Working with a family lawyer is something that many people have to do at some time in their lives. Family law covers a wide range of life milestones for many people and couples. Our team of attorneys helps people finalize their divorce or to adopt a child. A Fayetteville family lawyer at Wade Law is the key to the upcoming change in your life.
You may feel hesitant to get in touch with a family attorney. It’s normal to want to handle these personal situations independently. However, many times people need someone with legal prowess to navigate complex language or legalese.
Laws that are in place, language on forms and the fees that come with submitting forms incorrectly are all aspects of family law that people need help handling. Additionally, there are some aspects of family law that require the guidance of an attorney, such as attempting to modify a child custody agreement.
Through helping many people within the Fayetteville area, we’ve come to understand the dynamics present in these cases. If you need the dissolution of your marriage or need support during a child support struggle, Call the Wade Law Offices for help. To help you right now, we’re answering the two most common questions we encounter with prospective clients.
Table of Contents
How Much Does A Fayetteville Family Lawyer Cost?
Across the board lawyers, charge fees different, and those different fees come with widely varying price tags. A few of the factors involved n how much a family lawyer can cost are reputation, location, experience, and education. For example, a well-experienced divorce attorney with a reputation for obtaining generous terms can charge a substantial amount. Whereas a Georgia lawyer who just passed the Bar exam will likely charge much lower rates.
Hourly rates are among the most publicly well-known. Typically, an hourly attorney will charge you either by 15-minute increments or by six-minute increments (1/10 of an hour). This method of billing will account for every minute that your attorney spends on your case.
If you call your Fayetteville, Georgia family lawyer, they will begin billing you. Say you had a five-minute conversation and your attorney charges in 15-minute milestones they will bill that five-minute conversation as 15-minutes. Additionally, if you have a quick meeting with them that lasts for 16 minutes, your bill will reflect a 30-minute session as that’s the next increment for billing.
It is important to note with billing hourly that cheaper hourly rates do not mean a more affordable attorney. You may get a better “deal” with an attorney who charges more per hour but is more efficient with their time and case management.
Outside of hourly attorneys, some family law attorneys will use a flat-fee system. These Fayetteville lawyers will usually give you a large sum upfront for their rate. Then the billing arrangement will apply towards any variety of issues that come up during your case. A flat-rate billing system is more common in clear cases.
A flat fee would be best if you have already agreed upon the division of assets with your spouse and can make an amicable separation. Flat fees are best when you need an attorney to ensure that you complete everything correctly. Do be careful with flat fees and ask if those include court costs or fees for filing paperwork.
If you’re concerned about money or feel that you are unable to hire an attorney, you may have access to free legal advice. Research the possible resources in Fayetteville for legal guidance, but know that many will require you to do all the legwork yourself.
Why Should I Hire A Family Law Attorney?
Lawyers go through extensive training and have an education that enables them to argue on your behalf. They often master areas or tools used in debates and can construct an image that accurately portrays your situation. Using their experience and knowledge, they will work within the legal requirements while striving to get you the best outcome possible.
When it comes to handling divorce paperwork, they can deliver on legal requirements that you can’t get with a notary. Notaries don’t have any required legal training, don’t have anyone overseeing their work, and cannot represent you in legal matters. If a notary provides you with false information or weak guidance, there is no recourse.
You should always rely on an experienced attorney for legal advice. In Georgia, attorneys must complete a certain amount of legal education each year. The Georgia State Bar also expects them to remain up to date on changes within state and federal law.
Fayetteville Divorce Lawyer
Family law matters often involve divorce. Although the divorce rate is dropping steadily, there are still many couples that are choosing to part ways. Divorce attorneys can help people finalize simple cases where the two involved already have a separation plan.
But divorce attorneys are often more helpful in complex cases. An attorney can speak on your behalf and argue for you when it comes to sensitive topics. Issues such as dividing assets and investments are beginning hurdles in a “messy” divorce.
No two divorces are the same. Each couple has a different history and nuances of their personality that can make the process easy or difficult. Then factoring in issues such as domestic violence, or problems when handling outstanding charges, a divorce can become a long ordeal. At the end of a divorce case, both parties want to move on with their life. Divorce attorneys are integral parts of negotiation asset distribution or liquidation. Additionally, they may serve in other capacities such as in child support or custody negotiations.
When looking at divorce as a whole, Georgia has many areas of the law that come into play. The simple act of filing forms and living separately is not the end of handling a divorce. It’s difficult for couples to project the outcome of a divorce and leaning on legal guidance can keep things relatively simple.
