Frequently Asked Questions in Family Law

This all depends on the complexity of the divorce and whether or not the two parties are willing to come to an agreement concerning separation of assets, alimony, child support, custody and visitation. If the two parties filing divorce are willing to come to an agreement known as an uncontested divorce. The process is much faster and can be completed within two to three months from the date the paperwork is submitted to our firm.
However, if the two parties filing for divorce fail to come to an agreement before trial, the process can take much longer. This is known as a contested divorce. When this happens a judge will make the final decisions as far as distribution of marital assets, child support, custody, visitation alimony, and any other request made by both parties filing for divorce.

In most cases, it is a good idea to retain an attorney. If you have a child or children, it is difficult for anyone to adequately and correctly resolve a divorce without legal assistance. If you do not have a child or children and have few assets, you may be able to file the divorce without legal assistance. There are forms located on Fulton County Family Law website, www.fultoncourt.org, which can be very helpful for a simple divorce with no kids and minimal assets. These forms can also be used in other metro Atlanta County such as Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Gwinnett or Hall.

Possibly. If the payor of child support’s income is equal to or similar to the payee of child support’s income and the parties share physical custody it may be possible to avoid child support. The parties will have to show that the child support calculator supports the parties’ agreement to not pay child support.

Child support is determined by a child support worksheet that calculates a specific number for child support. The worksheet considers both parties’ incomes, health insurance premiums, day care expenses, private school expenses, extra-curricular expenses and other similar costs the parties spend for the benefit of the child or children. The worksheet also allows the Court to reduce or increase child support depending on the paying party’s income.

Mediation is a process that allows the parties to try to settle issues related to the legal proceeding. The parties, their attorneys and a mediator are present during a mediation. The mediator is a neutral person who provides the parties with a neutral opinion about the case. A mediator also presents the parties with his or her opinion about what he or she expects a judge or jury would decide. By examining the parties’ case and providing creative settlement options, the mediator helps the parties to resolve the matter without further litigation in court.

Many counties require the parties attend mediation before they are allowed to have a hearing before the judge. Your Alpharetta divorce lawyer can walk you through all of the steps involved leading up to mediation and the hearing.

A settlement agreement is the document that the parties sign in order to resolve issues relating to a divorce or other family law matter, including custody, visitation, child support, alimony, or separation of property It is important your attorney properly drafts the agreement to not only protect your rights but to also ensure the intent of the agreement is enforced at any subsequent contempt actions.


Whether you are entitled to alimony depends on the specific circumstances of your marriage. Alimony is based on the payor’s ability to pay and the payee’s need for alimony. Courts tend to steer away from an award of alimony that allows a party to never have to work again, except in certain circumstances. The amount and duration of alimony is based on the income of both parties, the parties’ lifestyles, the length of the marriage and the parties’ contribution to the marriage.

Whether you are entitled to keep the marital house depends on many factors. If you want to keep the house, you must consider whether you can afford the mortgage payment, insurance, repairs and other expenses without your spouse. You must also consider who is on both the title and mortgage and how the property and debt will be separated. The person who keeps the house will need to be the only person on the title and the only person responsible for the mortgage, even if the parties agree such a transfer will not occur for a year or two after the divorce.

If the parties cannot sell or re-finance the property at the time of the divorce, they may be able to obtain an assumption of the existing mortgage with the bank. An assumption is where the bank transfers the title and debt solely into one person’s name immediately after a divorce. Alternatively, the parties can agree, or the Court can order, a refinance or sale to occur after several years.

There are numerous ways to determine a self-employed spouse’s income. It depends on many factors including the type of business, the legal form of the business, how much cash the business handles and the amount of money used for personal expenses. Often, our attorneys work with forensic accountants to value a business and to determine income for the purposes of division of property, alimony and child support.

The IRS allows the party who has physical custody of the child/children more than 50% of the time to take the tax credit for the children. However, the parties can agree that the non-custodial parent can take the tax deduction.

One spouse cannot provide an ex-spouse with health insurance. After the divorce is final, each party will have to obtain his or her own insurance. The parties can agree, or the court can order, that one party reimburse the other for the health insurance premiums.

Georgia law does not allow a court to prevent a party from having primary custody or visitation with his or her child or children simply because he or she had an affair. The affair is considered an issue separate from visitation. In general, unless the cheating spouse is seeking alimony or is exposing the child or children to inappropriate conduct or people, affairs do not carry much weight with a court. A court is more interested in fairly dividing the property and deciding custody and child support issues.

In most cases, whether contested or uncontested, you will need to go to court for at least one hearing.

Child support can be modified in some situations. If there has been a significant change in the financial or personal situation of either parent or the child, a request for modification can be made. This change could include a substantial increase or decrease in income, a change in custody arrangements, a medical condition affecting the child’s needs, or other relevant factors.

A divorce mediator and a divorce lawyer play different roles in the process. A mediator is a neutral third party facilitating communication and negotiation between the divorcing couple. They help them reach agreements on issues such as division of assets, child custody, and support. The mediator does not provide legal advice but helps the parties find mutually acceptable solutions. On the other hand, a divorce lawyer represents one party in the divorce proceedings. They provide legal counsel, advocate for their client’s interests, and handle all legal aspects of the divorce, including negotiations, paperwork, and court representation.

Child support lawyers specialize in cases related to child support and provide various services. They can assist in establishing child support orders, modifying existing orders, or enforcing them. Child support lawyers help their clients gather and present evidence of income, expenses, and the child’s needs to ensure fair and accurate calculations of child support amounts. They can negotiate with the other parent or their attorney on behalf of their client and, if necessary, represent their client in court hearings related to child support matters.

A family law attorney can provide valuable assistance in various legal matters related to family law. Whether divorce, child custody and visitation, adoption, domestic violence, or other family-related legal issues, a family law attorney can guide you through the process, explain your rights and options, and represent your interests. They have in-depth knowledge of family law and can help you navigate the complex legal system, protecting your rights.

The duration of a contested divorce can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the issues, the willingness of the parties to cooperate, and the court’s schedule. In general, a contested divorce, where the parties cannot agree on all or some issues, can take significantly longer to resolve than an uncontested divorce. It may take several months to years, depending on the circumstances.
A contested and an uncontested divorce differ in how the parties agree on the issues. In a contested divorce, the spouses cannot agree on one or more critical issues, such as division of assets, child custody, or spousal support, often leading to more conflict. The court may intervene to decide on these matters. On the other hand, an uncontested divorce occurs when both spouses reach a mutual agreement on all aspects of the divorce. They resolve issues without court intervention through negotiation, mediation, or collaborative processes. Uncontested divorces generally have a more straightforward and faster resolution compared to contested divorces.

To initiate a custody or visitation modification, you must follow specific steps. First, consult with a family law attorney to understand the requirements and procedures in your jurisdiction. Generally, you must file a petition or motion with the court that handled your original custody or visitation order. This petition should outline the reasons for seeking the modification and provide supporting evidence or documentation.