Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year Haiku From The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC!

The (Not-So) Happy New Year Haiku
New Year Certainties:
Death, Higher Taxes, Divorce
And White Collar Crime!
[All haikus and all kidding aside: We wish you a Happy New Year!]

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Divorce "Tip of the Day:" Putting Aside Money

Let's try to end the year with another post involving practical tips for women seeking a divorce. (Of course, our family law firm also represents men in divorce cases, too!) Again, as we have emphasized many times before, we practice law only in the State of Georgia. You should always consult with your own divorce lawyer in your own state before making any decisions affecting your legal rights!
Let's talk about money. Here, at The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC, (a father and son family law firm located in Martinez, Georgia, just outside Augusta, Georgia), we sometimes get telephone calls from women who need to retain a divorce attorney, but they simply do not have the means to hire one. In some cases, they are stay-at-home moms who have limited access to money. What can they do? While there are no easy answers, and although we are not offering legal advice, here are some practical tips for women in this situation to consider:
1. Regularly put away small amounts of money in a "rainy day fund:" While this is not meant to encourage spouses to hide things from each other, in some situations, it might be appropriate for someone to set aside small amounts of money, e.g. their Christmas gift money, or change at the grocery store, for a "rainy day" need.
2. Talk with trusted family members or friends: This is no time to be bashful. This is one time in your life when you need to talk with family members or close friends who might be able and willing to help you out financially, both with legal expenses and with getting back on your feet financially.
3. Use your credit card: Most divorce lawyers accept credit cards (and maybe you can even let your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," pay the credit card bills later)!
4. Check with local social services agencies: While this won't directly help you with legal expenses, if you know that you and your kids' basic needs will be met, it might free up other funds to apply toward legal costs.
5. Check with womens' shelters: Not only do these fine charities offer protection from abusive spouses, like your own worthless spouse, "Sluggo," but also they sometimes may be able to refer you to law firms which will work with and help such women with the legal costs. Our law firm regularly gets such referrals and helps women in this manner. Some shelters will also even provide some financial assistance with legal costs for divorces or protective orders.
6. Consult with your own divorce lawyer: Sometimes, divorce lawyers can suggest other possible solutions to your problems, including possibly seeking attorney's fees from the other spouse, "Sluggo." Also, some family law firms occasionally accept pro bono cases, at no charge. Of course, each case is different, but it is worth calling and discussing your situation with divorce lawyers who offer, as we do, a free initial consultation.
Do you have any other ideas? I know that there are many people "out there" who are in bad, abusive situations. They are desperate and need help. Here's hoping that, in the new year, more people can find the help and encouragement that they need!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Celebrity Divorces: Charlie Sheen

If you are the publicist for actor Charlie Sheen, then you certainly don't want to see your client's mug shot plastered all over the internet, do you? And if you are Mr. Sheen, then you also certainly don't want to spend part of Christmas day arrested and behind bars on a reported domestic violence charge, do you? But both things apparently occurred a couple of days ago, according to numerous published news reports.
You will recall that Sheen, the star of the popular t.v. comedy series, "Two-And-A-Half Men," went through a really nasty divorce with actress Denise Richards, just a few years ago. Here's hoping that, as Sheen's attorney indicates, this new episode has been blown out of proportion and that Sheen and his current spouse will be able to successfully address this problem, if there is any.
Finally, laying aside whatever happened in Sheen's case, here's also hoping that, in general, more emphasis will be placed on the problem of domestic violence in our society and the ways to properly address it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas: From The Goolsby Law Firm!

From all of us at The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC, to all of you around the world: "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!"

Child Custody: A "Welcome Home" for the Goldmans

Unfortunately, not all child custody battles have happy endings, especially for parents fighting international child custody battles. But I am happy to report today that David Goldman has finally won his battle in Brazilian courts to obtain custody of his 9 year old son! He and his son were headed home earlier today! This is the culmination of a five year custody battle which began when Goldman's wife, (who has since died), left him and returned to Brazil, which was her home.