After working with couples going through a divorce for years, we’ve seen these questions surface again and again. These frequently asked questions might help you clear up some concerns you have about the process.
How Does the Divorce Process Work?
As a family, each divorce process will look different. As a whole, there is a static process, however, and as you introduce family aspects, it will begin to change. Your attorney must understand the static legal process. Facets such as executing a strategy and meeting the needs of the client are the foundation of a decent divorce attorney.
During the divorce process, you will need to work with legal aid to resolve any outstanding issues. Divorces are not easy, and many of these topics are challenging to handle even in the best of times.
You must resolve issues with child management. Who will support them, where will they live? These questions are the beginning of child support and child custody arrangements. It is possible to come to quick agreements on these topics, but that is very uncommon.
Other issues to resolve include assets and spousal support. If one spouse provided for the other for any number of years, they might receive spousal support. The applicability of alimony will depend entirely on your unique situation. Then when it comes to dividing assets, you may find out you’re responsible for their debt as well as the division of property. Even paying an attorney’s fees can come into discussion during the divorce process.
Essentially, the divorce process is proving, on paper, what belongs to whom. That involves the children, future income, outstanding debt, assets, and investments.
How Long Does It Take to Get A Divorce?
The length of a divorce case depends on how much work you and your spouse can put in before opening a case. If the pair of you can negotiate terms and resolve outstanding issues before filing a lawsuit, you have an “uncontested case.” When submitting the uncontested case, you will begin the state’s mandatory 31 day period for waiting. After the waiting period, the State of Georgia will take your case to court for a final judgment and provide a decree of divorce. With an uncontested case, you can have a finalized divorce in 31 days.
A contested case can come from a few issues. Either some aspects are not resolvable between the couple in terms of child custody and assets or someone does not want the divorce. These cases have to go through a “Collaborative Law” process. These cases have no time frame. When filing these cases, there is no set waiting period. There are no deadlines for resolution on outstanding issues.
The aspects that play a major part in how long a collaborative law process will take include:
- The county of the case
- Your actions and your spouse’s actions
- Involved Guardian ad Litem or other experts
- How the judge handles their workload
It is possible that you resolved your issues, but the judge involved has delayed any hearing or mediation. They may have put your case at the bottom of their workload. Because of the given information in the case or the outlook of the outcome. During these situations, our team will do everything possible to keep your divorce moving forward and keep you informed.
Do I Have to Go To Court?
Not necessarily. Appearing in court is usually something that happens during a contested divorce case. When you and your spouse can’t agree on certain things, a judge will decide. You have likely seen renditions of this regarding child custody, alimony, and distribution of the assets. To start your divorce, you will file a complaint with the court system. With the help of a Fayetteville attorney, you may not need to step foot in a courtroom until receiving the Decree of Divorce.
Many cases see a full resolution without having either person enter a courtroom. However, some judges will call in the parties to ensure that the marriage is irreparable. If a judge believes there is hope for reconciliation, they may urge each party to take a waiting period. If you receive this type of notice from a judge, you may not have to appear. You may need to submit an affidavit where you swear that the marriage is beyond repair and wish for a finalized divorce decree.
Working with a Fayetteville divorce attorney can scale down issues that are irrelevant or disrupting the process of moving forward.
What Documents Do I Need To Provide To Begin My Divorce?
In addition to a formal complaint to initiate your divorce, you’ll need many other documents. Collect your recent tax return copies, any recent paystubs and other proof of income. Then you will need to gather your bank statements and any statements on retirement accounts or open credit cards. Additional documents that show assets and debts will be necessary as well. The payment on your mortgage, stock options, inheritance, and business information is a business that is part of your lives.
The State of Georgia requires that each person complete a Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit. Your attorney will explain how to prepare this form and will provide it at your first meeting.
Fayetteville Child Support Lawyer
Child support is a big topic that often fits into divorce. Couples can continue fighting over child support for years after the divorce is final, and they may need to meet annually to discuss changes. If you’re already struggling with handling this issue, then you need to prepare to continue to battle it out until your child has become an adult.
The court system will usually step in and determine child support. They may also give information on the collection of backpay or how to handle future payments. In some instances, you can file a tax lien or a garnishment. Child support is meant purely for the children and their needs. However, the parents involved will often use it as leverage to harm one another. Other complications involving the parents can impact support, such as paying support for a child when there is a protective order against the payee.
Child support does not have restrictions to only the parent’s involved either. A guardian or caretaker can seek child support. Essentially if the person has full custody of the children, they can likely pursue child support.
