What is a boutique family law firm?
A boutique family law firm is a specialized law firm that focuses exclusively on family law matters. A boutique family law firm specializes in legal issues related to family relationships, marriage, divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, domestic violence, adoption, and other matters directly connected to family dynamics.
A boutique law firm is fundamentally more attentive to each client than a traditional law firm. Clients can expect frequent communication with their legal team.
At a boutique family law firm, clients can expect individual and customized strategies to address their unique needs and circumstances.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a valuable process for resolving disputes, including divorce and family law matters.
These are some key reasons to consider mediation:
1. Neutral Mediator: Mediation involves a neutral third party, the mediator, who facilitates communication and negotiation between the parties. The mediator does not have the authority to impose decisions but assists in finding common ground and reaching mutually agreeable solutions.
2. Empowerment: One of the significant benefits of mediation is that it empowers the parties involved, in this case, you and your spouse, to have control over the outcome. Rather than having a judge make decisions, you work together to reach an agreement that suits both of your needs and preferences.
3. Tailored Solutions: Mediation allows for individually tailored outcomes. This is especially important in family law cases, where each families dynamics and needs are unique. Mediated agreements can be more flexible and specific to your situation compared to court-imposed orders.
4. Time and Cost Savings: Mediation often saves time and money compared to litigation. Court processes can be lengthy and expensive, whereas mediation typically requires fewer sessions and can be more cost-effective.
5. Legal Counsel: While mediation can be conducted without attorneys, it is generally advisable to consult with legal counsel. An attorney can provide you with legal advice, ensure that your rights are protected, and help you understand the implications of the decisions you make during the mediation process.
6. Voluntary Participation: In many counties, the Court may require parties to attempt mediation before proceeding to trial. However, as you mentioned, mediation can also be initiated voluntarily by the parties before a lawsuit is filed or while the case is pending.
Mediation can be an effective and amicable way to resolve disputes and can lead to more satisfactory and sustainable outcomes for all parties involved. At Tannen Law Group, we will evaluate your case and determine if mediation is the best option for you.
How Is Child Custody Determined in Georgia?
In Georgia, child support is determined using the Georgia Child Support Guidelines, which provide a formula for calculating child support obligations. The guidelines consider various factors and income information from both parents to establish a fair and consistent child support amount. Here is an overview of how child support is determined in Georgia:
1. Income of Both Parents: The starting point for child support calculations in Georgia is the gross income of both parents. This includes all sources of income, such as salaries, wages, self-employment income, bonuses, and other financial resources.
2. Determining the Basic Child Support Obligation: The guidelines use a percentage of the noncustodial parents adjusted gross income to determine the basic child support obligation. The percentage depends on the number of children for whom support is being calculated.
3. Additional Expenses: In addition to the basic child support obligation, the guidelines take into account other expenses, including:
- Health Insurance Costs: The cost of health insurance premiums paid for the children is added to the child support obligation.
- Work-Related Childcare Costs: If either parent incurs child care expenses due to employment or education, those expenses are factored in.
- Extraordinary Expenses: The guidelines allow for the consideration of certain extraordinary expenses, such as special education or medical costs.
4. Shared Custody: If parents have joint physical custody (where the child spends a significant amount of time with both parents), the guidelines may be adjusted to reflect this shared custody arrangement
5.Income Deviation: In some cases, the court may consider deviations from the standard child support guidelines based on specific factors or circumstances, which could either increase or decrease the child support amount.
Its essential to provide complete and accurate financial information during the child support determination process. Additionally, if circumstances change, such as a change in income or custody arrangements, child support orders may be modified to reflect these changes. At Tannen Law Group, we will work closely with you to ensure that child support is calculated fairly and in accordance with state laws and guidelines.
How is Child Custody initially determined?
If you and your spouse agree to a custody plan, the court will usually accept the arrangement, believing parents know what is best for their children. If you do not agree, the initial determination is typically made by the court based on the best interests of the child
There are a few key points that the Court typically considers:
1. Best Interests of the Child Standard: Child custody decisions in most jurisdictions, including Georgia, are guided by the best interests of the child standard. This means that the court will consider what arrangement is in the childs best interests, taking into account various factors to make that determination.