Now, we can continue to hope and pray for similar success in the other reported 3,000 cases of international child custody abduction, including 16 other children reportedly still located in Brazil. Here's hoping that all nations will agree to abide by The Hague Convention and other international treaties designed to prevent international child abductions!

Welcome home, Goldman family!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Favorite Movies About Divorce: "Mrs. Doubtfire"

In this blog about Georgia divorce, I generally attempt to give you a lot of practical tips and information about divorce for you to discuss with your own divorce attorney. But occasionally, I also enjoy branching out a bit to discuss other matters which are "divorce related!" In other words, I am simply trying to take a dry subject and make it a little more fun, or at least mildly entertaining!
Today, I thought it might be fun to consider: which movie is your favorite movie which deals with divorce? Previously, in this blog, we have discussed the movie, "Kramer v. Kramer." I still maintain that it is the best, proto-typical American movie about divorce.
But my favorite movie about divorce is.........."Mrs. Doubtfire!" (I guess I already gave that one away, didn't I?!) This 1993 comedy classic, starring Robin Williams and Sally Field, addressed a number of issues concerning divorce, including child custody and visitation, which divorcing couples must often confront. However, I like the movie simply because it is a comedy classic with clever writing and because I am a Robin Williams fan!
What do you think? Did you like "Mrs. Doubtfire?" What is your favorite movie about divorce? (Some of you must be thinking: What an unpleasant topic to be discussing during the holiday season!)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Divorce: Week in Review

Have you ever seen a week when there was so much "in the news" about divorce? For instance, we learned this week that Tiger Woods and his spouse reportedly might be getting a divorce. No surprise there, right? We also learned that the Gosselin's divorce became final. Great news for all of us who are tired of hearing about it! And we learned that Ivana Trump, who was formerly married to, (and divorced from), Donald Trump, is now reportedly divorcing her fourth husband. Again, no surprise there, right? But did you hear the news that country singer LeAnn Rimes' husband has also reportedly filed for divorce from her?

The news this week that makes me the saddest involves the previous post in this divorce blog concerning David Goldman's ongoing battle to get back his son from his (now deceased) ex-wife's family in Brazil. At the time of the previous post, it appeared that Mr. Goldman had won a much deserved victory in this international child custody battle. But sadly, since the last post, a Brazilian judge has thrown yet another procedural hurdle into Goldman's efforts to take his son home.

Here's hoping that each of these celebrity divorces ends well for each of these parties and that there will continue to be a lot of divorce issues for me to write about in the new year! And here's also hoping that David Goldman soon wins his valiant child custody battle and gets his son back!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

International Child Custody Battles

Did you hear the good news today? A New Jersey father, David Goldman, has reportedly won a five-year long international child custody battle in the courtrooms of Brazil. Although appeals may delay a much deserved reunion, it has been reported that a Brazilian federal court has granted Mr. Goldman custody of his 9 year old son!

To briefly recap the facts, several years ago, Mr. Goldman's spouse had taken their son with her, supposedly for a vacation trip, from New Jersey to Brazil, (where she was from). Then, once there, she filed for divorce from Goldman. Later, after the divorce, she married another man in Brazil. Subsequently, she died. But her second husband then refused to turn over the little boy to his dad, Mr. Goldman. But now, after a long child custody battle, hopefully, Mr. Goldman will soon be allowed to bring his son home!

While every child custody case is different, this international child custody case illustrates the type of problems which might occur if your marriage to a foreign national dissolves. In such cases, it is imperative that you promptly contact a divorce attorney with experience in international child custody issues. For instance, you will want to research, with your divorce lawyer's help, whether the country to which your ex-spouse may be traveling, (with your child), is a party to international child custody (abduction) treaties or conventions. You will also need to carefully discuss a number of available strategies with your divorce lawyer.