Other situations, such as part-time custody or complex living arrangements, may affect your ability to seek monetary support for the child. Divorce and child custody pair often. In more cases than not, child custody and child support connect closely. Here are some FAQs that we encounter consistently on the topic of child support.
What Is Child Support?
Child support is a form of assistance, usually monetary. Essentially a parent or parents pay to the person financially supporting the child. Parents are not able to waive the child’s right to receive such support. Within Georgia, the state requires parents to provide support for their children until they are 18-years-old and graduated from high school; this is a public policy.
May I Visit My Child If I Pay Child Support?
Custodial support or visitation rights are not the same as child support. Merely supporting a child financially does not permit parents the right to see or interact with the child. A non-custodial parent, or a parent without custody, must go through the court system and petition for visitation rights.
If I Don’t Receive Child Support, Where Can I Go To Begin The Process?
One of the most frequent struggles that parents or guardians face is collecting child support. A judge directing someone to pay child support does not mean that you’ll receive that money. The process to initiate child support starts with the Child Support Services office. You can find this office within the Georgia Division of Child Support Services.
Apply for child support online and then wait for notification from the Georgia Department of Human Resources. They will assist any custodial parent or guardian in collecting payments and backpay. These agencies also work to connect non-custodial parents to their children by helping them initiate child support payments independently.
A parent must support the child until:
- The child turns 18
- The custodial parent marries
- The child becomes emancipated
There are a few cases where a parent is still liable for support after the child turns 18. A common example of this is when a child turns 18 at the beginning of their senior year in high school. Parents must continue to provide support until completion of high school or until the age of 20.
How Long Will It Take to Process My Application For Child Support?
All cases will go through the process of verifying and locating the parent cited in the application. Then you may petition the court or notify the parent that you’ve submitted your application through the Department of Child Support Services. If there are outstanding paternity issues, those would need resolution at this time. Then finally, the case will change hands, and an Enforcement Agent will handle legal action necessary for processing payments.
Unfortunately, there is no clear cut timeline on a child support application.
How Is The Amount Of Child Support Calculated?
Georgia, like many other states, has concise guidelines that depend on the parent’s income and expenses as well as the needs of the child. The purpose behind having these guidelines is to help judges make fair and consistent decisions. Judges may deviate from the guidelines when there is a good reason or as they can justify the changes.
A typical example of deviating from the guidelines is when a child comes with high expenses. Higher than ordinary costs may be due to medical needs or a school choice which both parents agreed upon.
Judges can also deviate from the guidelines when there is proof that the party is earning less than possible to evade child support payments. Imagine if your former spouse had experience working in IT, then after receiving a child support letter takes a part-time job at a fast-food place. That is clear evidence that they left the possibility to earn more to evade payments.
All judges will weigh these factors as part of the child support orders or judgment:
- Standard of living for the child before divorce or separation
- The ability to pay (of the non-custodial parent)
- Needs and income of the custodial parent
- Educational costs, child’s needs, daycare expense, additional medical expenses
Fayetteville Child Custody Lawyer
Child support is one battle when it comes to managing finances. However, child custody is a different struggle. When you and the other parent, or perhaps a guardian, are fighting over custody, it’s difficult for everyone involved. The child may become confused or have other struggles emotionally while dealing with the effect of a child custody case.
Additionally, custody and visitation may have particular rules laid out that are difficult for both parents. When handling a child custody situation involving an attorney can ease the tension. An attorney can help you manage expectations and set realistic goals for the outcome.
If you’re not sure that you need a child custody attorney, you should look for some of the common red flags. When your former partner obtains an attorney, you need someone on your side. They’re working at full capacity to ensure they get what they want, and you should do the same.
Another issue that Fayetteville child custody attorneys help with is the outstanding seriousness of a situation. If you believe that your children are in danger or either parent is in a treatment program, you need legal representation.
Our clients often contact us with these questions.
What’s the Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody?
Legal custody is the parent’s ability to make decisions for the child. These decisions include medical care, religious affiliation, education, and travel. Many parents that don’t have physical custody still retain some degree of legal custody. Most cases refer to “custody” generally as the physical custody, or where the child will live most of the time.
Can I Get Full Physical Custody?
It’s possible, but not likely. The court systems priority in child custody cases is to look out for the best interest of any involved children. Because of that goal, the State of Georgia places weighty emphasis on the availability and presence of both parents. The most common child custody resolution in Georgia is joint-custody. Joint-custody agreements do not all look the same, and many different variations of joint-custody are available. Parents may choose to opt for split custody where each takes one child, however full physical custody is rare.
