As an experienced Marietta, Georgia Family Law Attorney, Mr. Clerke offers premium, professional and personalized services in all areas Family Law. Mr. Clerke has extensive experience representing a diverse client base of mothers, fathers, husbands and wives. Through this widespread representation, Mr. Clerke has developed an understanding for the varied perspectives involved in Family Law and applies this knowledge to your unique situation.
While the issues surrounding many Family Law cases are complex, they do not need to be confrontational. Mr. Clerke understands that anyone faced with a divorce, child custody case or other Family Law issue is dealing with high emotions and uncertainty in their future. Mr. Clerke makes it his personal mission to protect your legal rights while minimizing unnecessary conflict and distress.
Mr. Clerke is available to represent clients throughout the state of Georgia, in addition to members of the military and clients living out of state or abroad. Mr. Clerke specializes in the following categories of Family Law.
- Child Support
- Property and Debt Division
- Prenuptial Agreements
- Jurisdictional Issues
- Spousal Support (Alimony)
- Divorce Mediation
If you are seeking representation from an experienced Marietta, Georgia Family Law Attorney Please contact W. Henry Clerke today at 770-612-0909, or complete the contact form provided on this site to schedule your free consultation.
Common Types of Family Law Cases
A divorce is one of the most stressful events any individual will face throughout their life. Mr. Clerke has a non-judgmental, yet aggressive approach when handling divorce cases for his clients. His primary goal is to enforce your legal rights and prevail in your representation, regardless of the circumstances initiating the divorce.
A court of law is the only entity that can grant a divorce decree, dissolution, legal separation, nullity or other form of terminating a marriage. In addition to the termination of the marital estate, the court also has jurisdiction to resolve residual issues relating to the existing marriage which include, but are not limited to: custody and visitation rights, division of property of the marital estate, spousal support, child support, restraining orders, etc.
Property and Debt Division
The area of property and debit division is one that can be complicated and it is imperative that you hire a competent attorney to assess your particular situation. With over 20 years of experience and an acute attention to detail, Mr. Clerke has the ability to analyze your individual case and ensure that you receive everything you are entitled to.
Any property acquired during a marriage, regardless of whose name it is under, is eligible to be divided. Martial property can include items such as: real estate (including a home bought in contemplation of marriage), pension plans, vehicles, bank accounts, income tax refunds and/or household furnishings. In contrast, property inherited by one spouse is not defined as marital property. The most common examples are a family business or an estate.
In circumstances where you are contractually bound with your ex-spouse on a debt, a creditor can seek the payment of that debt in full from your share of the martial property even if the divorce degree assigns the debt to your ex-spouse. Certain support obligations may be deemed non-dischargeable by a bankruptcy court or in state court depending on the terms of your divorce decree.
A prenuptial, or premarital agreement (often referred to as a “pre-nup”) is a written contract created by two individuals prior to their marriage. This agreement lays out all individually owned property such as: homes and businesses, family assets, stocks and bonds, savings accounts as well as debts, and specifies what will and will not remain individually owned property after the legalization of marriage. Prenuptial agreements also address whether spousal support will be paid in the event of a divorce, and the desired distribution of individually owned property upon death. Some states do not allow prenuptial agreements to modify or eliminate the right of a spouse to receive court-ordered alimony at divorce, although a prenuptial agreement can dictate degree of compensation. One important factor that cannot be stipulated in a prenuptial agreement is child support. A couple cannot lawfully agree in a prenuptial agreement that either party will in no way be obligated to pay child support.
Custody typically refers to a combination of physical custody and legal custody. It is the charge and control of a child and includes the right to make all major decisions encompassing education, religious upbringing, training, health and welfare. Multiple aspects influence the award of custody and the accurate presentation of your court case is among the biggest factors assessed. If you are awarded the child or children as a primary custodial parent, your are directly responsible for the impact on their well-being and development.
Child support is a periodic payment made to a custodial parent from a non-custodial parent to help compensate a child’s living expenses including: food, clothes shelter and any other related debts. The obligation to provide support for minor children cannot be waived by either parent and is a right of the child, not the parent. Every state has developed guidelines that determine the amount of child support a custodial parent is entitled to. These guidelines are derived from factors such as: the amount of time spent with the child, the income of both parents and the standard of living the child is to which the child is accustomed. The court may allow deductions to determine the final amount of child support owed in the event of catastrophic medical expenses or if travel expenses are required for visitation.
When one parent is awarded sole custody, the non-custodial parent is required to fulfill his or her child support obligation by making set payments. The custodial parent meets
his or her support obligation through the custody itself. In the instance when parents are awarded joint custody in a divorce, the support obligation is shared and calculated based on a ratio of each parents income and time spent with the child.
Child Custody Jurisdictional Issues: When a custodial parent wishes to relocate, the court requires that he or she give the other parent a pre-determined amount of notice prior to the potential move. This enables the non-custodial parent to address the court and request orders restraining the relocation of the child. Since the adoption of the UCCJA (Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act ) by all 50 states, family law courts are required to defer jurisdiction to the home state of the child. This alleviates the problems that existed prior to the UCCJA, when parents would relocate to jurisdictions that favored their situation, trying to gain leverage in a custody tug-of-war.
Spousal Support (Alimony)
Alimony is financial support paid from one separated spouse to the other. It can be either temporary or permanent and paid in one lump sum or in installments depending on the circumstances of the situation. It is designed to provide the lower-income spouse with money for living expenses over and above the money provided by child support. It is determined at the discretion of the judge, rather than state-sanctioned guidelines as is the case with child support.
Judges take into consideration multiple factors when making the determination whether or not to grant alimony. This differs from state to state, but typically includes: the parties’ relative ability to earn money both now and in the future, their respective age and health, the duration of the marriage, the type of property involved, and the conduct of the parties. Generally speaking, alimony is only awarded when one spouse has been economically dependent on the other for the majority of a lengthy marriage.
Adoption is the process in which a person or child becomes a legal member of a family different from their biological family. After the final order of adoption has been ruled by a court of law, the adoptive parents are granted the same rights and responsibilities as parents whose children are born to them. The adopted child gains the same rights as birth children in regard to inheritance, child support and other legal matters. In the majority of U.S. jurisdictions at the time the adoption is finalized, the adopted child’s name is legally changed to reflect the inclusion into the new family and the court orders the issuance of a new, amended birth certificate.
The philosophy of Divorce Mediation is to focus on solving problems, not fighting the fight. This alleviates the needles expense of litigation and circumvents distress placed on children of the separating couple. The process is voluntary, creating a non-threatening forum to allow the couple to build an agreement that is suitable for both parties’ financial and personal future. Each participant makes an honest attempt to accommodate the needs of the other, without sacrificing their own. The strength of this process is involving both parties to maximize their efforts, developing a collaborative solution in a cooperative manner, thus avoiding a trial.
Legally establishing paternity can have a significant impact on divorce settlements, property division, child custody, child support and the ability to relocate out of state. Paternity includes all matters related to proving the parentage of a child or children. In the case of married couples, paternity of a child is assumed to be the spouse, unless there is a court order or judgment stating otherwise. Regarding unwed parents, paternity can be established by signing an Affidavit of Parentage or by filing a paternity action with the court. Determinations of paternity can also have a crucial impact on interstate conflict between unwed parents.
If you or a loved one is involved in a divorce or child custody case, it is imperative that you seek expert assistance of an experienced Marietta, Georgia Family Law Attorney. Contact W. Henry Clerke today at 770-612-0909, or complete the contact form provided on this site to schedule your free consultation.