Hopefully, you won't then have to endure the hardships faced by Mr. Goldman in getting back his son!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Governor Mark Sanford: A Harsh Lesson On How Not To Divorce Your Spouse

This post is about lessons everyone should learn from the divorce case of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford concerning how NOT to go about getting a divorce; that is, if you want to at least keep the shirt on your back! (Of course, this is simply a blog and no legal advice is offered, not even to the Governor. You should first discuss each of the issues in this blog with your own divorce attorney, just as Governor Sanford should have done so)!

Friday's announcement by the Governor's wife, Jenny Sanford, that she had filed for a divorce probably shocked no one. Unlike many other politician wives, she had made it clear, from the beginning, that she wasn't going to simply ignore his infidelity and "stand by her man!" But the path taken by the Governor, beginning with his bizarre behavior which culminated with his June, 2009 press conference was the real shocker! In my opinion, here are some of the reasons why.

For instance, you will recall that the Governor, (shown above during earlier, happier times), had strangely disappeared from the state for several days, without telling anyone. Of course, we later learned that he had taken a secret trip to Argentina to see his girl friend. (We later would also learn that he had taken other similar trips at taxpayers' expense).

But there's more!

Then, in another strange move, he had his staffers lie by announcing that he had merely taken a hike on the Appalachian Trail.

But there's more!

Finally, Governor Sanford's most bizarre behavior may have actually occurred during his June "mea culpa" press conference. There, as you will recall, he confessed his adultery to the world! A public confession of adultery, in itself, is bizarre and ill-advised!

But wait, there's more!

Check out videos of the press conference on Youtube, or elsewhere. Note the two young women, (probably staffers), standing behind the Governor, as he spills his guts. To me, they appear to be trying not to snicker throughout his confession! Their giggling added to the odd episode. Surely, they must have realized that something strange was unfolding before their eyes! Put another way, these young women, like everyone else, must have been thinking: "I don't believe I would have said what he just said!")

But there's still one more lesson to be learned!

If you listen to nothing else I ever say again, please listen to the following lesson, (and, in my opinion, this mistake made by the Governor, aside from the affair itself, is perhaps the worst mistake and most bizarre thing he has said or done). That lesson is: If you ever feel compelled to confess adultery to the world, (and as a divorce lawyer, I certainly wouldn't recommend such a confession!), PLEASE NEVER, EVER TELL THE WORLD THAT YOUR LOVER IS STILL YOUR SOULMATE!!

Because when you do, you might as well grab your checkbook and ask your spouse how many extra zeroes does she want you to add to the divorce settlement check!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Celebrity Divorces: Michael Jordan

Unfortunately, Tiger Woods is not the only sports legend who has experienced "domestic issues." You may recall that, just a few years ago, Michael Jordan, who is, arguably, the greatest basketball player, (or perhaps simply the greatest athlete), of all time, went through one of the costliest divorces in history. According to Wikipedia, Jordan's divorce settlement, in 2006, reportedly cost him $168 million.

Of course, we can hope that Tiger Woods won't end up on the same path as Jordan. But such cases illustrate that no one, not even a great athlete, is immune against "domestic issues."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Child Custody: A Few Tips On How To Win a Child Custody Battle

Recently, I have received an inquiry concerning whether we have any suggested tips on how to get child custody. First of all, before addressing this question, please let me emphasize that each situation is different. It is therefore critical that you consult with your own divorce, (or child custody), lawyer about the law and facts in your specific case. In addition, because each situation is different, you should never rely on any legal information, (including blog tips or other internet sources)--other than your own divorce attorney's advice--in making decisions, including important decisions involving child custody.

Also, as I have indicated many times before, this blog about Georgia divorce law is offered simply as a public service concerning common issues in Georgia divorces. In other words, no attorney-client relationship is created through this blog and no legal advice is being offered--other than to recommend that you seek the advice and services of an experienced divorce attorney in your area for your case.

