Cobb County's finest, fastest, most reasonably priced family law firm, serving Marietta, Cobb, Cherokee, Paulding, Douglas, Fulton, and surrounding area for more than 40 years with experience and expertise in cases involving issues of divorce, custody, alimony, property rights, settlement contracts, mediation, restraining orders, and uncontested matters.
Mr. Welch personally has served as a lawyer in family law cases in Cobb and area counties for many years. He has worked with most of our local lawyers, mediators, and judges, and he knows how to advise clients responsibly and help guide clients to their best and least costly resolutions. The staff will assist with preparing child support worksheets, financial affidavits, and discovery documents. Mr. Welch focuses on:
- Contested custody
- Property rights
- Restraining orders
- Child support
- Hearings & trials
Eric N. Welch, P.C. has a qualified professional team that helps clients through the often confusing legal maze and court systems in Cobb, Cherokee, Paulding, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett, and surrounding counties.
Custody usually is set by agreement of the parents. When they are unable to agree, they must go to a settlement meeting with a mediator. The mediator will discuss various possible custody arrangements which the parties might not have even considered. If they still are unable to agree, the custody issue will be submitted to the court. Each side should have its lawyer at the mediation.
There is no rule or law that the wife automatically gets custody.
In Marietta and surrounding Superior Courts, judges usually appoint a Guardian ad Litem to represent children if the parents are litigating custody. The Guardian, usually an attorney trained and experienced in custody matters, will interview the parents, friends, school teachers, doctors, relatives, DFCS workers and anyone who might have information about the parents or the children. The Guardian (GAL) then makes a report to the judge detailing the family life of the children and making a recommendation of what would be best for the children. The parents pay for the GAL, with the judge usually requiring that each parent initially pays to the court clerk $750 to $1,500 to begin the investigation and additional funds due when the GAL has completed the investigation. As a lawyer, Mr. Welch will confer regularly with the GAL and help present the client's position clearly.
The parties must prepare and submit a Parenting Plan detailing when each parent will have the children and specifying certain details of such parenting time. As your lawyer, Mr. Welch and his staff will assist you in this. This is made a part of a final order of divorce, although the judge might adjust it somewhat.
Property rights will be established in the divorce, either by agreement or by a decision of the judge or the jury. Everything acquired during the marriage including retirement funds - is subject to division. Exceptions include inherited property and insurance payments for injury, and even money from these sources could be up for grabs if the money or property is mixed with other marital money or property. Although there is no fixed rule that assets will be divided equally, judges and juries from Marietta, Cobb, Cherokee, Paulding, Douglas, and Fulton counties usually tend to make 50-50 splits unless there is a good reason for doing otherwise. In many families, the retirement package is the biggest asset of the marriage and often is the most difficult to divide.
A QDRO, or Qualified Domestic Relations Order, may be used for dividing future retirement payments. These orders vary from company to company, and the military uses slightly different forms with different rules. It would be foolish to do a QDRO without the assistance of a lawyer.
A restraining order might be issued by a judge if there is a reason to believe there is violence that might harm a spouse or children. If a party obtains a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that is served on the spouse, there will be a hearing just a few days later for the judge to determine if that order will remain in force. Such an order could restrict a party from the marital home and from going near or contacting the other party. It is important to be represented in this proceeding, and Mr. Welch is an experienced lawyer who routinely handles such matters in Marietta area courts. Testimony given in a TRO could be helpful in subsequent divorce proceedings, but a party must provide and pay for his or her own court reporter (or pay the official reporter) to obtain testimony that will be typed into a booklet and used later in court.
Child support is required when one parent has custody and the other parent resides in a different home. Georgia adopted Florida shared income approach to supporting children and now requires that each parent (custodial and non-custodial) state and prove income and expenses and assets. This is done initially on the Child Support Calculator (worksheet) found at www.csc.georgiacourts.gov/ and must be completed and submitted to the clerk; many Marietta area courts require that this worksheet is filed at the time of the filing of the divorce complaint, along with a financial affidavit and a parenting plan. Cobb judges want the Parenting Plan filed before any hearing, as it is helpful in determining how much support to award. Child Support from the Worksheet may be adjusted based on certain circumstances, found in exhibits with the CSC. Mr. Welch and his staff will assist clients in preparing these forms.
Alimony is allowed in Georgia, based on the circumstances but is not automatically granted. Sometimes the wife is awarded alimony, and sometimes the husband is awarded alimony. For example, in a long marriage in which the wife has been the sole income provider and the husband has been a house husband or disabled, it would not be unusual for the wife to be ordered to pay the husband alimony. Mr. Welch has been involved in such cases.
Although the conduct of the parties is not so important as it was years ago, adultery of a party which causes the separation or prevents rehabilitation would if proven in court make the offending spouse ineligible to get alimony in a contested case.
Agreements usually are made by the parties to avoid expensive and destructive court fights. Such documents must be carefully written to protect our clients and provide for future matters not occurring to most people. As a seasoned law firm, Eric N. Welch, P.C. has been drafting and negotiating such agreements in Marietta and area courts for many years and will help clients keep the agreements short enough to be understood but long enough to protect you and be effective.
Mediation is required in Marietta and area courts if there is no agreement resolving all the issues of the divorce. In the early days of the filing of a divorce, often within 60 days of the filing of an answer, the mediation office will send notices to the parties to select a mediator or one will be selected for them. Mr. Welch has been a licensed mediator and arbitrator for many years and as an attorney representing a client helps his client make the best decisions in mediation. Although this session is informal, it is a valuable tool to settle a case in a favorable way. People who think they are able to do this without a lawyer usually are disappointed when they are out-negotiated or when they omit some valuable considerations. Be smart: retain a good, qualified attorney to represent you in all phases of the family law case.
Discovery is the term for exchanging documents, asking and answering questions (interrogatories), and taking depositions (sworn testimony before a notary). Your handling of discovery could make or break a case. Poorly handling discovery (as in failing to disclose certain things) could result in the court's ordering you to pay the other spouse's attorney. Mr. Welch and his associates will guide you through this often confusing process.
A temporary hearing is a court hearing in which the judge hears testimony and rules on urgent matters to control the case until there is either a settlement or a final trial. This temporary hearing usually is set up by a rule nisi order, often served with the original divorce papers. At the temporary hearing, the judge could decide (1) which spouse will continue to reside in the marital home and which spouse will have to move out, (2) where the children will live, (3) time and place of visitation, (4) who pays what bills, (5) attorney fees, and (6) what property will remain in the home and what will be removed for the spouse ordered to move out, all on a temporary basis. This temporary basis often continues for many months and sets the tone for the case.
In Georgia, either party may demand a trial by jury, and the jury decides the financial and property issues. The judge decides custody disputes, usually relying heavily on recommendations of the GAL. The judges must rule on custody based on best interest of the child, and even though a child might choose to live with a particular parent, the judge might determine the child would be better with the non-chosen parent. Demanding custody when it is not realistic could be very costly. Mr. Welch is a trained and experienced lawyer and has provided representation in numerous cases involving custody disputes. A non-jury trial usually takes less than a day but could last several days. A jury trial might last all week and cost a considerable amount of money, with judges often ordering the unreasonable party to pay the attorney fees of the reasonable party.
Office hours are 8:30 to 5:30 weekdays, but special appointments could be scheduled after regular hours or weekends. Free telephone consultation is available. The firm accepts cash, checks, and most credit cards. Payment plans could be arranged.