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The Do’s and Don’ts of Managing Marital Property

Managing marital property can easily become one of the most complex pieces of a divorce settlement.  This is true even with only moderate assets.

For some couples, dividing marital property during a divorce is simplified due to a prenuptial agreement or state law.

For others going through a divorce, division of property is a difficult part of the process due to the amount or types of assets (e.g., equity in a marital home, time share property, retirement asset(s), investment accounts, and accumulated debts).  The division of property is also often made more more difficult because of the  desires of each party or because there no “clear” or unambiguous state laws or prenuptial agreement.  Georgia is an “equitable division” state; this means that the Court has absolute discretion to divide marital property in a fair way after hearing evidence—please understand that such a division does not always mean “equal.”

By determining what is and isn’t marital property before moving into divorce proceedings, you can minimize your assets’ risk and maximize the chances of any potential settlement.

The first step in determining the best way to manage and protect your marital property and assets, is to define what “is” and what “isn’t” considered marital property, then cover specific recommendations to maximize any settlement to your benefit.

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What is Considered Marital Property?

Marital property is considered anything that is acquired or shared during a marriage. This includes both financial assets like bank accounts and stocks, as well as non-monetary assets like homes, cars, and art; it also included debts accumulated during the marriage.

During a divorce, everything that is acquired or shared during the marriage, is considered marital property. Some states have community property laws, which requires an equal, 50-50, split of everything.  The best example of a community property state is California.

Most states, though, including Georgia, use an equitable division of property, which requires that assets are managed based on the specific facts of the case, the needs and assets of each party, and, oftentimes, the conduct of one spouse. In most states, a prenuptial agreement will expedite and aide a Court in determining the division of property.  However, even a prenuptial agreement is rebuttable and can be overturned if not done properly or appropriately.  While a prenuptial agreement does not supersede state laws, it does serve as a rule or guide for the parties and Court in dividing property on a final basis.

If a prenuptial agreement is not honored by a court, or considered invalid, and an agreement can not be reached out of court, then the court will determine the division of assets. In that case, it is important to prioritize facts related to the property to be divided and present a cogent argument to the court as to “why” the court should accept your argument and divide the property the way you want it to.  This is particularly true if your assets have been comingled. That is, when non-marital and marital property have been mixed, making non-marital property lose its character as “non-marital.”

These do’s and don’ts of managing marital property can help you determine the best way to manage your assets before, during and after beginning the settlement and divorce process.

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The Do’s of Managing Marital Property

DO consider using a prenuptial agreement.

Prenuptial agreements cover what will happen to property in the event of divorce or death. This clarifies what will not be considered marital property to protect existing assets. Many believe that prenuptial agreements are only for those with significant assets to protect, but most couples would benefit from working with a lawyer to draw up an agreement that both parties agree upon before anything happens.

DO maintain records to establish ownership.

These records establish the property you brought into the marriage, and act as proof in the event of a divorce. This can also include gifts or inheritance you receive while married. It also may include things like deeds, titles, receipts, and other proof of ownership. The more thorough the records, the more likely you will be to maintain ownership in the event of a divorce. 

DO keep assets separate if you’re concerned about keeping them in the event of a divorce.

Commingling property makes it difficult (if not impossible) to distinguish separate assets. If you’re concerned about specific assets like a retirement, equity in a house, or property, then keep the asset completely apart from “joint” or “marital” property.

Keep in mind that if you use some of that asset to buy something for the family, or if you put it in a “joint” account and purchase items during the marriage, that asset is now commingled and has lost its’ character as non-marital property.  It will be subject to Georgia laws on equitable division.

DO prepare well before signing the prenuptial or settlement agreement.

One way to identify and prepare for non-marital and marital assets to be maintained or divided is to set up these accounts properly before signing a prenuptial agreement or settlement agreement. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may help because you and your spouse are in very likely in agreement on how to divide your property in the case of divorce or death.  However, once a divorce is filed, you won’t be able to move assets as freely without consequence.

DO know that an asset’s increased value can be considered marital property.

Even if an asset was owned by one party before the marriage, any increases in value can be considered part of marital property if that asset has been comingled. This is primarily determined by whether the asset is active or passive. Active appreciation refers to anything that has grown through effort, like managing investments or renovating a property.  Passive appreciation refers to anything that happened as a result of simple economic or market forces, like interest on your money or appreciation of you property.

