PERSONAL INJURY

Q. Why do I need a lawyer to handle my injury claim?

A. When you are involved in a car wreck that is due to the negligence of another, you may be well served to attain the services of a lawyer. Even a minor accident with injuries can involve complex issues of insurance law, including but not limited to questions involving available insurance coverage, liability, and damages. A lawyer can assist you in evaluating the full value of your claim before an insurance company talks you into any kind of settlement. Insurance adjusters handling your claim are trained and skilled at minimizing the claims facing their employers the insurance company. No matter how nice and fair they seem they do not represent your best interests. A skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer will represent your best interests and can help you understand and develop the true nature of your injuries and value of your claims. If you enter into a settlement with an adjuster before knowing the true value of your claim you will probably not be able to collect additional compensation for your claim, even if your health changes and your injuries become worse. Utilizing the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer is always the best way to protect your rights and receive the maximum value compensation for your injuries.

Q. I was injured in an accident, but I am not sure about making a claim. If I make a claim with the insurance company, will I have to go to court?

A. Probably not. Most claims are settled out-of-court. Most likely, even if your case is filed, it will be settled without going to trial.

Q. The insurance company wants me to give a recorded statement, should I comply with its request.

A. Depending on which insurance company is requesting your statement, you may need to give a statement. If your insurance company is requesting a statement from you, you may be required, under your policy, to give a statement. If, however, the insurance company who is covering the negligent driver is requesting a statement from you then we generally recommend not giving such a statement. Once you give an unsuspecting statement to an adjuster, the insurance company is free to use that statement against you during the pendency of your case.

Q. The insurance company has sent me a release for my medical records, should I sign it?

A. The attorneys at Miller & Wynn generally advise against signing such releases because such releases are unlimited releases, thus allowing the Insurance company access to your medical records, which may be unrelated to the accident. Instead, we as your attorneys, will request your medical records that are pertinent to your case and prepare a comprehensive demand package presenting all appropriate records to the assigned adjuster or attorney.

Q. I was in an accident, I have some aches and pains, but I don’t think I am badly hurt. Should I consult a doctor?

A. Yes. Many accident victims only begin suffering from their injuries after the initial accident. What may seem as minor aches and pains often times indicate more serious injuries. You should consult a doctor to diagnose the true nature of your injuries. Failure to diagnose your injuries early in your case may substantially reduce the value of your case.

Q. Should I use my health insurance for my medical treatment?

A. Aside from your medical insurance, you may have other insurance available to cover medical treatment related to your accident. There are several factors of your case that can influence what type of insurance may be available to you. A Miller & Wynn lawyer will gather information related to your case and advise you how to maximize the value of your case by incorporating all the insurance available to you.

Q. The driver who hit me received a traffic citation. Should I attend the court hearing?

A. It is imperative that you attend any and all hearings related to your accident. If you have been told to show up for court or have received a subpoena for you to show in court, you should attend the hearing to ensure that the case against the negligent driver is not dismissed. Once our firm is engaged to represent you, often times a Miller & Wynn lawyer will attend the hearing with you the speak with the prosecutor and witnesses to gather evidence on your case.

Q. How long after my wreck do I have before I have to file a lawsuit?

A. It is imperative that you attend any and all hearings related to your accident. If you have been told to show up for court or have received a subpoena for you to show in court, you should attend the hearing to ensure that the case against the negligent driver is not dismissed. Once our firm is engaged to represent you, often times a Miller & Wynn lawyer will attend the hearing with you the speak

Generally, the statute of limitations in Georgia for personal injury cases is two years, however, depending on the facts of the case, other notices may need to be filed within months of the occurrence in order to preserve your claim. In addition to the time limitations related to your case, it is important to consult an attorney as soon as possible after the occurrence so that you do not miss any legal deadlines and that you may properly develop your case to maximize the value of your case.

Q. How long will my case take to resolve?

A. The amount of time that any one case takes to resolve depends on many factors. Issues such as whether a dispute exists as to who was at fault, the extent of your injuries, and the other defendant’s or the insurance companies motivation to resolve the matter without a trial, and the venue of where the case is actually filed are all factors that affect the resolution time of a case. Although the time of resolution of your case is an important factor, we at Miller & Wynn always concentrate on ensuring your complete recovery and developing your case to obtain to maximum compensation for your injuries.

