an agreement on the division of assets, they can submit a request to one of two entities. The first is a third-party mediator, who will objectively determine the proper distribution of personal property and assets (and debts, for that matter). The second is the court itself, which will grant the assets to each divorcing party based on state law. State laws governing the division of assets typically fall under two categories: community property and equitable distribution.

Family Law Services

We can help with any family legal issue you may have. Please review the services we offer at our firm:

Atlanta Family Law Attorneys

Personalized Strategy for Individual Needs

At Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC our Atlanta Family Law Lawyers have decades of experience helping individuals and families navigate Georgia’s legal system and courts. Whether you are going through a divorce, need child custody or child support modifications, seeking alimony, or need a prenuptial agreement; our team-oriented approach ensures you receive accurate and timely information, expert guidance, and competent representation. Led by attorney Shawna Woods and John DiNatale, the Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC’s team of Atlanta family law lawyers will fight to protect your legal and financial interests.

MEET SHAWNA M. WOODS:
YOUR FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY

Shawna M. Woods is an Of-Counsel Attorney at Kitchens New Cleghorn. Prior to coming to Kitchens New Clegorn, Shawna was Partner at Law Firm in Forsyth County specializing exclusively in Family Law. She also had successful solo Family Law practice in Fulton County and had worked several years with the Special Assistant to the Attorney General for Child Support Enforcement. Call 404-781-1580 for immediate assistance
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MEET JOHN DINATALE: YOUR FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY

John DiNatale leads Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC’s Family Law Practice. John joined the firm in 2018, after operating a solo practice for several years in Atlanta. Born and raised in Marietta, Georgia, John worked as a literary agent in New York City after graduating from the University of Georgia and later, before law school, designed productions for a major Atlanta arts and culture center. His legal philosophy is simple: represent Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC clients with loyalty, respect, and selfless service. Call 404-671-0592 for immediate assistance
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Jeff Cleghorn, Of Counsel

Jeffery M. Cleghorn is an Of-Counsel Attorney at Kitchens New Cleghorn. Read More.


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Contact Us Today

Let our experienced family law attorneys get the results you deserve. Call today at (404) 844-2856 or fill out the form below and we'll contact you promptly.






What Our Clients Are Saying

Dan Sobbott

Kitchens New Cleghorn represented me in a recent divorce, and my experience with them was excellent. They were competent and strong advocates on my behalf. They did a pretty good job of forcing my ex-wife's attorney to move through the process. They were available when needed and communicated well throughout the entire process. Finally, they were extremely fair and honest with their billing practices and charges. I would strongly recommend Kitchens New Cleghorn as divorce attorneys.

Dan Sobbott

Shannon Hames

I hired an inexpensive lawyer to represent me in my divorce. After my preliminary hearing, I realized that it was the biggest mistake I ever made. After hearing good things about Jeff Cleghorn, I hired him to finish my divorce. Not only did he do an fantastic job, but the entire staff there was absolutely amazing - very caring and compassionate. Jeff did much more than my previous attorney and genuinely cared about my outcome and my future. I highly recommend this law firm and would not hesitate to use them again.

Shannon Hames

Selma Rapoport-Zolotas

I hired Joyce Kitchens for assistance in a legal matter. Ms. Kitchens was professional and was able to stand by me and gave me excellent legal advice. She helped me succeed in my case. She has also responded to me when I have called her with questions....I trust her. 5 stars and more

Selma Rapoport-Zolotas

Family Law Services

Helping clients achieve favorable resolutions – Sample Case Types Include:

High Net Worth Division Strategies

Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC is well versed in helping clients achieve positive outcomes in divorce cases involving the division of high-asset marital estates. Having someone help you understand your rights and obligations regarding asset division is crucial for a successful resolution. Mr. DiNatale works with clients to create a strategic solution that will help achieve your desired results.

High net worth asset division can be among the most complicated, emotionally charged aspects of any divorce. When considering real estate, potential business ownership, investments and more, the divorce attorneys at Kitchens New Cleghorn brings their focused business acumen to your specific circumstances in order to create a strategy to protect and preserve assets in an equitable manner. With expert legal and financial experience in high net worth division strategies, all factors are reviewed and analyzed to ensure there’s protection for what is important to clients.