While there is not much you can do about changing these active assets, it’s important to be prepared in handling any division of them in the event of a divorce.

DO keep personal injury case proceeds separate.

If you want to protect proceeds from a personal injury case to maintain its non-marital status, then then the settlement should be primarily a result of your “pain and suffering” and not simply a result of your lost wages or medical expenses. It’s important to note that any settlement that is for expenses or that reimburse you for lost income or your spouse’s loss of companionship. Because income is considered joint property, anything replacing income will be considered a shared asset.

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The Don’ts of Managing Marital Property

DON’T pay off marital debt with non-marital funds.

If non-marital funds are used to pay off a marital debt, the assets could then be considered marital and would be subject to equitable division or a prenuptial agreement. Instead, use shared assets like income to pay off debts that were incurred during your marriage to keep non-marital funds separate. 

DON’T use non-marital property to buy shared property.

Commingling non-marital and marital property will effectively transition the character of all assets from non-marital into marital property. This means that you should only use non-marital property to purchase additional assets if you will be the sole owner. A car that is bought with your non-marital property and titled in the name of you and your spouse would be considered marital property. (This could also lead to your non-marital assets being claimed as marital.) 

DON’T deposit income into non-marital accounts.

Because any income made while married is typically considered marital property, it will need to be kept separate from non-marital property. This can still be in a separate account under just your name, but it shouldn’t be deposited into an acocunt with pre-existing non-marital assets.

DON’T use non-marital assets to open a joint bank account.

Even if you plan to maintain records on what funds belong to you and your spouse, it’s important to keep separate accounts if you want the funds for non-marital property. If necessary, use income or other pre-determined “joint” financial assets to open joint accounts.

DON’T assume premarital property will stay non-marital.

Any property, like a home, boat, or rental property owned before marriage is never completely safe from partially becoming marital property. This is particularly true if you and your spouse have invested into it to maintain the property or contributed substantially to the property’s improvement. If this value increase of the property is deemed marital, your spouse is likely be entitled to a portion of the increase in value of the property.

Managing marital property is an important piece of entering into the divorce settlement process. Because Georgia uses an equitable division of assets analyesis in divorce cases, determining what is and isn’t marital property is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your property. Use these do’s and dont’s as a guide, and always consult with a lawyer regarding your unique case specifics.

Your Marietta Based Divorce Attorney

If you’re considering a divorce and are looking for expert, compassionate guidance on managing assets, we would like to help.

You can reach us 24/7 to schedule your no cost divorce consultation by calling (678) 738-0056.

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How to Keep from “BLOWING UP” Your Case
(and Hurting Your Children)

Divorce affects more than you and your spouse. It affects parents, siblings, and most importantly, your children. Divorce is difficult for children of any age, and it can open up tricky emotions, difficult conversations, and complex behavioral challenges.  Children often manifest the stress they feel in behavioral ways; from distraction to crying, depression to inappropriate peer relationships—these all can be outward signs that your children are suffering the stress of conflict between you and their “other” parent.

To keep divorce from sabotaging your relationship with your children pre-, mid-, and post-divorce, consider these recommendations.

Know That This is Difficult for Them, Too

While you are the one with the marriage ending, your children are also experiencing life-disrupting (and life changing) relationship issue. This is going to be a difficult season for them. This is true for children of all ages and it absolutely affects their development physically, socially, emotionally and academically.  Oftentimes we think of children as “resilient.”  Perhaps a better way of thinking is that children are “malleable”—the conflict between you and your spouse does not allow them to “spring back into shape,” but rather allows them to “mold into a new shape” without breaking.  Children have spent their entire lives within your marriage, knowing and learning that both of “you” are “half” of who they are as people.  They need time to adjust to the new dynamic between you and your ex, their new environment, and their new reality.

Your emotions about the “other” parent need to remain “yours.” Do not involve your children in the matter and do not speak negatively about the their other parent.  Children tend to internalize these types of things which creates anxiety in the child and causes them to question who they are individually. This often leads to stress, anxiety, depression and acting out by the child.