Q. How much is my case worth?

A. Each case must be evaluated upon the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident and the injured party. To evaluate your claim the Lawyers at Miller& Wynn must investigate how the incident occurred to determine liability. Then we must further evaluate the injured party’s treatment and cost of treatment both past and future. Additionally, we must determine the amount of past a future lost wages that are associated with the case. Finally, there are many additional factors that may affect the value of the case such as prior injuries, prior claims, among many other factors.

Q. I slipped on something wet and slippery on the floor in a retail Store. Can I maintain a law suit against the Store for my injuries?

A. Generally, Georgia law provides that in “slip and fall” cases like this example, the store may be liable if employees knew or should have known about the danger and did not take steps to correct the danger or notify its customers. Obviously, these cases are dependent upon the specific facts of the individual case. For example, if the facts of your case are that the floor had a foreign substance just before the accident and the store employees had no time to clean it or post adequate warning signs, the store is likely not liable. However, there is evidence that the foreign substance was left on the floor by a cleaning service or employee or employees knew or should have known about it but did not do anything, you have may be able to maintain a case against the store. Because “slip and fall” cases are fact specific and pertinent facts are usually not determined until after suit is filed, you should contact an attorney immediately after a “slip and fall” or a “trip of fall.”

Q. I was in an accident and the insurance company adjuster for the for the other driver says that they cannot compensate me because the accident was partly my fault, is that true?

A. No. In Georgia, you can recover even if the accident was partially your fault. For instance, if your damages are $100,000 and the adjuster is saying that you are 30% at fault, your settlement amount will be reduced by 30%, or $30,000. So even if you are at fault, you can still recover $70,000. However, many times the adjuster will attribute some level of fault to an innocent party as a defense to their insured’s negligence. Recently, we have noticed this defense being utilized in situations where there is no indication that the accident victim has any fault in the accident. The issues of fault can turn on very specific issues of fact, therefore, you may want to speak with an attorney when the adjuster starts telling you that you are at fault, especially where the officer has not indicated such on the accident report.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

Q. What is Worker’s Compensation?

A. Under Georgia legislation, workers’ compensation law provides for specific benefits to be paid to employees for injuries arising out of and in the course of employment, without regard to negligence or fault, and at the same time, provides the employer with limited liability. In Georgia, employers obtain worker’s compensation coverage through private insurers or programs of self-insurance. The rights granted an employee under the law preclude any other legal remedies against an employer by an employee due to a work-related injury. The law is applicable to all employers, including public corporations and nonprofit organizations that have at least three full-time or part-time employees.

Q. I was injured on the job and am eligible for Workers’ Compensation according to law, why do I need a Work. Comp. attorney?

A. Unfortunately, the workers compensation system often does not work the way it is supposed to work. Here are some examples of how Georgia employers have tried to avoid providing benefits to their injured employees:

  • Your employer and your insurance company may challenge your claim by asserting that you got hurt elsewhere and not on the job.
  • Your employer and its insurance company may fight your claim that you are exaggerating or faking your injuries
  • Your employer and its insurance company may insist that you have recovered, when, in fact, you have not.
  • Your employer may fire you from your job after an injury and simply ignore your claim
  • Your employer and its insurance company may try to get you to accept a settlement of your case when all of your medical problems have not yet been addressed.

Q. I have a great relationship with my boss, why do I need a lawyer for my Worker’s Compensation claim?

A. Even if you have been a long time employee and are friendly with your employer you are likely to have a fight to receive all of your benefits. Once your claim is filed, your employer probably has very little to do with how the insurance company or its lawyer handles your file. Insurance claims adjusters are trained to save money for their employer. Sometimes these adjusters even receive a bonus for keeping their pay outs low.

Q. Can I get pain and suffering for being hurt at work?

A. If you were injured through the fault of another while at work you may be able to maintain both a civil personal injury case and a Workers’ Compensation case. With regard to a civil personal injury case, you may be entitled to general damages including “pain and suffering”. However, you would not be entitled to “pain and suffering” associated with your Worker’s Compensation claim. A Miller & Wynn lawyer can advise you as to the possible claims available to you and the benefits you may be entitled to.

Q. While at work I was injured in a car wreck that was my fault, I am eligible for workers’ compensation benefits?

A. It does not matter whether you were at fault, and as long as you are filling out your paperwork correctly and following the legal process, your employer cannot refuse to cover you. If you are being denied WC benefits then you should contact our office immediately.