2. Parental Agreement: If parents can come to a mutual agreement regarding custody, the court will generally accept the arrangement, assuming that parents are in the best position to know whats best for their child.
3. Factors Considered by the Court: When parents do not agree on custody, the court will consider various factors to determine the best interests of the child. These factors may
- The parents work schedules and travel requirements.
- The home environments and living conditions of both parents.
- The ability of each parent to provide for the childs physical and emotional needs.
- The emotional and physical capacities of both parents to care for the child.
- Any history of abuse, neglect, or other relevant concerns.
4. Custody Evaluator and Guardian Ad Litem: To gain a deeper understanding of family dynamics and make informed recommendations to the court, a custody evaluator or a guardian ad litem may be appointed. A custody evaluator is a trained professional who conducts assessments and provides expert opinions on custody arrangements. A guardian ad litem is an investigator who acts in the best interests of the child and makes recommendations to the court. These professionals play a valuable role in gathering information and providing insights into what arrangement is in the childs best interests.
5. No Presumption for Mother: Contrary to common misconceptions, there is no legal presumption that custody should be awarded to the mother. The courts primary concern is the best interests of the child, and custody decisions should not be based on gender bias.
Child custody disputes can indeed be complex and emotionally challenging, but the goal is to arrive at an arrangement that serves the childs best interests. Legal representation and the involvement of professionals like custody evaluators and guardian ad litems can help streamline the process and ensure that the court has a well-informed basis for making a custody recommendation. At Tannen Law Group, we will work with you, the guardian ad litem, and when possible, the opposing party and opposing counsel to not only minimize financial impact but also place you and your child in a situation where your relationship can flourish.
What is a guardian ad litem?
A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is a court-appointed advocate for a child or children involved in legal proceedings, often in cases related to child custody, divorce, neglect, abuse, or other family law matters. The primary role of a GAL is to represent the best interests of the child or children in the court proceedings. Here are key aspects of what a Guardian ad Litem does:
1. Investigation and Assessment: A Guardian ad Litem conducts a thorough investigation into the childs circumstances and the issues related to the case. This typically involves interviewing the child, parents, caregivers, and other relevant individuals. They may also review documents, such as school records, medical records, and other pertinent information.
2. Advocacy for the Childs Best Interests: The primary responsibility of a GAL is to advocate for the best interests of the child. This advocacy is based on the GALs assessment of what will be most beneficial for the childs well-being, safety, and overall development.
3. Recommendations to the Court: After conducting their investigation, the GAL prepares a report for the court. This report includes their findings and recommendations regarding child custody, visitation, and other related matters. The GALs recommendations carry significant weight with the court due to their role as an impartial advocate for the child.
4. Appearance in Court: The GAL may also appear in court to provide testimony and support their recommendations, particularly if there are disputes or disagreements among the parties involved.
5. Protection of the Childs Rights: A Guardian ad Litem is not an attorney for the child but serves as an independent advocate. They ensure that the child&s rights and interests are considered and protected throughout the legal process.
6. Mediation and Settlement: In some cases, the GAL may also assist in the mediation or settlement process, working with the parents to reach an agreement that is in the best interests of the child.
7. Objective and Neutral: A crucial aspect of a Guardian ad Litems role is their objectivity and neutrality. They are expected to provide an impartial assessment and advocate solely for the child&s welfare, free from biases or personal interests.
Guardians ad Litem play a vital role in helping the court make informed decisions in cases involving children. Their involvement can help ensure that the childs well-being remains the top priority and that the courts decisions are based on a comprehensive understanding of the childs needs and circumstances. At Tannen Law Group, we will work with our client to recommend an evaluator or guardian ad litem suited to address their specific needs and understand the complexities of their unique situation.
Can custody be modified?
Child custody can be modified, but it will only be modified once the Court first considers numerous key points:
1. Material Change in Circumstances: To seek a modification of child custody, you must show that there has been a significant and material change in circumstances that affect the welfare of the child or children involved in the case. This change is typically of a high standard, and not every change in circumstances will meet this threshold.
