Carlton Gibson
Lawyer, P.C.
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Family Law

Carlton Gibson, Lawyer, PC

Main Office:
777 Gloucester Street
Suite 410
Brunswick, GA 31520
Tel: (912) 265-7753
Fax: (912) 265-7754

Savannah Office:
7 E. Congress Street
Suite 611G
Savannah, GA 31401
Tel: (912) 238-2996
Fax: (912) 238-2997

 

Family Law

The term family law applies to legal matters that relate to family relationships, rights, duties and finances. In addition to relationships between members within a family, family law rules also apply to the relationship between a family and society. Family law reflects the values society shares regarding how people who are related treat each other. By definition, a family law attorney aids the creation or termination of family relationships. We can offer advice and assistance on many of the intricacies involved. Since you are dealing with a life-altering situation such as divorce, we want to assist in your understanding and resolve the matter to your satisfaction.

 

Divorce

Just as every marriage is different, so is every divorce. Each case offers a unique set of circumstances with different legal issues to be addressed. Carlton Gibson is adept and experienced at handling the wide spectrum of cases, from the most straight forward, uncontested case with few challenges to the most complex cases, involving high assets, custody and property issues.

The definition of divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage. That sounds simple but usually divorce involves the division of property between the parties, child custody, child support, visitation, family owned businesses, retirement benefits and a host of other issues.

Ideally, a divorce settlement will be reached without the intervention of the court. This is when the parties come to an agreement on their own or through mediation. The attorney will draft a Settlement Agreement stating in legal terms what has been agreed to, both parties will sign and then the attorney will file it with the court. If, however, consensus cannot be reached, we will aggressively represent our client in court to ensure a satisfactory outcome.


Child Support

Carlton Gibson has experience in assisting clients with child support issues and keeps abreast of changing laws in the state of Georgia. He is a fierce advocate for keeping the best interests of the child at the forefront of every child support action.

Although general guidelines are outlined in the law, many factors are examined before the court decides upon a “fair and reasonable” amount of child support. Educational costs, medical expenses, day care costs, shared physical custody and many other issues are considered. The incomes of both parents and of a new spouse (in the case of remarriage) as well as obligations to other households are all part of the equation.

Carlton Gibson and his highly skilled team will guide you through the process keeping your needs and goals in mind. If it becomes necessary, he will be a staunch advocate for you in litigation of your case.


Paternity & Legitimation

In Georgia, a legal action to establish paternity is called “legitimation.” Unmarried fathers seeking visitation with their child or an unmarried mother seeking child support, must first establish a legal father-child relationship through an Order of Legitimation.

The legitimation process is necessary to establish paternity when the parents are unmarried, even if the father is named on the birth certificate. However, the process is simpler if both parents agree who the father is. If the parents do not agree, then paternity must be established through DNA testing.

Carlton Gibson represents unmarried fathers and mothers who wish to establish paternity through legitimation orders. We also handle petitions for child support, custody and visitation rights once paternity has been determined.


Child Custody

The Georgia courts award physical custody based on the best interests of the child. Taken into consideration is the safety of the child, any history of domestic abuse and the preferences of the child if the child is of an appropriate age and maturity.

The agreed upon view in child custody law is that children benefit greatly from having both parents in their lives. Determining the custodial arrangement for physical or legal custody during a divorce can be quite difficult and confusing to the parties and the child. Carlton Gibson can help clients through the process to reach a harmonious arrangement.

Recent changes to the child custody and child support laws have raised concerns about fathers' rights, since the father is often the parent who has less custodial time and pays more child support. We vigorously defend the rights of both parents and can assist with modifications to support, custody and visitation arrangements.


Post-Divorce/Modifications

The Georgia Child Support Guidelines are used in determining if a modification is appropriate, and if so, how much the amount can be changed. However, a judge can deviate from the child support guidelines if necessary. Ultimately, the decision lies in the hands of the judge, who can accept or deny modifications.

In Georgia, a divorce judgment or order can be enforced through an action for contempt. Anyone found in contempt of court is subject to a number of consequences, including jail time.

The following are examples of contempt actions:

· If a parent has not been paying child support, a contempt action can result in that parent being jailed until he or she provides full payment of all amounts past due.

· If a spouse refuses to turn over an asset such as stock or other property subject to a settlement agreement, he or she can be found in contempt of court and jailed until the asset is relinquished.

· If a custodial parent refuses to allow visitation to the non-custodial parent, he or she can be found in contempt of the child custody order.  Refusal to allow visitation can also be used as possible grounds for a modification in child custody.

· If a non-custodial parent refuses to return a child following a scheduled visit, he or she can be found in contempt.

· If a spouse refuses to pay temporary or permanent alimony as ordered by the court, he or she can be found in contempt.

 

There are defenses in contempt actions. For example, when a parent is falling behind significantly in child support payments, Mr. Gibson may be able to move the Court for a downward modification in the amount to be paid. He will work to resolve the issues before going to Court, or to negotiate a payment plan to avoid possible jail time. In Georgia, contempt actions are tried by a judge who will review the merits and possible defenses of the case.

The child custody, visitation and support agreements appropriate at the time of divorce may not be appropriate years later if circumstances of either party or the child have changed. The following are examples of when a modification of a divorce agreement can be filed:

· If child support payments were calculated prior to January 1, 2007, a modification may be appropriate if payment or receipt of a different amount is indicated by the new guidelines.

· If the income of either parent has changed significantly, it could result in an increase or decrease in the amount of child support to be paid by the non-custodial parent.

· If a child is not doing well at school or at home, child custody and visitation rights may be changed.

· If a custodial parent wishes to relocate, child custody and visitation may be changed.  The custodial parent cannot move the child out-of-state without court approval.

· If a child is abused or neglected by a parent, that parent’s custody or visitation rights may be changed, taken away or made subject to court supervision.

 

Carlton Gibson will guide you through the legal process of obtaining a child custody, visitation or support modification. We will make every effort to expedite your case and we will ensure that your rights as well as the rights of your children will be protected now and in the future.

Premarital Agreements

Prenuptial agreements, also called premarital agreements are becoming more common. For some engaged couples a prenuptial agreement is vital to protect previous assets such as an inheritance, trust fund, stock options, retirement accounts, and real estate.

In Georgia when a couple gets divorced, property is divided in a equitable manner. For a prenuptial agreement that will be upheld in court, the parties must be open and forthcoming with information. Both parties must sign the agreement without coercion or duress. Both parties should have legal counsel to ensure that the agreement is properly executed and witnessed. If these conditions are met, the agreement is more likely to be upheld in a divorce action if that should occur.

These guidelines are the same for post-nuptial agreements, meaning that both parties should have legal representation for the protection of individual property. Carlton Gibson has been drafting such agreements for years, and will ensure that your agreement incorporates all elements necessary to be upheld and to be enforceable.


Our Goal

We are committed to using our extensive knowledge and experience in family law to serve our clients. We understand the complexities and emotionality of family law cases. We are proud to have successfully handled complex and difficult cases involving millions of dollars in assets spread throughout the world. Each case presents different facts and legal issues, and we therefore develop an individual strategy for each client to make sure his or her goals are met or exceeded.

Our resources to be applied to your case, if necessary, include expert forensic accountants, psychologists, and experienced private investigators.

Our goal in each case is to achieve the best outcome in a straightforward, timely and cost- effective manner. Should the case go to trial, we will commit our extensive trial skills to aggressively achieve the desired outcome with excellence and integrity of representation.
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