Try to be mindful of your emotions and how they come across to the child and be aware that children, regardless of age, are far more “in tune” with you than you realize.  Children understand even the most inadvertent acts that involve their parents—because they are in tune to their own changing dynamic and the stress going on around them.  They hear that conversation with a friend where all the things the “other parent” has done wrong is talked about; They listen to your opinion about the character of their other parent and what he or she has done even though they are “in the other room.”  Be mindful that children have “big ears” and understand a lot more than you may be willing to give them credit for—regardless of their age.  Save any negative emotions about the other parent for your lawyer or therapist or another trusted advisor. Give your children the space to process their thoughts and emotions, and leave any negativity—even subtle comments at the door. Then, IF and when it is possible, sit down with your children at a neutral location with their other parent and answer any questions the children have in an open forum showing that you and the other parent are “unified” in your approach to issues that involve them—even when you may disagree.

If the situation precludes you from doing so, do your best to answer your children’s questions clearly and without talking down or negatively about the other parent. Remember, that person you may dislike now was someone you cared for at some point; they are your children’s parent, too, and deserve some respect. (As difficult as this can be at times!)

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Communicate with Their Other Parent Regularly

Unless your situation makes this difficult or not advisable, communicate regularly with the children’s other parent. While there were likely communication breakdowns leading up to your decision to divorce or separate from your children’s parent, these breakdowns need to be rectified in order to help your children thrive in their new reality.

Maintain as Positive a Relationship as Possible (with the “ex”)

Pick-ups, drop-offs, and custody agreements are not the easiest of things to live with.  Someone always wants or “needs” to change things: His parents are coming into town on a weekend where your children are with you, the children are involved in events outside the home, you have to move for work, you simply would like an extra day during summer vacation, a good, positive relationship with your ex makes these things much easier to accommodate, if needed.

Naturally, this is frequently not the reality you are in right now, or is more difficult based on your personal situation and type of family issue, whether divorce or modification case you have been through. However, a good relationship with your “ex” is possible in even the most contested cases once the litigation is over and the Court rules. Commit to making the best decisions for your children, leaving fault and blame aside and reducing the tension with your former spouse —even if it means not “being right,” even though you know you are.  Moreover, there are ways to make tough communication with your ex easier—whether face to face or otherwise.

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Prepare for a Difficult Patch with Your Children

Even the most well-adjusted children will struggle with a divorce. As discussed briefly above, children adjust to divorce, but their difficulty is often seen through stress, anxiety, depression and misbehavior.  You should always prepare for the worst, but hope for the best with your children. Regardless of which parent you are, take the children where you find them (emotionally speaking) and do not set yourself up for frustration by expecting that the children are in the same place you are emotionally.  Do not get disappointed or frustrated if the children do not react the way you had hoped or how you wanted them to—they are experiencing their own challenges in this “new” situation.  This does not mean, however, to forego any rules or responsibility the children have—boundaries and expectations for your children are equally critical at this point in their lives and cannot be ignored—plus, these give the children some familiar “structure” that they need.

If problems do persist, consider making an appointment with a child therapist or child psychologist for the child, and watch for sudden behavioral changes. These professionals can give you the support and tools you need to help your children through this experience.

This information isn’t meant to discourage you. Instead, we want to empower you to create a safe and even happy space during your divorce or modification action so your children can process their emotions and prepare for their new lives.

Remain Proactive when Discussing Your Divorce

Remain honest and proactive when asked by your children or when discussing the situation you are in with their other parent. This will look different for every case, whether divorce, modification of custody action, or contempt, but it typically includes keeping an open line of communication with each child. Reiterate that it’s okay to ask you questions and that you will be honest, but will not go “into detail” about the case with their other parent. This can also help prepare them for the stress legal proceedings inevitably bring.

The proceedings of a case is particularly important to children who are older and have been told they “…are old enough to choose which parent they want to live with.” Help them process this by listening, weighing their thoughts on the options, and refrain from criticizing or judging their thoughts on the process.  Most importantly, however, reiterate that ultimately, it is the Court’s decision on which parent they live with and not entirely “their decision.”

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Raising Your Children Is a Collaboration, Not a Competition

The term “co-parenting” has become a buzzword. That doesn’t make it a negative idea. Co-parenting with your former spouse is rift with potholes, especially as your children mature and develop. Commit to raising your children collaboratively as much as possible. Parenting is never a competition. The more you (or your ex) try to “be right” or “one-up” the other, the more likely it is to sabotage your relationship with your children and the other parent.