That being said, here are a few ideas, or tips, which you may find useful when you discuss this matter with your own divorce, or child custody, lawyer. If you plan to seek primary physical custody, then you and your attorney may want to discuss the following ideas, among others:

1. Do you have a good, well-developed child care plan? Whether you are a mother or a father seeking custody, the judge will want to see that you have a carefully developed plan to provide for your children and that you will put a good roof over their heads. For example, do you have a daycare plan in place for while you are at work? Also, if you work late, do you have a responsible family member or after-care center which will take care of your child?

2. Do you have any "good daddy" or "bad mommy" witnesses? Simply put, all this means is: have you considered which family members or friends could testify that you will make a "good mommy," or that "Sluggo" is a "bad daddy?" For instance, you (and your divorce attorney) may need good witnesses to support your claim that you have been the primary care-giver who has taken the kids to the doctor and helped them with their homework. And on the other side of the coin, you will want good witnesses who can testify that your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," is rarely at home and never spends time with the kids. I realize that these examples may sound harsh, but, in my opinion, if you want to get child custody, you (and your divorce attorney) need to be proactive and consider whether such witnesses exist who can help you win your child custody case.

3. Can you prove "Sluggo" is living in a meretricious relationship which would be harmful to the kids? (If you thought the last examples sounded harsh, then your eyes may be rolling back in your head about this example! But you may find this tip has merit!) If your spouse, (or the more likely scenario, your ex-spouse), is "shacking up" and "living in sin," then many conservative judges may consider its impact on your children, especially small children. As a result, it may mean that you (and your child custody lawyer) may decide that proving the existence of "Sluggo's" meretricious relationship may help you win your child custody battle!

Hopefully, you may find some of these practical tips about winning child custody cases to be useful when you consult with your own child custody lawyer! And maybe you can make "Sluggo" repent from "living in sin," too!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Divorce, Death, or Annulment

Generally speaking, there are only three ways to get out of a marriage in Georgia: Divorce, death, or annulment. You know about the first two ways, so, today, let's talk a little bit about annulment.

As divorce lawyers in Augusta, Georgia, we often get telephone calls from people who are inquiring about annulment as an alternative to divorce. However, generally, annulment is a very limited option and a simple, uncontested divorce is a more viable alternative for most people.

The reasons are quite simple. Generally, to get a marriage annulled in Georgia, there must either have been fraud at the marriage's inception, (e.g. your worthless spouse, "Sluggo" forgot to tell you that he was already married), or you must have been underage when you got hitched. To make things even more difficult about annulment, if you have children of the marriage, then annulment is unavailable as an alternative and you have no choice but to seek a divorce.

But even though annulment is not a very good alternative for most couples, at least they can still get a divorce, and that's much better than the third alternative of dying, don't you agree?!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Divorce: "Prenups" and "Renups!"

This is not a celebrity gossip blog. And I am not here today to debate all the salacious issues in the ongoing Tiger Woods saga! Frankly, at this point, I wish the media would just leave this couple alone to work out their marital problems. Of course, that is unlikely to occur, isn't it?

But in today's post, I wanted simply to point out that the Tiger Woods "situation" has promoted the use of a new word in the English language: a "renup!" (Post-nups have been around for a while, but a "renup" is a little different)!

Everyone has heard of the word "prenup," which is short for prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement refers to a pre-marital contract which allows a wealthy suitor to protect their fortune by limiting the amount of alimony, (or property division), which the poorer spouse can claim in the event of a divorce. (I've never figured out exactly how you would raise the idea of a prenup with your sweetheart prior to proposing marriage! Talk about killing the romance!) But from now on, after the Tiger Woods saga, everyone will also be talking about "renups," or renuptial agreements, which will refer to a prenuptial, or postnup, agreement which is re-negotiated by an aggrieved spouse after "Sluggo" has been caught "up to no good!" I suspect most wealthy men will, if given a choice, select a "renup," over a "post-snip!"

Not much good exists in the Tiger Woods situation. But I guess drafting "renups" will at least give some celebrity divorce lawyers greater job security!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Divorce Movies: Kramer v. Kramer

What is the most famous movie about divorce? I would nominate "Kramer v. Kramer," as the top, quintessential American movie about divorce. The movie, starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, premiered thirty years ago, in 1979. It won Best Picture and both stars won Oscars!

