Atlanta 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.
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.