Friday, July 31, 2009

Fault Grounds in a Georgia Divorce

Georgia law does not require that "fault grounds" be alleged or proven. Many parties get divorced in Georgia on the simple ground that the marriage is "irretrievably broken." But there are times when it might be advantageous for a party to a Georgia divorce to raise adultery, or another fault ground. For example, adultery by the other party may operate as a bar to alimony. So, it is important for you to discuss all the facts with your Georgia divorce lawyer to see if alleging a fault ground may be helpful to your case.

In Georgia, the fault grounds are set forth in O.C.G.A. section 19-5-3 and summarized here:
(1) Intermarriage by persons within the prohibited degrees of consanguity or affinity;
(2) Mental incapacity at the time of marriage;
(3) Impotency at the time of marriage;
(4) Force, menace, duress, or fraud in obtaining the marriage;
(5) Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband, at the time of the marriage, unknown to the husband;
(6) Adultery in either of the parties after marriage;
(7) Willful and continued desertion by either of the parties for the term of one year;
(8) The conviction of either party for an offense involving moral turpitude, under which he is sentenced to imprisonment in a penal institution for a term of two years or longer;
(9) Habitual intoxication;
(10) Cruel treatment, which shall consist of the willful infliction of pain, bodily or mental, upon the complaining party, such as reasonably justifies apprehension of danger to life, limb, or health;
(11) Incurable mental illness, (in some circumstances, as set forth in the divorce statute);
(12) Habitual drug addiction, which shall consist of addiction to any controlled substance (as defined in the statute); and
(13) The marriage is irretrievably broken.

Please consult with your own Georgia divorce attorney about these fault grounds and about any other questions you may have about obtaining a Georgia divorce.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Safe Homes for Battered Women

According to a recent F.B.I. report, approximately 26% of all female murder victims each year were killed by their husbands or boy friends. In addition, it is conservatively estimated that each year at least one million women suffer non-fatal injuries inflicted by their spouses or domestic partners. The problem of domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battered women, and child abuse and neglect cannot be ignored or denied.

Fortunately, in many communities, there are solutions to many of these problems. Of course, one important solution is to call your law enforcement agency to report and get help for domestic abuse. But we are also fortunate in the Augusta, Georgia area to have a wonderful charitable organization, Safe Homes of Augusta, (, to help such families in dire need. Safe Homes of Augusta offers a shelter and assistance to women and children of domestic violence. The charity serves families in ten counties surrounding Augusta, Georgia.

Again, the problem of domestic violence may be with us, but at least there are charities, such as Safe Homes of Augusta, [(706) 736-2499], which help combat it! (Please also know that there are also many other related, worthy organizations throughout the Augusta, Georgia area, such as Child Enrichment and Rape Crisis. Each of these fine organizations offers an opportunity for each of us to contribute and help victims of abuse in our communities. Please reach out, support, and consider volunteering to such charities in your own communities!)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Georgia's Child Support Guidelines

In the “good old days” in a Georgia divorce, (i.e. prior to 2007), child support was easier for a divorce lawyer to calculate, and generally was simply based upon a percentage of the noncustodial spouse’s income. And in those “good old days,” the parties in a Georgia divorce had greater flexibility, compared to today, about setting the amount of child support. But all that changed on January 1, 2007 with the passage of the Georgia child support guidelines, (see O.C.G.A. 19-6-15).

Georgia child support is now determined by your divorce attorney in accordance with the Georgia child support guidelines, based upon the gross income of both parties to a divorce. Parties in a Georgia divorce can no longer simply agree about an appropriate child support amount between themselves, unless the parties’ settlement agreement contains findings that a judge determines sufficiently support a deviation from the guidelines’ amount. In other words, in Georgia, the child support guidelines generally rule!

When calculating the child support guidelines, your Georgia divorce lawyer should initially determine each party’s gross income (and you should generally take into account income from just about any source, including your Georgia lottery winnings). If one of the spouses has previously had court-ordered child support for another child, then that spouse may be entitled to a deduction of that amount from his gross income amount.

Next, your divorce attorney will add each parent’s adjusted income figures together to compute the combined adjusted income. Then, your lawyer will locate the basic support obligation amount by referring to a child support obligation table. Next, you calculate the noncustodial spouse’s pro rata share of the basic child support obligation amount. You then make adjustments, in appropriate cases, based upon such things as whether there are health insurance costs (for the child), or whether there are work-related child care costs. In other words, as an example, if the custodial mother has to pay daycare costs, then the guidelines call for an adjustment which will require the noncustodial dad to pay his pro rata share of that daycare cost. Finally, the guidelines also allow some room for deviations from the presumptive guideline amount, in appropriate cases.

This is just a quick review of some of the types of issues which are generally considered in determining child support under Georgia’s new child support guidelines. Hopefully, the child support guidelines generally determine a fair child support amount which equitably takes into account both parties’ incomes. And hopefully, the guidelines will do a better job of ensuring that child support will actually be paid to Georgia’s children of divorce. Maybe the “good old days” when parties could more easily manipulate child support weren’t really so good after all.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Do You Need A Divorce Lawyer? (Did Tom Hanks Need A Dentist in "Cast Away?!")