High-Intensity Child Custody Disputes

When dealing with a child custody dispute it is imperative that you have experienced counsel with the skills needed to properly navigate the Atlanta legal process in your favor. John DiNatale and his team have successfully represented numerous clients on sensitive child custody disputes and have helped achieve positive outcomes in many high-intensity situations.

Contested Divorce Litigation in Atlanta & Surrounding Areas

A contested divorce occurs when spouses can’t agree on vital issues concerning the breakup of their marital union. Some of those can include:

  • Terms of alimony payments
  • Child custody arrangements/schedules
  • Division of marital property
  • And More

In some instances a divorce is acrimonious and contested from day 1, and in other instances spouses may begin the divorce process on the same page with regards to sensitive issues only to find they ultimately disagree. In either case, when an agreement on personal details can’t be reached, a court will usually suggest mediation to reach a settlement and avoid a more costly and emotional trial. Should that process not work, the divorce would proceed to trial. It’s key that you have experienced litigation attorneys familiar with the trial process that will work hard to present the court with facts and information that will benefit you. If you think your divorce will be contested and may reach trial, reach out to our Atlanta contested divorce attorneys to discuss the details of your case.

Additional Georgia Divorce Information

Under Georgia law, one or both of spouses must have lived in the state for at least six months prior to filing. In addition, you must choose one of 13 grounds under which you may file for a divorce, ranging from adultery, where one party has been unfaithful, to desertion, in which one spouse has not been residing with or providing any financial support to the other spouse for more than a year. In most cases, we may recommend filing for a ‘no-fault divorce’, meaning simply that one spouse states the marriage is irreparably broken. While an uncontested divorce can take as little as 30 to 60 days, in the case of a contested divorce it can take considerably longer.

Divorce is never a pleasant experience, but there is no need to go through it alone. Important life decisions such as ending a marriage require time, patience and skilled legal assistance.


Family Law Information Center

When it comes to Family Law, we understand it may appear difficult to navigate. When you need an Atlanta Family Law attorney who understands you, reach out to Kitchens, New and Cleghorn. When you need additional resources to pull from before or after meeting with one our attorneys, you can visit the Family Law Information Center in the Superior Court of Fulton County.
The Family Law Information Center (FLIC) was developed to assist people in domestic legal matters or educate themselves about domestic issues. You can obtain FLIC legal forms and packets with instructions available to assist in the following areas:

  • Divorce
  • Name Change
  • Legitimation
  • Contempt
  • Child Support Modification
  • Visitation
  • Separation Agreement

There is a $2 fee for most forms and packets obtained from the FLIC location to cover the cost of reproduction. Copies cost 15 cents per page.

You can access and print many of the forms and packets online at no charge by clicking: LEGAL FORMS & INSTRUCTIONS

Phone: 404-612-2789
Address: 185 Central Avenue Southwest, Atlanta, Georgia 30303

Family Law

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Consultation

Contact us at 404.844.2856 today for a consultation. Our Flagship office is located in the heart of Buckhead at 2973 Hardman Court, Atlanta, GA 30305.

Advisement

The information provided on this website is general and for information only and does not constitute legal advice for any particular situation of facts and circumstances. If you have need for legal advice, please consult with an attorney for your specific questions.

Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC Review :

Thank you Jon and all of KNC for standing by me during these unpleasant times. Your knowledge, experience and advice was exactly what I needed. I will not hesitate to call on you again.
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Whether your legal matters are simple or complex, Jeff Cleghorn and Randy New can work for you, quickly, efficiently and thoroughly. They and their colleagues are experienced, knowledgeable individuals of high moral standards. That’s what we need when we look for legal help.

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With a team of law professionals that is almost unsurpassed, Kitchens New Cleghorn is your top choice. Joyce Kitchens, Randy New and Jeff Cleghorn fight for their clients.

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