A number of important issues concerning divorce were addressed in this flick. For example, you may recall that Hoffman's character, who began the movie as a hard-working, over-achieving executive, was required to learn how to become a good father when his wife, played by Ms. Streep's character, left him and their son. Her character was also a good illustration of how some wives and mothers sometimes justifiably feel neglected in, or unfairly relegated to, their roles. The movie also illustrates the difficulties faced by parents who both seek child custody. Finally, perhaps it was also the first movie which addressed the issue of whether fathers should ever be considered as good candidates for child custody.

In addition to presenting all these divorce issues, it simply is a good movie! Have you seen it? What did you think? Do you have any other nominations for good movies about divorce?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ban All Divorces: What Do You Think?

Have you heard the news? Divorce may be outlawed! Well, not really! A guy in California is collecting signatures in a futile attempt to get on next year's ballot a proposition to abolish divorce in California! Of course, it will never pass! And it is also reported that this is merely a satirical reaction to last year's Proposition 8 vote in California against gay marriage. Supporters of this new initiative are apparently just trying to get attention and cynically to make a point that, if traditional marriage is so sacred, then let's protect it by outlawing divorce.

Can you imagine the problems that would ensue if divorce really was abolished? While some may argue that the high divorce rate in our society is terrible, don't you agree that it would be even more terrible if spouses were required to stay in abusive marriages? And how would you feel if you were required to stay in a marriage to "Sluggo," if he is committing adultery? What do you think?

As for me, here's one vote against this new initiative if anyone ever raises it in my state!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Military Divorce

Because we are located near Fort Gordon, a military base located near Augusta, Georgia, the Goolsby Law Firm, LLC handles a fairly large number of military divorce cases. Although the Georgia residency requirements may vary a bit for military members, and while there are some other differences, by and large, handling a military divorce case is very similar to handling any other (civilian) divorce case. In other words, military people, (and their spouses), grapple with the same divorce issues as anyone else, including issues involving child custody, child visitation, child support, alimony, adultery, cruel treatment, and everything else under the sun.
This week, the Pentagon has released information reflecting that the divorce rate for members of the United States military has gone up, from 3.4 per cent last year to 3.6 per cent this year. That translates to approximately 27,312 divorces per year out of approximately 765,000 members of the military.
So, like everyone else, many military members, (and their spouses), are getting divorced, too. And it is clear that they face the same stressors on their marriages as everyone else. But, in addition, they also must often deal with separation from their loved ones which can add stress and other problems, too.
The bottom line is that people in the military have helped protect us and they deserve to be protected and helped by divorce lawyers when they face divorce and other problems, too!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

From our family, (at The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC), to your family: Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Divorce: Do I Have To Go To Court?

As Augusta, Georgia divorce lawyers, we are often asked by prospective divorce clients, "Do I have to go to court?" The answer is: It depends! (Don't you like crisp, clear "lawyerly" answers like this?!) More specifically, it will likely depend upon whether you are getting an uncontested or contested divorce.
1. UNCONTESTED DIVORCE: If you and your spouse are getting an uncontested divorce, then you probably won't be required to physically go to court. In other words, as part of the uncontested divorce documents, your divorce attorney will prepare a document whereby the other party will essentially sign and agree that your Georgia divorce case can be disposed of without your having to go to a court hearing. Of course, it is always possible that the court may have some questions about your case and require a hearing, even with an uncontested divorce. And naturally, you will need to discuss each of these issues with your own divorce attorney.
2. CONTESTED DIVORCE: However, if it is a contested divorce, then both parties WILL be required to go to court, several times, including, at a minimum, the temporary hearing, (or thirty day conference), and a final hearing. Again, you need to discuss with your own divorce lawyer what will occur at each of these hearings and how you will need to be prepared for court.
The bottom line is: If you are getting an uncontested divorce, you may not have to go to court, (in Georgia), but, if it is contested, you almost definitely will be required to go to court, unless you quickly settle your case.
So, see ya in court, (or not)!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Celebrity Divorces: Tina Turner