You may have a chance at full physical custody if there is a history of family violence or protective order in place.
How Do the Courts Determine Custody and Visitation?
Georgia courts will determine both custody and visitation with many factors in mind. First, they will determine what is best for the children. Then the judge will look at other factors such as lifestyle and who has the availability to function as a primary caretaker. If children are older, they may be able to speak and tell the judge who they would rather live with and why. That statement will not always sway a judge, but it may carry some weight. Additionally, any presence of past spousal or child abuse, criminal history, or drug use may factor into this decision. Our team of attorneys has a wealth of experience in presenting a strong argument to support your side of these events.
Custody Evaluation in Georgia
An alternative to traditional child custody processes is a custody evaluation. The State of Georgia works with licensed psychologists to evaluate parents and families for custody worthiness.
The psychologist will perform testing, observations, conduct interviews, and then prepare a report. That report will help a judge decide on custody or visitation privileges. Usually, a custody evaluation comes into play when one parent has concerns for the other’s mental health. Fayetteville child custody lawyers can help you prepare for a custody evaluation. That way, you can know what to expect from this uncommon practice.
Georgia Custody Modifications
Although a judge’s decision is binding, there is an opportunity for medication. Many parents seek out modifications of custody agreements as they go through various life changes. That modification can only be sought out if a material change is present. That means a change that impacts the welfare or best interest of the child. One example is of a parent moving either closer or further away.
Legal and physical custody can change over time and only through modifications. To start the modification process, you must initiate a Petition for Modification. Keep in mind that if you deviate from a written agreement with a spoken agreement, you have no protection. That spoken agreement is not enforceable.
In addition to changing child custody, child support will almost always change with it. Child support most often goes to the parent with the most custody. As for custody changes, you should know that you’ll face changes in support and may have to go back to court for that as well.
Fayetteville Adoption Attorney
Adopting a child is a wonderful and stressful event in any adults life. When you begin the journey of finding a little person to fit in with your family, it might seem like adoption is far off in the future. The long process and often unique scenarios that come with adoption make it best for everyone involved to take things slowly.
For example, an aunt adopting a nephew might seem like a straightforward process from the outside. However, the waiting periods involved, paperwork, and more can make this shift take months or even years. When you go through direct route such as through an adoption agency, there is not much guarantee that the process will be any faster.
Putting the timeline of adoption aside, there are many other concerns. Who can adopt and are there any benefits for newly adoptive parents? A Fayetteville adoption attorney can guide you through what benefits you might qualify for and how to file for a Georgia state adoption.
Working with people who want to adopt have made us more aware of the common questions. Review these frequently asked questions to obtain a better understanding of the adoption process.
Who Can Adopt in The State Of Georgia?
Georgia has some precise requirements on who can or cannot adopt children. To adopt a person must meet these standards:
- Be at least 25 and living with a spouse, if a relative of the child, must be at least 21.
- Be at least ten years older than the child, unless it is a stepparent or a relative.
- Be a resident of Georgia at the time of the petition or meet the Interstate Compact on the Placement of children compliance regulations.
- Be financially, mentally, and physically ready for permanent custody of a child.
Where Should I File An Adoption?
The State of Georgia encourages prospective adoptive parents to file with the Superior Court of your residence. However, you may need to file a petition with the county’s court for where the child lives currently. Or if the child is with a child-placing agency, you may need to petition to the court of that county.
Are There Adoption Benefits?
There is assistance for adoption when taking in children with special needs. The State of Georgia provides:
- Monthly support
- Special services adoption assistance
- Non-recurring assistance
How Do You Apply For Adoption Benefits?
To apply, you need to contact the State of Georgia’s Department of Human Resources then reach out to their inner Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). As the adoptive family, you must take a copy of the petition and the adoption order to the DFCS. A judge must supply the order for a hearing for benefits, and this must take place before the adoption is final.
Contact Our Georgia Family Attorneys for A Consultation
No matter your needs, the Wade Law Offices can help you resolve your family matters. Our team aids couples in seeking out an amicable divorce or helping people grow their family through adoption. A Fayetteville family lawyer can help guide you through child custody and support struggles as well.
We know that these topics are sensitive and that your case is unique. The Wade Law Offices provides consultations for people seeking legal guidance. During your consultation, you can discover what options are available and how long your legal process could take. Our goal is always to help you with a positive outcome.