Adoption creates a permanent legal relationship between the adopting parents and the child, while undoing all legal relationships between the child and his or her biological parents. Once the adoption is finalized, the adopting family will have the same legal status as if the child were naturally born to them. The courts look to the best interest of the child when creating a new family unit. Because of this, the primary goal of any adoption is to promote a stable loving, permanent family for a minor child.
Depending on the parties, a divorce can be very painful and traumatic for some while others can work together to make the best of a bad situation. We represent spouses in both of these situations. Often a divorce may start out to be very contentious, but after time, money and emotions are spent, the parties gain an understanding that compromise is in everyone’s best interests. Whether a divorce is reached through negotiation, mediation or litigation, we stand by our clients every step of the way, protecting their rights and helping them start a new chapter in their lives.
These cases involve parents, whether they’re married, divorced or were never married. Those of us who are parents see our children as the most important people on the planet, and we will do anything to help our children grow and prosper. Often, both parents have strong opinions on what is needed to best care for a child, and often these opinions conflict.
Unless an agreement can be reached, the court makes custody decisions based on what is in the child’s best interest. Normally that means parents share legal custody (they both make important decisions concerning the child’s upbringing, including education and medical care) and one has primary physical custody (the child lives with one parent most of the time).
Both parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children. Under Georgia law, the amount of child support a parent pays is determined by a set of guidelines. The total income from both parents is added together to determine a “presumptive amount” of child support for the minor child. Each parent is responsible for their pro rata share of that support number based on the ratio of their income to the other parent’s income. The non-custodial parent is the one who pays their share directly to the custodial parent. Any child support paid for another child can be deducted from the obligated parent’s income. Child support can include paying the costs of day care, medical care, health insurance, education, and/or extra circular activities of the minor children.
In some circumstances grandparents ask a court for the right to visit with a grandchild. A petition may be filed to start a visitation or grandparents can join an existing divorce, custody, visitation or termination of parental rights case. When the parents of minor children are married to each other, the grandparents of those minor children are not able to file a petition for visitation.
To prevail, grandparents need to show the court by clear and convincing evidence that:
- The child’s health or welfare would be harmed if the child could not visit the grandparent, and
- Visitation is in the child’s best interests.
The court may find that the child would be harmed without such visitation if, prior to the legal action,
- The child lived with the grandparent for six or more months
- The grandparent financially supported the child by paying for basic needs for at least one year
- There was a pattern of regular visits between the child and grandparent
- Other circumstances show the child would likely have emotional or physical harm if visitation is not granted.
Couples going through a divorce or disputing child custody may also be having other serious problems, including domestic violence. We work to protect the rights of the victims of such violence. We also work to protect the legal rights of those accused of perpetrating domestic violence. Under Georgia law, an accused abuser can be ordered to cease any violence and stay away from the victim, and an order can be put in place concerning temporary child custody, financial support and other assistance for the victim.
When Alderman & Hutcherson represents a client in a family law case, we zealously defend their rights, protect their interest and the interest of their children. We pride ourselves on the professional, personal service we provide our family law clients. We strive to be available to address their concerns and answer questions. If you are involved in a family law issue and have questions, call our office so we can talk about what’s going on and how the law may apply in your situation. We want to help you choose your best options for moving forward. Call our Macon office (478-476-9110) for help with a family law problem anywhere in Georgia, or use our convenient online contact form to reach an experienced attorney who will stand beside you in difficult times.