How many of you are old enough to remember the much publicized divorce between legendary singer and entertainer, Tina Turner, and husband, Ike Turner, back in 1977? You might recall that, back then, Ms. Turner came forward and accused Mr. Turner of spousal abuse. You can read all about the divorce in her book. But the point here is that the divorce and abuse didn't slow down Tina Turner! (Nor should it slow you down!) And her career is still going strong. Perhaps it is fitting to include a post about her, and celebrate her accomplishments, including her many successes after her divorce, as she approaches her 70th birthday, this week, on November 26th.
Please feel free to visit her fan sites and, if you wish, listen to her music on her birthday. And here's hoping that the "big wheel" will "keep on turning" and that "proud Mary" will "keep on burning!"

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Divorce Parties

Have you heard about the latest divorce fad? It's divorce parties! Believe it or not, divorce parties are reportedly one of the fastest growing types of "theme parties!" Also, naturally, Las Vegas is quickly becoming known as the "divorce party capital of the world!" And one company actually even sells "divorce coffins" in which you can symbolically place a ring and then bury it.
Every situation is different. I would imagine that, in most cases, if you have just gone through an adversarial, bruising divorce over child custody, equitable property division, or other tough divorce issues, then you probably don't feel like having a party. And most folks simply cannot afford a lavish party, after a divorce, even if they felt like it. So, let's be honest: in most cases, for most people, divorce is no laughing matter and no time to party.
But isn't it interesting to see how different people react to life's hard blows? And it is interesting, in my opinion, to see that at least some people are heading to Las Vegas and other locations to party and celebrate their new beginnings. How about you? Do you know anyone who has had a "divorce party?" What do you think about it?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Divorce "Tip of the Day:" Who Gets To Claim the Children as Dependents?

Did you realize that there are other issues involving children, in a divorce, besides child custody, child visitation, and child support, which you need to discuss with your divorce attorney?

The tip for today involves who gets to claim the kids as dependents. In other words, while you are planning your divorce from your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," you might want to consider who should get to claim your children as dependents on your income tax returns. Now, this is not a tax advice blog and you should, of course, consult with your attorney and/or accountant before doing anything. Also, generally, the party who has primary physical custody and provides most of the support for the children will likely be entitled to claim the kids. But here are at least a few ideas for you to consider when negotiating a settlement agreement with Sluggo over who gets to claim the kids on their tax returns. In other words, this is often a negotiable matter.

As divorce lawyers, we have seen some clients elect, in the settlement agreement, to take all the kids as their own dependents. Others, when there are two or more children, may negotiate to let each party take at least one child as a dependent. (It would be to your advantage to take the youngest child as your dependent, so you will get to take the deduction/exemption longer).

Finally, one other idea for you to consider, in cases in which one party makes significantly more money than the other party, is for the party making the most money to get all the dependants, but provided you both agree in the settlement agreement to split the amount realized.

So, you see, this is another topic involving children, which you might not have thought of, and which you need to discuss with your divorce attorney!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Longest Lasting Marriages

This blog focuses on Georgia divorce law, but I thought it might be fun to give you a few interesting facts about long-lasting marriages, too!
According to Wikipedia, the current, living, record-holding couple for the longest lasting marriage lives in India. Incredibly, this couple, the Thomases, have lived together for more than 86 years! But a number of other couples around the world are not far behind. Wikipedia lists 37 couples who have been married for at least 80 years! Even though we are divorce lawyers, here's hoping that these marriages will last!
Do you know of any marriages which have lasted a long time? What were the secrets to their success?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Divorce Rates Around the World

How does the divorce rate in your country compare with the divorce rate in other parts of the world? It should come as no surprise that the United States is among the divorce "leaders" with approximately 40% of all marriages ending in divorce, according to Wikipedia.

