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Putting Your Children First

Nothing matters more to divorcing parents than the well-being of their children. That is why child custody and support matters can quickly escalate and cause a great deal of contention and stress. At The Law Office of Catherine Verdery Ryan, she can clearly, calmly and knowledgeably provide you with the information you need to make decisions that are in the best interests of your children.

Whether you are seeking a joint custody arrangement or need help establishing or modifying child support, Ms. Ryan is an experienced Augusta, Georgia, divorce lawyer with the knowledge and resources you need to ensure your children, and your relationship with your children, are the highest priorities in your divorce.

Working Toward An Amicable Resolution

Ms. Ryan provides experienced legal guidance through an emotional time. She can help you negotiate a custody arrangement that works for all parties. If that is not possible, or the safety and health of your children are at stake, Ms. Ryan will fight aggressively to put them in the best position moving forward, whether that means you are looking to obtain sole custody, supervised visitation or some other arrangement. Her first preference is always the best interest of the children.

What To Expect In Georgia Child Custody Cases

The concepts below are helpful to know when anticipating what to expect in a custody dispute or during mediation. If you have questions regarding what to expect or about the legal concepts below, you can contact Ms. Ryan at 706-251-7612.

  • Physical and legal custody. The majority of parents who divorce or separate will have joint legal custody over minor children, with one party being designated the primary physical custodian. The primary physical custodian is the parent with whom the children live the majority of the time and will have final decision-making authority over issues regarding the children. The other parent will be awarded visitation rights. Disputes over who should be the primary custodian of the children are probably the most emotional, difficult and often costly parties to a divorce can encounter.
  • The best interests of the child. Georgia courts are required to evaluate a list of factors to decide what is in the best interest of the child in awarding primary custody. A court is gender neutral when evaluating custody and visitation issues. Whenever possible, the parties should work together toward a mutually agreeable custody and visitation schedule that is in the best interests of the children. When these attempts fail, a mediator can be used to assist in negotiation. Parties should always keep in mind how strongly a custody dispute affects the children.
  • Guardian ad litem. In cases where the parties cannot agree or various issues are involved, a judge may appoint what is known as a guardian ad litem to represent the children during the dispute. After investigating the parents, meeting with the children and potentially speaking to friends, family, and the children's schools, the guardian ad litem will give a recommendation to the court in regard to custody and visitation.
  • Other professional help. A custody evaluator may be necessary to do psychological testing on both parents. Counselors and therapists may also need to be involved for both the parties and the children. Ms. Ryan can help you in finding these experts if needed. Although the recommendations of these experts are taken into consideration by the courts, ultimately, the decision on custody is at the judge's complete discretion.

Child Support

Child support is different than alimony. Child support is intended for the sole benefit of children. To determine the amount, Georgia uses a Child Support Calculator. Generally, child support is based on the incomes of both parents and the number of children. However, if one party is not working or has voluntarily reduced their salary, additional income can be credited to that party. In most cases, health insurance premiums, health care costs, and work-related day care expenses are also part of the determination of the base amount of child support. Georgia law also provides for several adjustments that can be made to child support which are referred to as deviation factors.

At The Law Office of Catherine Verdery Ryan, she can assess all these factors and apply them to your situation. She will ensure your interests are upheld and that the child support awarded to you or to be paid is appropriate under the circumstances of your case.

Once ordered, child support can also be modified if there has been a significant change in the circumstances of one party.

Schedule Your Initial Consultation Today

Call experienced family law attorney Catherine Verdery Ryan today at 706-251-7612 or schedule your initial consultation online here. We provide individualized and caring representation to our clients, which begins as soon as you speak with us. We offer free initial phone consultations.