Q. I was hurt at work and reported my injury to my supervisor. I was told to go back to work, but I can not do my duties because I am hurt. What should I do?

A. You must demand that your employer send you to a doctor. If they do not, you should go to a doctor listed on the Worker’s Compensation Notice Directory or got to your primary care physician or an emergency room depending on the seriousness of the injury. It is very important that you tell your supervisor that you need medical attention. Once you receive the medical attention you need contact our office so that we may ensure that you receive the benefits that you are entitled to.

Q. I was hurt at work and my doctor has told me not to go back to work for several weeks. How am I going to pay my medical bills while I am not working?

A. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be entitled to medical payments through Workers’ Compensation. A Miller & Wynn lawyer can review your case and help you receive all the benefits that are entitled to.

Q. I was hurt at work and my doctor has told me not to go back to work for several weeks. How am I going to survive while I am out of work recovering?

A. Depending on the facts of your case, you may also be entitled to money to compensate you for your lost wages. You may be entitled to two thirds of your average weekly wage up to $500.00. A Miller & Wynn lawyer can review your case and help ensure your employer’s insurance is paying you the wage benefits that you are entitled to.

TRAFFIC OFFENSES

Q. Why would I need a Miller & Wynn attorney for a traffic citation.

A. Many people choose to hire Miller & Hightower for traffic citations for several different reasons. Most of the time our clients’ reasons are financially motivated; many of our clients want to keep citations from “going on their record,” so their infraction will not have an adverse effect on their insurance. Often times individuals facing serious traffic offenses and those under the age of 21 retain our services because their driver’s license can be suspended for many seemingly minor traffic violations. Also Georgia’s new “Superspeeder” law has caused people with a heavy foot to begin contacting M&W in an effort to avoid the new extreme fines being sought from the DDS associated with speeding tickets. No matter the reason for the citation, M&W provides affordable representation to traffic offenders so that their rights, their drivers’ license, and their pocket book can be protected.

Q. Can I go to jail for a speeding ticket?

A. Yes. A speeding ticket and most traffic offenses by definition are misdemeanors, and as such generally speaking an offender can receive up to a $1000 fine and up to 12 months in jail. Now, while most jurisdictions will allow you to post a cash bond for most traffic offenses, some jurisdictions on some traffic offenses require you to appear in court. On must appear citations an offender can face jail time, probation, or other sentencing at the discretion of the presiding Judge. In fact, in one Jurisdiction, Douglas County State Court, Judge Dettmering’s policy is to sentence all offenders exceeding 100 mph to at least 24 hours in jail, in addition to fines, probation, community service and court costs.

Q. I am from out of town and received a traffic citation while passing through, I have a court date on my ticket, do I have to appear?

A. This depends on the charge and the jurisdiction. Many jurisdictions will allow you to post a bond that will be forfeited if you do not appear on your court date. You can find out the local Court’s policy by calling the number on the ticket. Some courts will even let you take care of your ticket on line. If, however, you have a citation that requires you to appear in court you will not be able to avoid appearing in court unless you retain an attorney. Often times, when we are retained quickly after our client’s receive a citation, we can coordinate with the court to allow an attorney to appear on your behalf, saving you from having to come back from out of town to handle your citation. Ultimately, for our out of town clients who have a citation, we attempt to resolve the case by entering a Plea in Abstentia. This often times saves our clients hundreds or thousands of dollars in travels expenses and ensures that our clients’ rights are protected, saving our clients even more on heightened insurance rates.

Q. How often can I plea Nolo Contendere?

A. The Department of Driver Services (“DDS”) will accept one (1) plea of nolo contendere for a moving violation in any five year period without assigning points to your driving record.

Q. How many points will I get if I am convicted of reckless driving?

A. Unless you are able to work out a resolution other than a conviction, a reckless driving charge will put 4 points on your license.

Q. How many points will I get for speeding?

A. The answer to this question depends on how fast you were going: 1) over 14 mph but less than 19 mph over the speed limit = 2 points; 2) over 19 mph but less than 24 mph over the speed limit = 3 points; 3) over 24 mph but less than 34 mph over the speed limit = 4 points.

Q. How can I get points taken off my driving record?

A. You can attend a driving school. According to O.C.G.A. § 40-5-86:

“Upon the accumulation of points pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 40-5-57, the total number of points accumulated by any driver shall be reduced by seven points, but to not less than seven points, upon the satisfactory completion by such driver of an approved defensive driving course and the submission of a certificate by such driver to the department. The provisions of this Code section shall be available one time only to each driver in any five-year period.