So, you have already decided to get a Georgia divorce. Now, you are trying to decide whether or not you need a divorce attorney or whether you can "do it yourself." Do you really need a divorce lawyer in Georgia? Do you need a divorce attorney even in an uncontested divorce? The question is made more difficult by the availability of cheap, "do it yourself" kits and other information online. But if you ask me, or any divorce attorney at The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC, you will always be told, "yes," you should get a divorce lawyer to handle your divorce.

And it's not simply because that's how we at The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC earn our living! It's because your rights are important and you have too much at stake to risk your fate on one of those cheap, "do it yourself" divorce kits. Particularly if you have kids, or significant money, property or debt issues, (or other important issues), you should definitely retain a divorce attorney to make sure your important interests are protected. Also, as we just saw with a new divorce client today who had unsuccessfully tried to handle her own divorce alone, many of those divorce kits simply do not have all the information or forms to completely address all your needs in a Georgia divorce.

In addition, retaining a divorce attorney, especially in an uncontested divorce, is not necessarily that much more expensive than one of those "do it yourself" kits. Moreover, you should also consider the fact that some divorce law firms, including The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC, will discuss with you the possibility of a payment plan to make your divorce easier and more affordable.

So, the bottom line is: it's up to you! You can risk your fate and try to do it yourself, or you can call an experienced Georgia divorce attorney to help you through a difficult time. Sometimes there is no substitute for experienced, professional help. You wouldn't want to pull your own tooth, would you? And if you had asked Tom Hanks' character in the movie "Cast Away" if he needed a dentist or an ice skate, I suspect he would have quickly replied, "Get me a dentist!"

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Residency Requirements for a Georgia Divorce

Let's assume that you and your spouse have just moved to Georgia and you have just decided to get a divorce. Do you know the Georgia divorce law requirements concerning how long you must have been a Georgia resident before you can file for a divorce here?

Simply put, with some exceptions, Georgia has a six months residency requirement. In other words, Georgia law generally provides, (in O.C.G.A. 19-5-2), that you must be a bona fide resident of this state for six months before the filing of the divorce petition. However, as to soldiers, the residency rule is a little bit different, if you have lived on post. Georgia law generally provides that any person who has been a resident of any United States army post or military reservation within this state for one year next proceeding the filing of the divorce petition may bring the divorce action in any county adjacent to the post or military reservation. Finally, Georgia law generally provides that a nonresident of Georgia may file a divorce petition against a person who has been a resident of Georgia, (and of the county in which the action is brought), for a period of six months prior to the filing of the petition, provided that the divorce case must be filed in the county of residence of the Georgia defendant.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Uncontested Divorces v. Contested Divorces (Can You Afford to "Dump the Chump?")

Is it "cheaper to keep 'er?" Or can you afford to "dump the chump?" The cost of your divorce in Georgia will vary from one divorce law firm to another. Simply put, some divorce attorneys charge more than other divorce lawyers. And some divorce lawyers do, but others do not, allow payment plans. [Please feel free to call The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION at (706) 863-5281]. But another key factor in determining the cost of a Georgia divorce is whether the divorce will be "contested" or "uncontested."

If the divorce is "uncontested," then it means that the parties have, on their own, worked out or agreed to all the terms of the divorce, including child custody, division of marital property, and division of marital debt. And from my perspective, as an Augusta, Georgia divorce lawyer, I will want to know, when you call me, if the other party will promptly sign "all the documents," including a settlement agreement, an acknowledgement of service and waiver as to venue, and all the other documents, (which we will discuss in a later blog), if there are kids. In other words, only if both parties have agreed on everything and will readily sign ALL the uncontested divorce documents (that we will prepare for you) can the divorce truly be a fairly inexpensive, "uncontested" divorce. Presently, an uncontested divorce in Augusta, Martinez, or Evans, Georgia will generally cost anywhere from just $500.00 and up, plus court costs. (Be aware: Some law firms charge more than double this amount!) Again, you will need to check around for the most affordable, uncontested divorce.

But on the other hand, what if your "nasty" spouse won't cooperate about child custody or he contests any of the other issues? Then, you will have to have your divorce attorney meet with you and carefully prepare "contested" divorce documents. And that also entails getting a deputy to serve your spouse, and taking him, (i.e. your spouse, not the deputy!), to court! And since a contested divorce will require significantly more of the divorce attorney's time, then naturally, the contested divorce will cost a good bit more, perhaps at least several thousand dollars, to begin with, or more.