To co-parent children takes effort and involves you being more concerned about facilitating a relationship between the child and his (or her) other parent than being “right” or “having more” than they do—regardless.  It means making decisions about your children with similar thoughts, rules and understanding toward your “ex” and “together” as much as possible. Co-parenting requires work between you and your former spouse, along with listening to your children’s needs.

If your specific situation makes this impossible, focus on the positive aspects of your ex and limit the negative exposure your child gets about their other parent, even if it may be painful for you in the short term.  This will lead to a much healthier relationship between you and your child in the long term.

Introduce a Routine as Soon as Possible

Introduce your children to a new routine as soon as it is established and with a positive attitude about the change. This will not only help your children begin to adjust, but also helps create a new normal to give them a sense of what to expect.

For example:

  • Help the children understand which days of the week they are with you and which days they are with their other parent.  As you see them off to the other parent’s home, let them know you love them and hope they have “fun” during their time away;
  • Help the children understand their new pick up and drop off schedules from school and extracurricular activities;
  • Explain to the children what school holidays and summer vacation will be like;
  • And the list could go on.

These routines will take some time to fully implement. Much like when they were babies, though, a routine can help improve behavior concerns and reduce the impact your divorce or modification case has on your relationship with them.

In closing, divorce is difficult for you, but it can be even more difficult for your children who are still developing their coping mechanisms and communication skills. Support their growth through empathy, clear communication, collaboration, and space throughout the process.

Once you begin to rebuild your lives with them, you can start to engage with them about their emotions, questions, and concerns about their new lives. Remember: you’re in this together, and you’re a team. Divorce or Modification of Custody is another challenge and you’re going to get through it together.

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10 Things To Not Do During Divorce

 

Do Not Do These Things

Good divorce tips can keep you from making serious mistakes. After your decision to divorce, you are more than likely riddled with an overwhelming assortment of emotions. You might feel disrespected, abandoned, slighted, cheated, and a whole other hodgepodge of emotions that can leave you feeling restless, spiteful and retaliatory. This constant mental and emotional pressure could soon take a toll on your judgment. In your haste to get back at your estranged wife or husband, you might say and do some things that can hurt you, your children, and your soon-to-be ex-spouse for the rest of your lives. Lashing out at your ex might give you instant gratification. However, the ramifications of your actions could leave you without custody of your children, behind bars, or publicly ostracized from formerly favorable personal and professional circles. Do not let your life remain in disarray due to a passing life circumstance. Take control of the situation now and learn the 10 things to never do during an uncontested divorce to save your reputation, your freedom, and your relationship with your children.

1)Do Not Verbally Threaten or Physically Attack

When the love of your life is walking away and never coming back, it can feel like the only thing that will make you feel better is threatening him or her with physical harm. Do not do it. While you might think that words are just words, the law declares otherwise. A seemingly harmless death threat against your estranged spouse can land you in jail. It can also cause a judge to deem that you are an unfit parent who should not have custody of your children. If you actually inflict physical harm, you could go to prison as well as lose your children. Remind yourself every day throughout the uncontested divorce to not verbally threaten or physically attack your spouse. If you do, you have everything to lose and absolutely nothing to gain.

2)Never Contemplate Engaging in Illegal Activities

Now that you have conditioned yourself to avoid threatening words and physically harmful actions, it is time to elevate your mental state one step further. You might have assets you do not want your spouse to gain access to during your divorce. You might also think it will be easy to hide those assets. Do not do it. Assets gained during your marriage are often your spouse’s assets, also. Hiding them from your lawyer is a crime. Fess up to the assets, cut your losses, and move on. This is only a minor setback. You will obtain more money and possessions throughout your life. Don’t let it cost you even more money, or your physical freedom.

Additionally, though rarely spoken of openly, some people try to make false assertions of child molestation or abuse to receive sole custody of their children. These outrageous lies can severely damage the reputation of your spouse, and could have him or her wrongly imprisoned. If thoughts of lying about the moral behavior of your spouse come to mind, immediately dispel them. When the truth comes to light, you will ultimately only hurt yourself and your children with your malicious lies.