DUI DEFENSE

Q. What should I do if I am pulled over for DUI?

A. The answer to this question is different depending on your age.

If you are over 21 years of age and this is your first DUI, or if this is your first DUI within the past 10 years:

  1. First, be courteous and cooperative with the investigating law enforcement officer. Do not be rude, even when refusing certain tests.
  2. Do NOT submit to any field sobriety test (ex: 1. Walk-n-Turn; 2. One-Leg Stand; 3. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus; 4. Reciting the alphabet; 5. Counting backwards; etc…). Field sobriety tests are not mandatory, and you will not suffer any type of mandatory license suspension for refusing to perform them. Officers use these tests to help build their case against you.
  3. Do not submit to any hand-held or portable alcosensor device. This devise is commonly referred to as the portable breath test machine.
  4. Keep your conversation with the Officer short and brief.
  5. If asked, have you been drinking, refrain from incriminating yourself. You do not have to answer this question.
  6. Submit to the chemical test requested by the investigating officer. If you refuse to take the requested chemical test, your license could be suspended for 12 months without a work permit. However, if you choose to submit to the state administered chemical test – ALWAYS – request for an independent test of your blood, breath, or urine.

If you are over 21 years of age and you have been convicted of one or more DUI’s within the past 10 years:

  1. First and foremost, be polite, courteous, and cooperative with the investigating officer. Do not be rude, even when refusing certain tests.
  2. Do NOT submit to any field sobriety test (ex: 1. Walk-n-Turn; 2. One-Leg Stand; 3. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus; 4. Reciting the alphabet; 5. Counting backwards; etc…). Field sobriety tests are not mandatory, and you will not suffer any type of mandatory license suspension for refusing to perform them.
  3. Do not submit to any hand-held or portable alcosensor device.
  4. Keep your conversation with the investigating officer short and brief.
  5. If asked, have you been drinking, refrain from incriminating yourself. You do not have to answer this question.
  6. Do not submit to the State’s requested chemical test, unless you are absolutely positive that you will pass. However, if you choose to submit to the state administered chemical test – ALWAYS – request for an independent test of your blood, breath, or urine.

If you are under 21 years of age:

  1. First and foremost, be polite, courteous, and cooperative with the investigating officer. Do not be rude, even when refusing certain tests.
  2. Do NOT submit to any field sobriety test (ex: 1. Walk-n-Turn; 2. One-Leg Stand; 3. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus; 4. Reciting the alphabet; 5. Counting backwards; etc…). Field sobriety tests are not mandatory, and you will not suffer any type of mandatory license suspension for refusing to perform them.
  3. Do not submit to any hand-held or portable alcosensor device.
  4. Keep your conversation with the investigating officer short and brief.
  5. If asked, have you been drinking, refrain from incriminating yourself. You do not have to answer this question.
  6. Do not submit to the State’s requested chemical test, unless you are positive you will pass it (Note: If you are under 21 years of age and your blood alcohol concentration is 0.02 grams or more you are in violation of Georgia’s DUI laws. One beer or even the recent use of mouthwash could put you over 0.02.). However, if you choose to submit to the state administered chemical test – ALWAYS – request for an independent test of your blood, breath, or urine.

Q. What are the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests?

A. the terms Standardized Field Sobriety Tests refer to a battery of divided attention tests that have been studied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and if performed properly have been found to show whether an individual is impaired. The following are the NHTSA approved Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and related information:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: (HGN) refers to an involuntary jerking occurring as the eyes gaze toward the side. In addition to being involuntary the person experiencing the nystagmus is unaware that the jerking is happening. When administering the HGN test, the officer has the suspect follow the motion of a small stimulus with the eyes only.

What is the investigating officer looking for when conducting an HGN test?

  1. The lack of smooth pursuit. The eyes can be observed to jerk or bounce as they follow a smoothly moving stimulus.
  2. Distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation. Distinct and sustained nystagmus will be evident when the eye is held at maximum deviation.
  3. Onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees. The point at which the eye is first seen jerking.

Walk-and-Turn: The Walk-and-Turn test is a divided attention test.

What is the investigating officer looking for?

  1. Cannot keep balance while listening to the instructions.
  2. Starts before the instructions are finished.
  3. Stops while walking.
  4. Dos not touch heel-to-toe.
  5. Steps off the line.
  6. Uses arms to balance.
  7. Improper turn.
  8. Incorrect number of steps.