So, you, (and no one else), must decide whether it's "cheaper to keep 'er," or whether or not you should "dump the chump!" But if you to decide to divorce, it is important for you to consider the fact that the cost of your divorce will depend, in part, on whether it is "contested" or "uncontested."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Practical Tips For Selecting a Divorce Lawyer For Your Georgia Divorce

In this blog, we at The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC. ( want to not only provide you with some interesting information about Georgia law pertaining to divorces (and other family law topics), but also to give you some practical, useful information about divorces and other family law matters, too. For example, here are five helpful tips or ideas to consider when you need to find and select a divorce attorney:

1. Talk to Family and Friends: When looking for a lawyer, we first recommend that you start by asking family members and friends about divorce attorneys they know or have retained in the past. Even in this internet age with an overabundance of available information, there still is no substitute for a personal recommendation from someone you trust. And when you talk with your family members and friends, be sure to ask alot of questions about the attorney they have used or recommend: For example, ask about the attorney's experience in family law and whether or not the attorney gave them good, personal service. Also, ask about the attorney's fee schedule, (i.e. how much do they cost), and be sure to ask whether or not the attorney promptly returned their phone calls. Finally, ask questions to learn whether or not your family member or friend believed they got a good or fair result and whether or not they would use the attorney again.

2. Consult with (Bar) Referral Services: If you, your family members and friends don't know any attorneys, then you might consider contacting a lawyer referral service. Of course, if you are in a pre-paid lawyer referral service at work, then you may have to go this route. But your state or local bar association will also be a source of information about attorneys. In addition, if you have been a victim of abuse, most safe homes or shelters for battered women can also help you find a good, experienced divorce lawyer.

3. "Let Your Fingers Do the Walking....: Even though the trend in lawyer advertising is away from print media and toward the internet, you can still begin your divorce lawyer search by thumbing through the yellow pages of your telephone book. You will notice that there are attorneys who practice in a number of different areas of the law. Obviously, you want to focus on those attorneys who advertise in the area of family law matters. Many of these advertisements will also refer you to the law firms' websites. Go there and get even more information to help you decide whether or not the divorce law firm merits a telephone call for a consultation. And one more bit of advice: We at The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC. recommend that you consider contacting divorce attorneys, like us, who offer a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION! At our law firm, you can call and talk freely with a divorce attorney about your divorce problems by simply calling us at (706) 863-5281. But be careful! Not all divorce lawyers offer a free consultation. Please be sure to ask the receptionist before you make an appointment!

4. Find a Lawyer Over the Internet: Finding an attorney over the internet is becoming one of the most common ways that people make their lawyer selections. There are several ways to accomplish this. The most obvious way is to simply sit at your computer and type in the key words, such as "augusta, Georgia divorce lawyers," or "augusta divorce attorneys," in one of the search engines. Of course, if you do not refine your search terms by confining your search to "Augusta, Georgia," then you may also get a plethora of choices from Augusta, Maine! You can also search online by going to online referral services, such as This will give you a large number of lawyers and law firms to choose from. Then, you can refine your search by going to the websites of the various divorce lawyers that appeal to you. Again, we also advise you to check whether or not the attorneys offer a free initial consultation.

5. MEET THE LAWYER: And finally, no matter which method of finding a lawyer you utilize, we strongly urge you not to simply rely on what family or friends, or ads, or internet websites say. Instead, it is important that you meet with the prospective attorney, in person, to size them up, before you make your final decision! After all, when you select a divorce attorney to represent you, you should be satisfied that you have carefully found a lawyer who is not only an experienced divorce attorney, but also someone in whom you have complete confidence to handle the most important matters affecting your life and the lives of your precious children. If you need to talk with an Augusta, Martinez, or Evans, Georgia divorce lawyer, please feel free to call us for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION at (706) 863-5281.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

About "Divorce Lawyer in Augusta, Georgia:" A Blog by The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC. FOR A FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION, CALL (706) 863-5281

We are The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC., a father and son family law practice located at 4416 Columbia Road, Suite 100, in Martinez, Georgia. Our family of divorce attorneys include: Richard H. Goolsby, Sr. and Richard H. Goolsby, Jr. We enjoy helping people every day with their divorce cases, child custody cases, child support cases, contempt and modification actions, adoptions, and other family law cases in Augusta, Georgia, (Richmond County, Georgia), Martinez, Georgia, Evans, Georgia, Grovetown, Georgia, Harlem, Georgia, (Columbia County), and all areas and Georgia counties surrounding Augusta, Georgia.

We understand that your divorce or other family law matter may be very stressful for you. So, when you retain our divorce attorneys to handle your divorce or other family law matter, please know that we always try to be understanding and give you good, confidential and personal service in all your divorce and other family law cases. If you would like to discuss retaining us for your possible divorce case, child custody case, or other family law matter with us, then please feel free to call us for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION at (706) 863-5281.

In this blog, we at The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC. hope to not only give you some general, helpful information and issues to think about when considering your divorce or other family law matter, but also to provide some interesting articles and some practical tips about Georgia law concerning divorces, child custody cases, and other types of family law cases. Of course, the usual caveats and disclaimers will appear elsewhere on this blog, but please let us also forewarn you here that no one should ever rely on any opinions or other information about divorces or other legal matters appearing in this blog. In other words, no attorney-client (or any other) relationship is in any way established through this blog and it is important that you should always instead consult, in person, with your own Augusta, Georgia area attorney before making any decisions affecting your legal rights or conduct.