2. Best Interests of the Child: Even if a material change in circumstances is established, the court will then assess whether the proposed modifications are in the best interests of the child. The primary consideration in any child custody decision is the welfare and well-being of the child.
3. Post-Initial Custody Award Changes: It is important to note that the material change in circumstances must have arisen after the date of the initial custody award. Changes that occurred before the initial custody order may not be considered grounds for modification.
4. Factors for Consideration: Courts will consider various factors when determining whether a material change has occurred, including:
- Changes in the physical or emotional health of the parents or child.
- Relocation of a parent or other significant individuals.
- Changes in living conditions.
- Parental behavior or actions that impact the childs welfare.
- The childs age, needs, and preferences.
5. Fitness of the Parents: The continuing fitness of a parent is always a significant consideration. Improvements or declines in a parents fitness can be relevant when evaluating the best interests of the child.
6. Legal Assistance: Seeking a modification of child custody is a complex legal process. Its advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney to assess whether the circumstances justify a modification and to guide you through the legal proceedings.
It is essential to consult with a family law attorney in your area who can guide you through the process and help you understand the relevant laws and procedures that may or may not apply to a change in custody for your child(ren). It is important that the child’s best interests remain the focal point of any custody modification request. At Tannen Law Group, we will assist you in evaluating whether these key points for a change in custody have been met, what the child’s best interests are, and how to best pursue your desired custody alternatives.
What If My Former Spouse Doesn’t Follow Court Rulings?
When your former spouse does not follow court rulings, it can be a frustrating and challenging situation. Contempt of court actions are a means to enforce court orders and ensure that the terms of agreements and rulings are followed.
Here are the key points to understand:
1. Contempt of Court: Contempt of court is a legal action that can be taken when an individual willfully fails to comply with the terms of a court order, which can include settlement agreements, parenting plans, child support orders, or other court rulings.
2. Sanctions for Contempt: If your former spouse is found in contempt, the court can impose various sanctions, which can include:
- Income Deduction Order: This order allows for the automatic withholding of income to satisfy financial obligations such as child support.
- Payment of Legal Fees: In some cases, the court may order the non-compliant party to pay the legal fees incurred by the other party in pursuing the contempt action.
- License Suspension: The court may suspend the drivers license, professional licenses, or other licenses until the non-compliant party complies with the court order.
- Imprisonment: In extreme cases of willful and repeated non-compliance, the court may order imprisonment as a last resort.
3. Assessing Willfulness: Its essential to establish that the failure to perform was willful, meaning that your former spouse deliberately and intentionally did not comply with the court order. This distinction is important in contempt actions.
4. Gathering Evidence: Building a strong case for contempt involves collecting evidence to demonstrate that your former spouse is not following the court order. This can include documenting missed child support payments, custody violations, or other breaches of the court order.
5. Representation in Court: Seeking legal representation is highly advisable when pursuing a contempt action. An experienced family law attorney, like those at Tannen Law Group, can help you navigate the legal process, gather evidence, and represent your interests in court.
6. Alternative Dispute Resolution: In some cases, it may be beneficial to explore alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or negotiation, to address non-compliance issues before resorting to a contempt action.
It is important to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law to determine the best course of action. At Tannen Law Group, we will guide you through the legal process and present your case in court, if necessary.
Can I receive child support and/or alimony while my divorce is pending?
It is possible to receive child support and/or alimony while your divorce is pending. In such cases, temporary orders may be issued by the court to address these financial matters until the divorce is finalized. These temporary orders are designed to provide financial support to the lower-earning or financially dependent spouse and ensure the well-being of any children involved.
The specific process for obtaining temporary child support and alimony (sometimes referred to as temporary spousal support) may require you to file a request with the court. You may need to provide evidence of your financial need and the other spouses ability to pay. The court will consider factors such as each spouses income, living expenses, and the needs of any children.
It is essential to consult with a family law attorney in your area who can guide you through the process and help you understand the relevant laws and procedures that apply to your situation. At Tannen Law Group, we will assist you in seeking temporary financial support during the divorce proceedings to help you meet your financial needs. Because the availability and terms of temporary support orders can vary greatly, seeking legal advice specific to your circumstances is highly recommended.