3)Do Not Stalk Your Spouse

You might not have been the one to let go of your marriage. You might still love your spouse, and want to reconcile as soon as possible. However, if your spouse does not feel the same way, you might feel that all he or she needs is a little convincing. You might think that visiting his or her home without permission, or dropping by the bars, restaurants or sporting venues he or she visits is a good way to get them to fall in love with you again. Furthermore, in your desperation, you might believe that contacting your spouse’s coworkers and friends to plead your reconciliation case is a good idea. None of these ideas are good ideas. In fact, they are all different facets of one very, very bad action: stalking. Stalking is an unacceptable activity that can land you in jail, jeopardize your child custody case, and tarnish your reputation in your community. Take the high road now and do not harass your spouse.

4)Do Not Freely Give Out Excessive Verbal or Written Information

You will undoubtedly need to call your spouse to tell him or her about doctor’s appointments, child visitation confirmation, parent/teacher conferences and other important things as they arise. When you have to leave a voice mail or send an email, be very brief and factual in your correspondence. Saying more than you should can entice your spouse to twist your words against you, and make you look like you are doing wrongful things when you are not. Remember, you are getting a divorce. You are no longer together. You only owe your spouse the basic information he or she needs to continue to be a good parent to your child. Anything else you say could be used to hurt you emotionally or financially.

5)Do Not Criticize Your Spouse in Front of Your Children

Your love for your spouse might now be replaced with only hate. This is a natural part of the healing process that eventually passes for most divorced people who at least rekindle a cordial friendship for the sake of their children. Do not let your temporary hateful feelings allow you to criticize your spouse in front of your children. Do not think for a second that your children will love you more if you tell them all of the horrible things your spouse has done to you. They will not. They will only resent you for trying to turn them against the parent they love and trust. You cannot buy your children’s loyalty by trashing your spouse. However, you can earn your children’s loyalty by allowing them to hear only good things about their other parent, and by being totally supportive of their loving relationship with him or her.

6)Do Not Destroy Your Spouse’s Property

Your spouse might have left some of his or her personal belongings behind when he or she left the family home. In your anger, you might want to destroy them to get back at him or her. Do not do it. Destroying your spouse’s personal property makes you look like an out-of-control person that harms other people’s property during spiteful fits. Performing these actions can only hurt the child custody and property division aspects of your uncontested divorce. Remember that destroying your spouse’s family heirlooms will only take away what is rightfully your children’s future property. Ask your spouse to pick up any left-behind items immediately to help you remove any thoughts about destroying them from your mind.

7)Only Speak to Your Spouse When it is Truly Necessary

Your spouse was arguably your best friend throughout the course of your courtship and marriage. While you might not want to remain married, you might deeply miss your friend. You might want to call him or her to talk about work or personal matters. Resist this temptation, and let your friendship with your spouse fade from your life. During your uncontested divorce, only call your spouse when it is truly necessary. Keep each conversation cordial, short and to the point. Talking to your estranged spouse during divorce proceedings can lead to arguments, and the saying of things that you cannot take back. These seemingly innocent remarks could be turned around to hurt you during the divorce negotiations.

8)Never Let Your Behavior Be Misrepresented as Severe Instability

After your separation, you might want to let loose a bit and have fun with your friends. You might feel that since you are going through a difficult time, you are entitled to a little partying. However, your incessant drinking, or asking friends for their prescription pills to help you unwind, can make you look unstable and out-of-control. If your behavior is divulged to your spouse’s lawyer, he or she might develop an unfit parent case against you. Furthermore, your disorderly behavior could get you arrested. If that happens, you will have a hard time explaining to a judge that you were just having a fun night out, and do not actually have a drinking or drug problem.

9)Remember That You Are Getting Divorced, Not Engaging in Battle

Oftentimes, divorcing couples forget that the purpose of a divorce is to legally separate with a solid child custody and property division agreement. These couples mistakenly fall into the trap of thinking that a divorce is a way to mentally and physically hurt their spouse as much as they possibly can. Do not let yourself fall into this trap. Keep your eye on the final objective, which is to leave the marriage with the honor and dignity of each person involved in tact. Ultimately, fighting serves no positive purposes, and can only harm your emotional health. A divorce is not a fight. A divorce is a permanent decision to move on with your life so that you can find the happiness in life, and future partner, that you truly deserve.

