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FAQ


 

 General


 Costs


 Family Law


 Mediation


 Criminal Defense

    Coming Soon.


Where are you located?

Our office is located at 2105 Barrett Park Drive Suite 106 Kennesaw Georgia. We are about a mile off of Barrett Parkway near Highway 41.


What types of cases do you accept?

Our office focuses on three areas of practice: Family Law, Mediation, and Criminal Defense.


Family Law includes Divorce, Custody, Child Support, Legitimation, Guardian Ad Litem Representation, Separate Maintenance, Nuptial Agreements, Same-Sex Separation, and Contempt Actions.

 

Our Mediation services include Divorce Mediation, Pre-Divorce Mediation, Mediate to Stay Married, Non-Divorce Civil Mediation, Private Mediation, Conflict Prevention Consulting and limited Criminal/Warrant Application Mediation.


Criminal Defense includes traffic citations, DUI and other misdemeanors, and felony legal representation.


I don't live in Kennesaw. Can you still help me?

Yes. We accept cases from throughout the Metro-Atlanta area and beyond.


I don't live in Georgia. Can you still help me?

Generally no. We are only licensed to practice law in the state of Georgia and in most situations you must be a resident of Georgia to file a case here. However, there are exceptions so please contact us so we can discuss your situation in more detail.


How much is your initial consultation?

A one hour consultation is normally $200.00. However, we are currently offering a NO COST initial consultation special. Please contact us to learn more.


How much do you charge for legal representation?

We charge $200.00 per hour for legal representation. For some services, such as Uncontested Divorce, Pre-Divorce Mediation, Mediate to Stay Married, and misdemeanor defense we offer flat fee packages. The costs of flat fee packages vary depending on the service so please contact us to learn more.


How much is your retainer?

This again varies depending on the service. Retainers are determined by estimating the initial costs of the specific service. For example, our typical retainer for a contested divorce is $3,000.00. This amount is calculated based on the typical amount of time and work involved in preparing and filing for divorce, responding to the other side, the discovery process, and our initial temporary hearing.


What is, and is not included in the retainer?

Expenses included in the retainer are:


  • Consultation time with you, the opposing attorney, and court officials;
  • Drafting pleadings, motions, and legal briefs;
  • Preparing and responding to discovery;
  • Preparing for and attending court hearings;
  • Preparing for and attending mediations and conferences;
  • Legal research;
  • Court fees;
  • Postage and copy costs.

Expenses not included in a retainer include costs associated with third parties such as mediators, guardian ad litems, private investigators and expert witnesses.


Is your retainer refundable?

Other than flat fee cases, the retainer is refundable. As work is done on your case, those expenses are billed against your retainer. If the case settles or otherwise resolved quickly, we will refund to you the remaining retainer money.


What happens when the retainer runs out?

We will bill you monthly for the costs incurred in your case. We mail our invoices on the first of each month and request payment by the end of that month.


Will you accept a payment plan?

Yes, we will consider payment plans on a case-by-case basis. We will work with you to develop a payment plan that fits within your budget so long as payments are made regularly, at the agreed upon amount, and on the agreed upon date.


Do I need a lawyer to file for divorce?

You are not required by the State of Georgia to have a lawyer to file for divorce. However, because of the complexity of statutes, common law, rules of evidence, and rules of procedure it is strongly encouraged.


How do I file for divorce in Georgia?

You will need to draft a Complaint for Divorce and file it, a Summons, a Verification, and other court forms in the Superior Court of the appropriate county. These documents must then be served on the other spouse by the Sheriff's Office or by a private process server. You will also have to pay the required filing fee and Sheriff's service fee. Please note that some counties may require that you file additional forms or affidavits with your Complaint for Divorce.


Do we have to live in separate houses to file for divorce?

No. You must live in a state of separation. This means you are not living as a married couple. This does not necessarily mean you must live at a different residence.


What county do I file my case in?

As a general rule, you file your case in the county where your spouse lives. For example, if you live in Henry County and your spouse lives in Cherokee County you will file your case in Cherokee County. However, like most areas of civil procedure this general rule has nuisances and exceptions so please contact us to learn more.


Do I have to go to court to get a divorce?

You do have to file an action for divorce with the court. Whether you have to physically appear in court depends on the nature of your case, local rules, and even the preferences of the individual judge.


How long does divorce take?

The length of time for a divorce varies greatly. It can be as short as three months or take years. Factors that can affect the length of time include the number of marital assets and debts, whether there is a family business or other complicated assets, whether custody is in dispute, and the behavior of either side.


What is an Uncontested Divorce?

An Uncontested Divorce is a divorce whether both spouses agree to the terms of the divorce including division of all assets, custody, visitation, and child support at the beginning of the divorce. All necessary documents, including a settlement agreement, are drafted, signed, and filed with the court at the beginning of the divorce. Uncontested Divorce avoids much the fighting associated with divorce. These cases also moves through the legal system much quicker and can save the spouses thousands of dollars in legal fees.


