Divorce is a very prevalent area of family law. There are a number of civil cases. You also have modification actions, which are actions that involve secondary actions after an initial action has been filed such as modification of child support is going to change a previous order of child support, just like a modification of custody is going to change a previous order of custody. You have initial custody cases, sometimes the parents are married, sometimes they aren’t, and that’s why custody is not always simply a subpart of a divorce case.
There could be cases that are filed that involve custody only. There are cases establishing child support and enforcement of child support orders. There is adoption, contested and uncontested, there are cases involving grandparents’ rights trying to establish visitation with the grandchildren. Alimony is a type of case that can be ancillary to a divorce or sometimes people will file modifications of alimony cases for prior cases.
Contempt is a very busy area of family law. That’s when you file an action to enforce a previous court order where it’s alleged that somebody is not doing what a judge has ordered that person to do and the court has to decide if the person is willfully disobeying its court order, and if so, what to do about it.
Legitimation is another one. That’s when a child is born out of wedlock and a father is bringing an action to establish legal rights to a child. The converse of that is a paternity action brought by the mother to establish the legal identity of the father so that child support can be collected.
Protective orders are something that people don’t typically think of as being an area of family law, but it is because it’s civil in nature and it typically involves allegations of violence either between people that are married or some kind of partners or if they’ve resided in the same habitation.
Prenuptial agreement is another area. People want to establish rights to certain assets that are going to leave no doubt as to the disposition of those assets should there be a subsequent divorce. Those are the main areas of family law.
What Are The Typical Reasons That People Want A Divorce For?
I ask the person coming in what kind of divorce they want, because that really makes a difference as to the reasons behind the divorce. If they tell me it’s an uncontested divorce, which means that the husband and wife have an agreement on how to resolve all the issues of the marriage, then I don’t really worry too much about the whys and wherefores because that is irrelevant.
If they’ve reached an agreement on how to resolve custody and visitation and child support, decision of asset, debt allocation, alimony and attorney’s fees, then they’ve resolved all the main areas that they need to resolve in order to have an uncontested divorce.
If it’s contested, I do ask the reasons for the divorce because even though this is a No Fault state, you can still allege fault grounds when you are seeking a divorce. In Georgia, that can make it different if you are alleging fault or what we call conduct based allegations. Then, depending on what those are, the court, under Georgia law, can consider conduct and its role in causing the breakdown of the marriage.
What that means is if the court finds that one spouse engaged in a conduct that basically doomed the marriage, then the court can award more of the assets to the injured spouse or on the other hand, they can assign more of the debt to the spouse that caused the conduct.
Most of the time it’s just kind of a gradual falling away from each other. That’s probably the biggest reason. There’s rarely anything hateful or revenge-oriented, it’s just unfortunately going out with a whimper instead of a bang. Often the relationship has kind of dissolved and a lot of times at that point, they’ve often literally stayed together for their children.
That’s really the most common thing that we hear. Of course, other times we hear complaints about substance abuse, that’s very common, excessive drinking, drug use and things like that are obviously unacceptable to most people in a marriage.
Adultery can certainly be a big factor, of course sometimes both people are guilty of it and in some situations there’s been affairs and the person that was cheated on forgives the other party and then it winds up being repeated and at that point, the person says, “Well, the past is here, so I just got to go ahead and file for divorce.” Those are really the most common reasons for a divorce.
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