Family Law

Family Law

Caring for your best interests and striving for fair results.

  • Divorce (amicable and contested) – including complex asset division, premarital, separate and inherited property, alimony and same-sex divorce
  • Child Support
  • Child Custody, Visitation and Parenting Plans
  • Grandparents’ Rights
  • Adoptions – including Stepparent and Relative adoptions and termination of parental rights
  • Post-Divorce Modification, Contempt and Appeals
  • Legal Separation
  • Paternity and Legitimation
  • Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
  • Family Violence and Temporary Protective Orders
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution and Mediation
  • Name Change
  • Fraudulent Marriage Claims
  • Post-Divorce Estate Planning

We understand your family law matter can be emotionally difficult. A guiding hand, we professionally advise and represent you, always striving to achieve the best results in the most cost-effective manner.

Academic Publications:

Domestic Relations, Annual Survey of Georgia Law, 1979-1980, 32 Mercer Law Review 51 (1980).
Domestic Relations, Annual Survey of Georgia Law, 1980-1981, 33 Mercer Law Review 109 (1981).

Appellate Cases:

Child Support Guidelines: Successfully upheld the trial court’s decision refusing to award a reduction in child support based on parent’s request for parenting time deviation. This was one of the first cases decided under Georgia’s child support guidelines effective in 2007. Hamlin v. Ramey, 291 Ga. App. 222, 661 S.E.2d 593 (2008).

Property Division/Alimony: Successfully upheld the trial court’s decision in this divorce case concerning whether the other spouse had carried his burden of proving that certain properties were marital, as opposed to separate, properties. Further, there is no statutory requirement that the alimony recipient’s income be included in the final divorce decree, as is required for the child support recipient. Southerland v. Southerland, 278 Ga. 188, 598 S.E.2d 442 (2004).

Release: The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the client and against the client’s mother. After the client’s parents had remarried, they divorced. In the second divorce agreement, the client’s mother had released any claim that she had in the first divorce agreement against client’s father. Therefore, the mother was not entitled to any portion of the equity in the former marital home. Barnett v. Platz, 261 Ga. App. 51, 581 S.E.2d 682 (2003).

Alimony: Alimony could not be awarded in a modification action beyond the original divorce decree. Further, the trial court was unauthorized in modifying alimony based merely upon the passage of time. Howard v. Howard, 262 Ga. 144, 414 S.E.2d 203 (1992).

Visitation: Obtained reversal of the trial court for failing to specify visitation to a fit parent except as the custodial parent may agree in writing. This provision had the effect of denying any visitation except as the custodial parent may allow. Noteworthy is that the Supreme Court granted the non-custodial client permission to review the appeal after the Court of Appeals had denied the request to review. Chandler v. Chandler, 261 Ga. 598, 409 S.E.2d 203 (1991).

Contempt: In a child support contempt case for failure to pay educational expenses, the obligor spouse was entitled to a credit for child support paid, because the divorce decree did not specify that the obligor was to pay these expenses in addition to child support. Other issue was whether the obligor was entitled to a credit from a scholarship toward these expenses. Kehayes v. Petch, 197 Ga. App. 45, 397 S.E.2d 458 (1990).

Attorney’s Fees: Attorney’s fees can be awarded to the prevailing party in a modification of support case, even though the statute providing for such an award was not in effect at the time of the divorce. Crecelius v. Brooks, 258 Ga. 372, 369 S.E.2d 743 (1988).

Custody Standard: In a child custody contest between a parent and a third party, the trial court must find parental unfitness to authorize removing custody. The ability of a parent to raise his or her child may not be compared to the superior fitness of a third person (i.e., the “best interest of the child” test). Carvalho v. Lewis, 247 Ga. 94, 274 S.E.2d 471 (1981).

Alimony/Property Division/Modification of Support: Whether a periodic payment is alimony and subject to modification, or is a property division and not subject to modification, can depend on whether the gross amount is specified in the decree. As a result of this case, courts can modify a group award of support into an individual award if there is a change in financial condition. Nash v. Nash, 244 Ga. 749, 262 S.E.2d 64 (1979) (wrote brief while in law school).

DFCS: Joseph represented the Gwinnett County Department of Family and Children Services as Special Assistant Attorney General from 1982 to 2000 in the following appeals of termination of parental rights and deprivation cases: In the Interest of B. G., 242 Ga. App. 546, 530 S.E.2d 473 (2000). In the Interest of B. G., 238 Ga. App. 227, 518 S.E.2d 451 (1999). In the Interest of S. S., 232 Ga. App. 287, 501 S.E.2d 618 (1998). In the Interest of B. G., 225 Ga. App. 492, 484 S.E.2d 293 (1997). In the Interest of M. R., 213 Ga. App. 460, 444 S.E.2d 866 (1994). In the Interest of M.C.A.B., 207 Ga. App. 325, 427 S.E.2d 824 (1993). In the Interest of D. R. C., 198 Ga. App. 348, 401 S.E.2d 754 (1991). In Interest of E. R. D., 172 Ga. App. 590, 323 S.E.2d 723 (1984).

Affirmed without opinion: Wages v. Wages, 246 Ga. 317, 271 S.E.2d 635 (1980). Brown v. Higgins, 247 Ga. 64, 274 S.E.2d 324 (1981).

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