One-Leg Stand: The One-Leg Stand test is a divided attention test.

What is the investigating officer looking for?

  1. Sways while balancing.
  2. Uses arms to balance.
  3. Hops.
  4. Puts foot down.

The suspect is deemed unable to complete the One-Leg Stand test when: 1. he/she puts foot down three or more times, during 30 second period; 2. is simply incapable to doing test.

Q. Will I be asked to recite the alphabet in reverse order, Z-A?

A. Officers have been known to ask DUI suspects to recite the alphabet in reverse order. However, it is highly unlikely that you will be asked to complete this particular field sobriety test, but if you are asked to recite the alphabet in reverse order, simply refuse.

Q. When officers are out patrolling for DUI suspect, what are they looking for?

  1. Moving traffic violations
  2. Equipment violations
  3. Expired registration, tag, or inspection sticker
  4. Unusual driving actions
    • Weaving within a lane
    • Weaving across lane lines
    • Straddling a lane line
    • Swerving
    • Turning with a wide radius
    • Drifting
    • Almost striking an object or vehicle
    • Striking an object or vehicle
    • Stopping problems
    • Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
    • Driving in opposing lanes or wrong way on one-way street
    • Slow response to traffic signals
    • Slow or failure to respond to officer’s signals
    • Stopping in lane for no apparent reason
    • Following to closely
    • Driving without headlights at night
    • Illegal or improper turn

Q. Is there mandatory jail time for DUI convictions?

A. Yes. If it is your first DUI or your first DUI within ten years you will have to serve a mandatory 24 hour sentence if you registered over the legal limit. However, you may get credit for any time served on the night of your arrest. If it is your second DUI within ten years you will have to serve a mandatory 72 hour sentence if you registered over the legal limit. However, here again, you may get credit for any time served on the night of your arrest.

DRUG OFFENSES

Q. Is possession of marijuana less than one ounce a misdemeanor?

A. Yes.

Q. Can I use my first offender for a drug charge?

A. Yes, Under Georgia law you can use the First Offender Act to keep a drug charge from being a conviction. However, using the First Offender Act subjects you to strict requirements while on probation and while there are benefits to using the Act there are considerable detriments as well. In fact, utilizing the First Offender Act is actually in the discretion of the presiding Judge and is not automatic. On the other hand in addition to the Fist Offender Act, other provisions of Georgia law exist, which may be more appropriate in your specific circumstances. A Miller & Wynn lawyer can help you way the options and determine whether seeking 1 st Offender treatment is in your best interests.

Q. What does it mean to use your 1 st offender?

A. Whenever any person who has not been previously convicted of any drug offenses pleads guilty to or is found guilty of possession of drugs, the Court, in its sole discretion, may without entering a judgment of guilt and with the consent of the Defendant defer further proceedings and place the defendant on probation. Upon the Defendant’s completion of probation and all the requirements placed on the Defendant by the court the court may dismiss the proceedings against the Defendant. It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that you only get to use this ONCE.

Q. Will I lose my license if I am convicted of a drug charge?

A. Yes, if you are convicted of a drug related offense your driving privileges in the State of Georgia will be suspended. Miller & Wynn always tries to.

Q. If I go with my friend to buy drugs in his car and we are pulled over and law enforcement officers find the drugs in my friend’s car can I be charged with possession?

A. Yes. I often have clients come into my office and say that they thought they could not get in trouble if they did not own the car the drug were found in; however, this is not true. The State will often find that you were in constructive possession.

Q. What is the maximum jail time for a misdemeanor drug charge?

A. The maximum jail time for a misdemeanor case is 12 months; however, in most misdemeanor cases you will serve almost all of that time on some from of probation. It is rare to actually serve 12 months in jail for a misdemeanor.

Theft

Q. When does shoplifting become a felony?

A. The offense of shoplifting is a misdemeanor so long as the property stolen is valued at $300.00 or less. If the value of the property stolen exceeds $300.00 the offense of shoplifting becomes a felony.

Q. Can I be charged with armed robbery even though the weapon I used was a stick taped to look like a gun?

A. Yes. O.C.G.A. § 16-8-41 states, “A person commits the offense of armed robbery when, with the intent to commit theft, he or she takes property of another from the person or the immediate presence of another by use of an offensive weapon, or replica, article, or device having the appearance of such weapon.

