Trusted Counsel
For More Than 30 Years

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, we 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 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

Catherine 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 is a skilled courtroom litigator who is prepared to fight aggressively. She will work to position you and your children for the best outcome, whether 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 A Georgia Child Custody Case

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 costly conflicts that divorcing parents 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.
  • Fathers may have limited rights. When a child is born out of wedlock in Georgia, the father does not have custody rights until paternity is established. A paternity action is also required before the mother can collect child support. If a married woman becomes pregnant from a man other than her husband, her husband is the “presumed father” and responsible for the care and support of the child.
  • 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 Law In Georgia

Child support is different from 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, Ms. Ryan 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.

Can Child Support Payments And Custody Arrangements Be Modified?

Child support payments and custody arrangements can be modified if there has been a significant change in circumstances. This includes things such as a change in the financial circumstances of either spouse, a change in jobs or the relocation of one of the spouses. Changes in the needs of the children may also be a factor. However, the court has the discretion to deny a request for a modification. Ms. Ryan can help you put together and submit a request for modification with the court.

Schedule Your Initial Consultation Today

Call experienced family law attorney Catherine Ryan today at 706-251-7612 or use our online form to request a consultation. We provide individualized and caring representation to our clients, which begins as soon as you speak with us.

We only practice in the state of Georgia.