Frequently Asked Questions



Alimony is the financial maintenance that a family court may order when a couple separates or divorces. The purpose is to avoid any unfair economic consequences of a divorce, even after property is divided and child support, if any, is awarded.

Courts may grant temporary alimony for the purpose of maintaining one spouse’s standard of living during the pendency of a divorce case. The factors in determining whether temporary alimony is granted are much different than the factors considered in determining permanent alimony. The merits of the case are not at issue when determining temporary alimony, as they are in considering longer-term maintenance.

Permanent alimony is very different, it is an allowance out of one person’s estate for the maintenance of the other spouse. Alimony is based on several factors, including the needs of the person asking for alimony, the ability of the other spouse to pay alimony, the lifestyle the couple had during the marriage, and the relative education, age, health, and work experience of the parties. There are no guidelines or set amounts for alimony; rather the judge looks at several factors in deciding whether to award alimony and if so, in what amount.

Alimony can be modified or eliminated as the former spouses' needs change, if those needs are the result of decisions they made as a married unit. Awards and increases in alimony are meant to address only needs that are caused by the divorce itself, not unrelated needs

Child Support

This type of support consists of funds ordered by the court for one parent to pay to the other to assist in the cost of raising their shared children. Support is, most often, determined by a standardized income table and factors in the number of children, incomes of both parents, and the custody arrangement.

These guidelines used in Georgia help to determine the amount of child support to be awarded. Georgia’s current child support laws are based on an income-shares model. This means that both parents’ incomes are considered, and separate child support obligations are determined for each parent, taking into account such factors as the cost of health insurance for the children, work-related child care, extraordinary educational and health care expenses, and extracurricular activities.

Child Custody

Custody can be a major issue in divorce cases. It is the care, control, and maintenance of a child, which a court may award to one of the parents following a Divorce or separation proceeding.

The standard for determining custody is a “best interest of the child” standard. In order to determine what is in the best interest of the child, the judge will often look at which parent is the most significant day-to-day care provider for the child. However, there are many other factors a judge will look at in determining custody. A judge, never a jury, always makes the custody decision (a jury can decide issues of child support, alimony, property, and debt division). When custody must be spelled out because of a couple's divorce, the custody arrangement usually becomes part of the divorce decree.

Forms of Custody in Georgia

Physical custody means that a parent has the right to have a child live with him or her

Legal custody allows that parent to make long-term decisions about the child’s upbringing and well-being, including the child’s health, education, religious training, and general welfare.

Joint Custody is the split time spent between the two parents’ living quarters.

Sole Custody is an arrangement whereby only one parent has either sole legal custody or sole physical custody of a child; often awarded in cases where the other parent is deemed unfit.

Unmarried Parents and Child Custody Decisions

When the parents are unmarried, the statutes of most states require that the mother be awarded sole physical custody unless the father takes legal action to be awarded custody. Often an unwed father doesn’t win custody over a mother who is a good parent, but he can seek form of custody and visitation rights.

If unmarried parents do not reach a child custody and visitation agreement out-of-court, the matter will go before a family court judge for resolution.

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Personal injury lawsuits typically cover three key problems that can appear following an incident:

Actual bodily harm

This is the actual damage or injury to the body and the injured is expected to be compensated.

Compensation would cover existing medical bills, and it should also cover anticipated future medical expenses. This includes additional surgeries, home care, physical therapy and anything else that might help the injured party try to return to some semblance of a normal existence.

Pain and suffering

Someone pursuing a claim should also be able to document the activities they previously enjoyed that they can no longer participate in and how they currently feel on a daily basis.

Emotional distress

Seen as negligently or intentionally inflicted. This covers a wide range of injuries ranging from defamation to threats of physical harm.


What is a Green Card?

A Green Card is an identification card indicating the holder’s status to live and work in the USA permanently. The official name of the US Green Card is “Lawful Permanent Resident Card” and is also known as the Form I-551. Green Card holders are known as Permanent Residents and can emigrate to the USA and stay for as long as they like. U.S. Green Card holders are not automatically American citizens, but they have, however, the possibility to become American citizens after living in the USA for five years.

How do I obtain Citizenship?

The most common path to U.S. citizenship is a green card holder (permanent resident) of at least 5 years applying for naturalization. If you are a green card holder you must also meet the following requirements in order to apply for naturalization:

  • Be 18 or older at the time of filing
  • Be a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
  • Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application. Students may apply for naturalization either where they go to school or where their family lives (if they are still financially dependent on their parents).
  • Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
  • Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
  • Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
  • Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
  • Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law

Other paths include:

  • Green card holders married to U.S. citizens
  • Green card holders in the military and their family
  • Citizenship through parents

What is a Visas Form?

A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States generally must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport, a travel document issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship. Certain international travelers may be eligible to travel to the United States without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel. Having a U.S. visa allows you to travel to a port of entry, airport or land border crossing, and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector to enter the United States. While having a visa does not guarantee entry to the United States, it does indicate a consular officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad has determined you are eligible to seek entry for that specific purpose.

While there are about 185 different types of visas, there are two main categories of U.S. visas.

  • Nonimmigrant visa - for temporary visits such as for tourism, business, work, visiting family, or studying.
  • Immigrant visa - for people to immigrate to the United States.

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How do I know which chapter is best for me?

There are criteria to file bankruptcy for each Chapter. The determining factors are your income and your specific situation. If you are wanting to keep property that is jeopardy of being seized (car, home) and you have monthly income, you will want to file a Chapter 13 to restructure payments to those creditors. If you are financially strapped and cannot repay your debts, a Chapter 7 will help you eliminate the debt; however, those secured debts (car/mortgage loans) must be current in order to keep them.

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