Family Law FAQs
Alpharetta Family Law Attorney Answering Your Most Commonly Asked Questions
When you have questions about issues involving your family and its future, you need clear answers quickly from an experienced Alpharetta family law attorney. At North Metro Litigators, we know that your family means more than anything. We stand ready to provide you with clear, actionable guidance so you feel empowered to take control of your life. With free initial consultations and the personal attention that sensitive family matters require, we are your allies and advocates for all legal matters involving family law.
Here are some of the more common family law questions we hear at North Metro Litigators:
What Is “Family Law?”
If a situation arises involving a spouse, parent, child, grandparent or another relative that raises legal issues, it is a family law matter. Divorce and related issues are a big part of family law, but many issues can and often do come up outside of the end of a marriage or long after the ink dries on a final divorce decree. New circumstances, new problems or new opportunities may require modifications to custody, support or spousal support. A parent’s behavior may be so disturbing or dangerous that action needs to be taken to protect the child or a former spouse. All these issues are best resolved with the help of a knowledgeable Alpharetta family law attorney.
My Former Spouse Is Making a Lot More Money Now Than He Did When We Got Divorced and Child Support Amounts Were Set. Can I Ask for an Increase in Support?
Yes. Life is full of changes, and the law allows a divorced parent to petition the court for a modification of child support amounts if those changes are material and significant enough. Big increases or decreases in income or assets can justify a modification, as can increased needs or expenses of the child. But courts will look carefully at any modification requests to ensure that a parent is not intentionally reducing his or her earnings in an attempt to limit their support obligations.
Can My Former Spouse File Bankrupt to Get Out of Child Support or Alimony Obligations?
No. Unlike many other obligations, “domestic support payments” are not-dischargeable and must be paid in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings. Although there are exceptions to the rules, typically in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, child support and alimony obligations are priority debts that will remain the responsibility of the debtor and cannot be discharged.
Similarly, in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, child support obligations will be treated as priority debts. This means that those obligations will be the first to get paid. Debtors must make support payments as they continue to come due and any arrearage will be paid through the plan. The plan must ensure that all past due payments are paid in full by the conclusion of the plan. A debtor who fails to make payments as required by the plan can lose all protections that Chapter 13 provides them.
Is Alimony Always Awarded in a Georgia Divorce?
No. There is no automatic right to alimony or spousal maintenance in Georgia. However, many spouses are on unequal economic footing when a marriage is ending, often because one spouse was the main income earner while the other may have sacrificed their career or earning potential raising children or supporting their spouse’s career. In such circumstances, alimony can be awarded both during the divorce proceedings for a set period after that or on an indefinite basis.
I Just Received an Inheritance From My Parents and I’m Getting Divorced. Is My Soon-to-Be Ex Entitled to Any of Those Assets?
No. Inheritances are considered “separate property” and are not subject to “equitable distribution” in a Georgia divorce. The first step in the Georgia property division process is determining which assets are “marital property” and which ones are “separate property.” Equitable distribution only applies to property acquired during the marriage. Property that each spouse brought into the marriage or which one spouse obtained during the marriage by gift or inheritance is “separate property” and will not be reallocated, divided and distributed between the parties. However, it should be noted that an inheritance can still be “attached” for other purposes related to the divorce; therefore, you are encouraged to speak with your family law attorney about the specifics of your situation.
I’m Approaching Retirement Age and Getting Divorced. Am I Entitled to Any of My Spouse’s Social Security Benefits?
It depends. While you should consult with an experienced Alpharetta family law attorney about your particular situation, your entitlement to your spouse’s Social Security benefits will depend on age, the length of your marriage and your respective work histories:
- If you are 62 or older, were married for 10 or more years, are currently unmarried and not entitled to receive a higher benefit based on your own work, you can receive Social Security benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings, even if he or she has since remarried. This will not reduce your ex’s benefits.
- Spouses who were married 10 years or more can also collect survivor benefits when their former spouse dies.
- If you both worked, the spouse earning less may receive benefits based on the higher earner’s income. If you never worked, you can collect benefits on your former spouse’s work, and your ex will still be eligible to collect what he or she has earned over the years.
- If your ex-spouse qualifies for benefits but has yet to apply for them, you can still get benefits if you have been divorced for two years.
- As with your own Social Security benefits, the longer you wait to collect divorced spousal benefits, the higher your benefits will be.
My Ex, Child and I All Live in Alpharetta, but I Just Got a New, Better-Paying Job in Savannah. Can I Move There With My Child?
In Georgia, a custodial parent who wishes to relocate with their children must provide written notice to the non-custodial parent at least 30 days before the proposed moving date. If the non-custodial parent is okay with the move, things should go smoothly. As with any modifications to child support or visitation arrangements, court approval is required and will usually be granted in cases where the parents are in agreement and there are no independent factors that would weigh against permitting the move.
My Ex Has Developed a Substance Abuse Problem and Is Often Violent Such That I Fear For My Child’s Safety. What Can I Do?
All family issues involving children in Georgia revolve around one question: what is in the child’s best interests? Sometimes a child’s best interests, health and safety are put at risk because of a parent’s behavior or circumstances. Georgia law provides tools that parents can use to protect their child – and themselves – from the other parent’s abusive or neglectful conduct.
When a spouse or parent engages in domestic violence – including threats, stalking, harassment, verbal abuse or physical violence – we can help those at risk obtain orders of protection. These are court orders that prohibit an abusive spouse or parent from having any contact with the ex or child, as well as limit interactions with others such as employers or other family members.
If a parent has abandoned and/or neglected their parental responsibilities regularly, repeatedly and completely, the other parent can move to have their parental rights terminated. While courts will tread very carefully before ending a parent’s legal rights to be involved in a child’s life, they will not hesitate to do so to protect a child’s life and well-being. If you are concerned about your child’s safety, turn to a family lawyer in Alpharetta as soon as possible to discuss your rights and legal options.
I Signed a Prenuptial Agreement, but Now I’m Getting Divorced. I Think It’s Unfair and I Want to Get Out of It. Can You Help Me?
Maybe. Prenuptial agreements are contracts in which soon-to-be-spouses agree on how to resolve property division, spousal support, financial obligations and other issues in the event the marriage ends. These agreements are generally enforceable in Alpharetta and elsewhere in Georgia unless certain circumstances are present that render it void. These include a spouse being forced to sign the agreement under duress or being misled as to their spouse’s financial condition and assets at the time of signing. If the agreement is so skewed as to render it “unconscionable,” it may be possible to set it aside. But “unconscionable” is a much higher bar than simply “unfair.” Buyer’s remorse or complaints that a prenup is prejudicial to a spouse likely won’t be enough to get out of it.
Obtain Clarity and Compassion for Your Family Law Matters – Contact an Alpharetta Family Law Attorney Now
At North Metro Litigators, we treat every family law client not as a file, but as a person. You’ll feel that from the moment you call us for your free initial consultation. When you retain our family lawyers, your challenges and goals become ours and we do not rest until you can sleep peacefully knowing that everything is going to be okay.