Benton Law, llc specializes in the practice of family law. This firm is committed to delivering the best results possible for its clients. We do this by listening to your needs and formulating a strategic plan to achieve your goals whether that be to protect your assets, address the needs of your children and family, and/or protection of your business interests. We have skilled mediation and negotiation skills to help you resolve your issues. However, we are prepared to aggressively litigate your case in a courtroom when mediation is no longer an option to resolve your case.
Georgia is an equitable division property state. The factors considered in dividing marital property include the contributions each party made to the marriage and the customs of the parties with respect to their incomes. The Benton Law, llc is experienced in handling complex and high asset cases. Alice Benton is experienced in working with clients who have family-owned businesses.
Because there is no formula for calculation of alimony, a client needs experienced counsel to pursue an appropriate award of alimony. Benton Law, llc is experienced in handling and negotiating alimony settlements.
Georgia law requires both the mother and father to responsible for their children's financial support. Factors considered are each party's income and/ or ability to earn income and the expenses parents pay on behalf of their children (health insurance, extracurricular activities, educational expenses, and child care expenses).
Benton Law, llc will advocate for the appropriate child support award for your children.
The standard in the State of Georgia for determining custody is the best interest of the child. This standard gives a judge broad discretion in determining which parent receives physical custody of the children, the appropriate parenting time/visitation for each parent, and what role each parent will have in making important decisions about their child's health, education, extracurriculars, and religious training.
Benton Law, llc will help you resolve your custody issues through sound advice and with the goal of striving to do what is in the best interests of your children.While negotiation and mediation are the preferred methods of allowing parties to reach an agreement on custody, we are prepared to handle custody litigation before a judge when the parties cannot come to a resolution.
GUARDIAN AD LITEM
Many judges rely on the investigation and recommendation of an objective third party, called a Guardian ad Litem, to draft parenting plans and make recommendations to the court about custody, visitation, and decision-making on behalf of the child. A Guardian Ad Litem meets with the parties and the children, interviews third parties who have knowledge of each party's parenting style, and make a proposal to the Court about custody and visitation for the parties' children.
Benton Law, llc has experience working with clients in custody cases that require a Guardian ad Litem.
Alice Benton also serves as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for AVLF.
PATERNITY AND LEGITIMATION
Legitimation cases are filed so that a father may have visitation, obtain custody of the child, and possibly specify the child's name as the father's name. In Georgia, prior to the legitimation of a child born out of wedlock, the mother is entitled to sole custody and complete parental power over the child.
Paternity cases are filed by a mother of a child born out of wedlock so that she may obtain child support from the father. This is done via a paternity suit. If the alleged father is the biological father of the child, the Court may issue an Order designating him as the father of the child, and create a child support obligation.
When one or both parties fail to comply with a judge's order requiring payment of child support, and/or alimony, or fails to comply with custody or visitation, then the injured party may file a contempt action. If the Court finds a party in contempt, that party can be ordered not only to cooperate going forward, but also to be incarcerated and/or to pay the other party's attorneys fees.
MODIFICATION OF CUSTODY AND SUPPORT
A party may modify an existing custody and/or support order. Alimony and child support may be modified up or down, provided there has been a substantial change in the financial status or income of either party.
Using the best interest of the child standard, custody may be modified if there has been a material change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the child. Visitation may also be modified if it is determined that a change is in the best interest of the child whether or not there has been a material change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the child. Before pursuing a modification action, Benton Law, llc can advise you on whether your prior order can or should be modified.
FAMILY VIOLENCE PROTECTIVE ORDERS (TPO)
Sometimes it is appropriate to pursue a court order to protect yourself and your family from family violence.
Upon the filing of a verified petition alleging that an act of family violence has occurred in the past and is likely to occur in the future, the Court is authorized to enter a Temporary Protective Order (TPO). A Temporary Protective Order can restrain the offending party from committing future acts of family violence or otherwise harassing or interfering with the petitioner, granting the petitioner exclusive use and possession of the family residence or requiring the offending party to provide alternate housing to the petitioner and children, awarding temporary custody to the petitioner, and awarding temporary financial support to the petitioner. If the Court finds that a family violence petition is supported by evidence, a temporary protective order is immediately entered and a hearing scheduled (usually within 10 days) to determine whether the protective order should be extended or modified.
Benton Law, llc has extensive experience pursuing family violence actions. Alice Benton is a former Cobb County prosecutor designated to specially prosecute family violence cases. Alice has extensive experience working with victims of family violence as well as training law enforcement officers and other prosecutors. Alice was also a Senior Assistant District Attorney in Fulton County, Georgia. Conversely, Alice can defend clients against petitions that lack merit and are brought for improper purposes.
MEDIATION, ARBITRATION, LATE CASE EVALUATION
Mediation. The parties and their attorneys attend a mediation session with an independent, neutral third party, typically also a family law attorney or a senior status judge, to discuss settlement. While agreements reached at mediation are generally binding, the mediator does not have the authority to make a binding decision on the issues raised in the litigation and further, cannot testify if the matter reaches trial. Parties often agree to participate in mediation to try and resolve their case prior to a trial and many courts now require the parties to participate in at least one mediation session prior to a final hearing.
Arbitration. Arbitration is binding upon the parties. The parties and their attorneys attend a confidential session with an independent, neutral third party who makes decisions regarding their case.
Late Case Evaluation. The parties and their attorneys attend a confidential session with an independent, neutral third party who is an experienced domestic relations attorney and/or judge, who is not assigned to their case. The late case evaluator hears the arguments of both parties and makes non- binding recommendations concerning settlement based on his or her experience.
PRENUPTIAL AND POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements are used to protect property that one or both parties owned prior to the marriage from becoming divided upon divorce, to protect gifts from family members and to protect personal interest in a business.
Prenuptial agreements can also be used to protect future inheritances of adult children in the event of remarriage later in life. When a prenuptial or a postnuptial agreement is in effect, parties can divorce quickly without costly legal battles. Benton Law, llc is experienced in preparing prenuptial and postnuptial agreements as well as litigating the validity of an agreement should it have been improperly drafted or executed by prior counsel.