10)Remember That One Day Your Divorce Will Be Over and Your Life Will Go On

While your life might appear to be over throughout your divorce, in reality it is not. In time you will no longer feel hurt and angry. You will find a new love interest, new hobbies to enjoy, new ways to celebrate the holidays, and surprising new ways to again fall in love with life. Throughout your divorce process, even when you feel like all is lost, remember that this is only a temporary situation in your life. In a relatively short time you will probably find that your divorce ultimately left you better off than you could have imagined.

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Top 10 Things To Do During A Divorce

Do Theese 10 Things

All divorce tips are not good. There are divorce tips which can help you win when you and your spouse have called it quits. One of you has moved out of the family home, and you have divided up most, if not all, of your personal belongings. You have decided on an uncontested divorce to rid yourself of unnecessary stress and hassle. Both of you want out of the marriage, and both of you want to move on with your life.

While you might feel free as a bird and ready to live your life on your own terms again, beware. Everything that you say and do can be used against you during your divorce negotiations. If you act in an unbecoming matter in front of the wrong people, you might just lose custody of your children. You could also lose your freedom if you can’t control your temper, and physically lash out at your estranged husband or wife. Worst of all, you could permanently damage your reputation. The loss of honor could hurt your professional and personal life for years and years to come.

You are a good person. You deserve respect. Respect yourself right now by learning the 10 things to always do during an uncontested divorce to save yourself from irreparable character blemishes.

1) Let it Out, and Let it Go

You are undoubtedly a bundle of mixed emotions. Your whole life is in pieces. The security of depending on your spouse for emotional, physical and financial support is long, long gone. You are hurt, angry, sad, depressed and lonely. You deserve to feel these feelings. They are all included in the natural healing process. It might be in your best interests to get professional guidance to help you accept this major life adjustment. It might also be time to take up a new hobby or sport to keep your mind off of things. You have a new life now. It is time to let go. Once you do, you will realize that as each day passes, the new positive things in your life will replace the negative ones. One day you will wake up without anger and hurt in your heart. You will look forward to holidays again, acquiring new things, and being independent. Once you let go, it will be much easier for you to not embarrass yourself or risk losing what is due to you in the divorce. So, rule number one is let it out, and let it go.

2) Let Decency and Dignity Become Your New Best Friends

Never, ever, ever let yourself get out of control in front of the people in your ex’s life. This is the time for you to present yourself with honor, decency and dignity in front of your ex’s family and circle of friends. If you have to go to your ex’s workplace, do so with a smile on your face for everyone there. Do not let your emotions get the best of you right now in front of people that can tell your ex about your out-of-line behavior.

3) Mind Your Mouth

You might have several legitimate gripes about your ex. He or she could have lied, manipulated, neglected and severely mentally hurt you or your children. However, unless he or she has physically hurt you, there is always the chance that you might fall in love with him or her again. Therefore, it is in your best interests to keep your ex-bashing limited to just a few close friends and family members. To make matters worse, if you say innocently that you wish your ex physical harm, it could coincidentally happen. If that arises, all fingers will point to you and you might have a really hard time clearing your name. Condition yourself now to mind your mouth and you will be grateful later for taking the high road through your divorce.

4) Your Child is a Child, Not a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Generally speaking, the easiest way for you to get under your ex’s skin is to use your children against him or her. Unfortunately, this is a game that many people play. What happens to those people years later is that they find themselves estranged from the very same children that they used as pawns in the divorce game. Spare yourself your ex’s immediate pain, and your future heartbreak, by respecting your children enough to only speak highly of your ex. Then, take it one step further and allow them to remain as close to your ex as they were when you were still living together under the same roof.

5) Take it Easy

Honestly, the end of your marriage might have felt like a prison sentence. The beginning of your divorce probably felt like a living hell. Now that reality has sunk in, you might want to let loose, party and become, well, a little promiscuous. Don’t do it. Just one morning of waking up not knowing what you did the night before can ruin your personal stability. Even if nothing horrendous happened, the guilt and shame you will feel over your reckless behavior will effect your future decision making, your self worth and your parenting skills. Make a commitment to yourself to get through your divorce without becoming reckless. You have everything to lose and absolutely nothing to gain by handing over your mental and physical stability to temporary instant gratification.