Q. Can I really be convicted of theft if I buy stolen property from someone? In other words, I did not steal the property I just bought it from the person that stole the property.

A. Yes. O.C.G.A. § 16-8-7 states, “A person commits the offense of theft by receiving stolen property when he receives, disposes of, or retains stolen property which he knows or should know was stolen unless the property is received, disposed of, or retained with intent to restore it to the owner.”

Q. Is there a minimum sentencing requirement for a person convicted of armed robbery?

A. Yes. If a person is convicted of armed robbery the minimum sentence is imprisonment for not less than 10 years.

FAMILY LAW

Q. What are the grounds for a divorce in Georgia?

A. The statutory law for the State of Georgia provides thirteen grounds for divorce:

  1. Intermarriage by persons within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity and affinity;
  2. Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage;
  3. Impotency at the time of marriage;
  4. Force, menace, duress, or fraud in obtaining the marriage;
  5. Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband, at the time of the marriage, unknown by the husband;
  6. Adultery in either of the parties after marriage;
  7. Willful and continued desertion by either of the parties for the term of one year;
  8. The conviction of either party for an offense involving moral turpitude and under which he or she is sentenced to imprisonment in a penal institution for a term of two years or longer;
  9. Habitual intoxication;
  10. Cruel treatment, which shall consist of the willful infliction of pain, bodily or mental, upon the complaining party, such as reasonably justifies apprehension of danger to life, limb or health;
  11. Incurable mental illness;
  12. Habitual drug addiction;
  13. The marriage is irretrievably broken

Q. Where can I file my divorce in case?

A. In Georgia, with a few exceptions, divorce cases must be filed in the Superior of the county where the defendant resides if the defendant is a resident of Georgia; however, if the defendant is not a resident of Georgia the action must be brought in the county where the plaintiff resides.

Q. When can I modify the Court’s Order setting custody and child support?

A. This answer has several parts. To start, a petition to modify an Order setting child support and custody can be filed at any point after the Court has entered the final judgment of divorce; however, once a petition to modify has been filed and ruled on, the petitioning party must wait two (2) years before they can file another petition to modify. The two year waiting period applies only to the party that filed the petition to modify. Therefore, if you were not the party that filed or petitioned for the modification you do not have to wait two years to file for a modification on your behalf; however, once you file a petition to modify you will then have to wait two years before you are allowed to petition for another modification. There are exceptions to the two year waiting period. One exception revolves around proving that a substantial change in the parties’ circumstances has occurred which makes the current Order impractical or impossible to meet.

Q. What can I do when my ex-spouse fails to adhere to the Court’s Order?

A. If your ex-spouse fails to comply with the Court’s Order you may file a contempt action against your ex-spouse. If your ex-spouse is found guilty of contempt the judge has the authority to incarcerate your ex-spouse for failing to comply with a Court Order.

Q. When filing a Divorce, what needs to be filed?

A. Depending on the facts of your case this answer could vary greatly. However, for a standard, straightforward, non-complex uncontested divorce the following documents would need to be filed: 1) Summons, 2) Petition for Divorce, 3) Verification, 4) Acknowledgment of Service, 5) Consent to Hearing, 6) Consent to Try, 7) Statement of Spouse, 8) Financial Affidavit of Wife, 9) Financial Affidavit of Husband, 10) Check stubs from Husband and Wife, 11) Child Support Worksheet, 12) Settlement Agreement, 13) Parenting Plan, 14) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, 15) Final Order and Decree. Many of the documents mentioned above are complicated to draft and require specific statutory language.

Q. Who is the Plaintiff and who is the Defendant?

A. The Plaintiff is the person who initiates the divorce action and files the initial petition for divorce, and the Defendant is the person who is served and must respond to the petition for divorce.

Q. What does “Legitimation” or “born out of wedlock mean”?

A. In Georgia a child is “illegitimate” or “born out of wedlock” when (1) it is born to parents that are not married and who subsequently do not marry, (2) it is the issue of adulterous intercourse of the wife during wedlock; or (3) it is not legitimate within the meaning of O.C.G.A. § 19-7-20. The important thing to note here is that legitimation proceedings only concern the father of the child (this is because the state presumably knows who the mother of the child is). Most fathers think that even if the child was born out of wedlock as long as their name is on the birth certificate they have rights to the child, but that is not accurate. For a father to have rights to their child born out of wedlock they must legitimate their child if they want to have any legal rights to their child.

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