I was just served divorce papers. What do I do?

Consult a divorce or family law attorney as soon as you can. If you do not want to hire an attorney, then it will be your responsibility to respond appropriately to the divorce papers within 30 days. If discovery documents are included in the divorce papers then you will also need to respond to the discovery request and provide the requested documents within 45 days.


Can I get a legal separation in Georgia?

The closest Georgia has to a legal separation is called an Action for Separate Maintenance. It functions basically as a legal separation and in many ways resembles a divorce. It follows the same processes as divorce and can be used to provide much of the same structure as divorce, except that the spouses remain married.


Can I get an annulment in Georgia?

Yes, however Georgia strongly limits the circumstances where an annulment is allowed. Annulment is only allowed when the marriage is voidable by law.


How do I change my last name back to my maiden name?

If you are filing for divorce, you can include a request to change your name in the Complaint for Divorce and include it in the Final Divorce Decree. If there is no action for divorce or if you have already gotten your divorce, you will need to file a separate court action called a Petition for Name Change.


What is common law marriage?

Common law marriage is a status afforded to unmarried couples who lived together as husband and wife for a number of years and who represented themselves publically as married. Georgia does not recognize common law marriage except for those created before January 1, 1997. Please see O.C.G.A. 19-3-1.1


How is child support calculated in Georgia?

Georgia determines child support according the Georgia Child Support Guidelines found at O.C.G.A. 19-6-15. In short, the Court takes into account the income of both parents, determines what amount of this joint income is spent on the children, then prorates that amount to each parent. The non-custodial parent (the parent who is not the primary custodian) then pays the share allotted to him or her as child support.


How is custody determined in Georgia?

The judge has discretion to determine what is in the best interests of the children and award custody accordingly. The judge may consider "any relevant factors" including a number of factors listed in Georgia law. Please see O.C.G.A. 19-9-3 for the exact language and a listing of the factors. You can also visit our Child Custody section to learn more.


Does the mother always get primary custody?

No. Georgia law is very clear that "there shall be no prima-facie right to the custody of the child in the father or mother" and that "[t]here shall be no presumption in favor of any particular form of custody, legal or physical, nor in favor of either parent". See O.C.G.A. 19-9-3(a)(1).


Should I file a contempt action against my former spouse?

When your former spouse violates the court order, usually by refusing to pay support or not allowing visitation/parenting time, you may file a Petition for Contempt. Whether you should file the petition and when you should file depends on the specific facts of your situation. Please contact us so we can discuss your options.


What is mediation?

Mediation is a process where a neutral third party, called a mediator, helps both sides reach a negotiated conclusion to their dispute. It is an informal process that focuses on problem solving and cooperation rather than fighting.


What is the difference between arbitration and mediation?

An arbitrator essential acts as a judge. He or she will listen to both sides, examine evidence, then make a ruling or award in a case. A mediator does not make a decision for either side. A mediator works with both sides and helps the parties create their own resolution.


When should I consider mediation?

You should consider mediation when you are in conflict and want to pursue an option other than fighting. While mediation is commonly associated with lawsuits and divorce, mediation is available to anyone in nearly any situation.


Do I have to file for divorce to use mediation?

No. Many spouses are now voluntarily attending mediation before they file for divorce. Once their dispute is successfully mediated they then file an uncontested divorce. This saves time, energy, and thousands of dollars for everyone involved.


We also offer mediation services to spouses who are experiencing marital strife but who wish remain married. Spouses experiencing marital difficulties meet with an experienced mediator who works with them to identify points of contention, clarify interests, facilitate effective communication, and develop a mediated agreement that addresses each spouse's concerns


Is mediation mandatory?

Many judges now require mediation, especially in divorce cases. However, parties can opt out of mediation under special circumstances. Additionally, even though a judge may order the parties to attempt mediation, the mediation process itself is voluntary. The mediator will not force the parties to agree to anything or to enter into a settlement.


If my case settles at mediation what happens next?

The mediator writes a memorandum called a Mediated Agreement. This agreement includes all of the terms agreed upon. Both sides then sign the agreement. If the mediation is associated with an ongoing court action, such as a divorce, one side then drafts a formal settlement agreement and files it with the court.


What happens if my case does not settle at mediation?

Each side is left to continue negotiations on their own or to prepare for court.


Are all mediators lawyers?

Many mediators that work within the court system are lawyers. However, mediators do not have to be lawyers.


Are mediators licensed?

Georgia does not license mediators. Georgia has a mediator registration system for mediators who wish to work within the court system. To become registered, mediators must attend state approved training, observe a set number of mediations, and regularly attend continuing education classes. To mediate divorce or custody cases a mediator must attend additional training specific to family law.


How much does mediation cost?

We charge $200.00 per hour for mediation services. That amount is equally divided between both sides so each person only pays $100 per hour. We also offer several flat rate mediation packages for services such as Pre-Divorce Mediation and Mediate to Stay Married. Please contact us to learn more.


Criminal Defense

Coming Soon.