6) Protect Your Prized Possessions

Round up all of your prized possessions and ask a close family member or friend to hold on to them for you until your divorce is over. This includes jewelry, pictures, personal mementos and anything whose absence from your life would shatter you. In a fit of anger, your ex could destroy them to get back at you. Prepare for the worst and don’t let this occurrence happen to you and the things that you care about.

7) Develop a Financial Plan

Almost every separation ends with a lowered monthly income for both parties involved. Instead of allowing yourself to slip into denial, take control of the situation. Honestly assess your finances, and develop a monetary plan that puts your bank account in the black each month. This might mean taking on a part-time job, cutting back on impulse purchases, or even taking your lunch to work with you instead of going out to eat every day. The sacrifices you make now will be rewarded later when you find that you can financially take care of yourself and your children without anyone’s assistance.

8) Keep Meticulous Communication Records

One of the wisest things you can do during your divorce is to keep meticulous communication records. Every time that you talk to your spouse about your children, community property or other personal effects is a time worth documenting. Record child visitation punctuality, and payments that you make or receive. Write down anything out of the ordinary that occurs in full detail to ensure that you augment your memory with a play-by-play of who, what, how, when and where. What might seem innocent but strange to you could in reality be a well-played, spousal attack. Protect yourself with documentation and you will protect yourself from mental anguish later.

9) Trust Your Attorney

When something negative happens with your ex, your attorney should be one of the first ones to know. Even if the incident causes you personal discomfort to discuss, your attorney is your number-one ally in your divorce. He or she cannot help you if you will not let yourself be helped. If you do not disclose embarrassing situations, when these instances are brought up your lawyer will be blindsided and unprepared to immediately go to bat for you. Let your attorney do his or her job. Alert him or her to what is going on. Trust your attorney and stand back while he or she reverses the situation in your favor.

10) Put Your Personal Safety First

If your ex has a violent history, or has behaviors that are cause for concern, speak to your attorney about his or her physically forceful outbreaks, comments or odd behaviors. One option is to have your attorney secure a TPO (Temporary Protective Order), which is commonly called a Restraint Order which is a formal court order that limits the type of contact that your estranged spouse can have with you. Violating a TPO can result in arrest so most people understand that compliance is a good idea.

Then, decide if you or your children should stay with a family member or friend for a while, or even hire a personal bodyguard. Even if your ex has never been violent, he or she might feel that they now have nothing to lose. In this case, an unexpected violent situation could occur. Change the locks on your home’s doors, and take note of being followed on the road. Listen closely for changes in your ex’s voice, demeanor or even email correspondence. Protect yourself and your children from harm as best you can now to minimize the chances of serious problems or a regrettable tragedy.

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Filing Divorce in Georgia

Divorce 101

How to file divorce in Georgia

Filing divorce in Georgia is not necessarily complicated; however making mistakes in a self-managed divorce process is easy. In the state of Georgia individuals may file for divorce without an attorney; however this is very rarely a good idea. While the primary objective, dissolution of a marriage, may seem as simple it is always more complicated than first thought. Even if the divorce is amicable each party taking their possessions and going their separate ways requires a formal settlement. If children are involved their are parenting plans, parenting classes and other items that need to be managed. The process is best managed by an experienced divorce law firm, and it does not necessarily have to be expensive.

Filing divorce in Georgia starts by filing the appropriate papers in the Superior Court. Once filed there is a formal process which can take anywhere from about six weeks to several years to be finalized. It is possible for a divorce to be finalized in as little as 31 days however; this is far from typical.

About The Divorce Process

You begin by developing a formal “complaint” which describes your your particular situation and reasons for filing divorce. The Complaint will be used for the court to serve formal papers on your spouse.

If you and your spouse have reached agreement on the terms of your separation the court can grant your final divorce decree in about six weeks. If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement the process will take considerably longer. In Georgia mediation is a recommended manner to resolve differences and minimize emotional conflicts while negotiating your settlement.

Items that can complicate your case are child custody, spousal support equitable division of property and related matters. To learn more about filing divorce in Georgia and your rights in a divorce you should at least consult with an attorney. The decisions and agreements you make are almost permanent so you should be prudent in how you approach your divorce. Hiring a competent and experienced divorce attorney is always a good idea. More information is available on our website and the state of Georgia offers information on filing for divorce.