But Wikipedia has some other interesting facts, too. For example, in Europe, the divorce rates vary widely, from Belgium, which has a divorce rate of 2.9 per 1000, to Italy, with a rate of only 0.7 per 1000. This raises the question: Have folks in Italy discovered how to keep the romance alive, or are they just staying in bad marriages? What do you think?

But then you need to consider the divorce rates in India and Sri Lanka where, incredibly, according to Wikipedia, only one to one and a half per 1000 marriages end in divorce! What do you think are the reasons for these wide disparities in divorce rates from country to country?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Divorce and Condonation of Adultery

As the old saying, (attributed to Pope), goes, "To err is human; to forgive divine." Well, folks, this ain't always so!

In most contexts, "condonation," which means pardon or forgiveness, is a good thing. But depending on which side you are on, it's not necessarily a good thing in a Georgia divorce!

For example, let's assume that your divorce lawyer has alleged that your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," has been cheating on you. But let's also assume the evidence shows that, after learning about the adultery, you essentially forgave Sluggo and continued to cohabit with him for a while, before deciding to give him the boot. While every situation is different, (and while you must consult with your own divorce attorney about this issue), Georgia law may provide that, due to your condonation, you have waived or given up the possibility of using the adultery against Sluggo.

So, the bottom line is that, in my opinion, you should consult with a divorce attorney and discuss the legal consequences before you condone an adultery. To forgive Sluggo's adultery prematurely may not be so divine after all!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Divorce and A Fair to Remember in Paris!

Did you read the title to this post incorrectly? Did you initially think it read "Divorce and Affairs to Remember in Paris?!" Well, I hate to disappoint you, but this post deals with the reported divorce fairs, (not "affairs!"), now being held in Paris, France!
It appears that the French, who, like us, have seen their own divorce rates sky rocket, from about 50,000 divorces three decades ago, to 130,000 divorces in 2007, have decided to capitalize on the situation by conducting a "divorce fair." At the fair, over sixty booths feature counselors, lawyers, self esteem coaches, and others, even tarot card readers--all focused on helping people deal with divorce-related issues.
So, fairs aren't just about ferris wheels and cotton candy any more! Also, "a fair" has a far different meaning from "affair!" Maybe you should all visit Paris and have your cards read, too, while you are there! Who knows what else might happen in Paris! And please don't forget to visit us, too, at The Goolsby Law Firm Georgia divorce lawyers' booth, located near the Eiffel Tower!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Celebrity Divorces: Zsa Zsa Gabor

No blog about divorce law would be complete without at least one post dedicated to celebrity divorcee and actress, Zsa Zsa Gabor.

According to Wikipedia, Ms. Gabor, who is presently 92 years old, has been married nine times and divorced seven times, (with one marriage being annulled).

I have always enjoyed the popular, funny quote attributed by many to Ms. Gabor:
"I'm a marvelous housekeeper. Whenever I get divorced, I keep the house!"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Celebrity Divorces: Jim Nantz

So, do you think your divorce went badly? Were you "taken to the cleaners?" I guess everything is relative.

For instance, consider the reported divorce case of great American sportscaster Jim Nantz. According to published news reports, a Connecticutt divorce judge has ordered Nantz, among other things, to pay his wife of 26 years a whopping $916,000.00 per year in alimony and child support. Fortunately for Nantz, who is 50, the judge also reportedly ruled that the Nantz divorce was not caused by his alleged dating a 29 year old woman before the divorce was final. This divorce order may sound excessive. But again, everything is relative. According to Wikipedia, the well-to-do Nantz makes in excess of $4 million per year!

So, even if you believe Nantz was "taken to the cleaners," you should still recognize that he can still afford to buy a few dry cleaners, too!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Divorce and Name Changes

Here's some happy news for those of you considering a divorce! Do you like freebies? Well, here's one for you to consider! Did you know that, when you get a divorce in Georgia, your divorce attorney can ask the judge, in the divorce pleadings, to restore either your maiden name, or another prior name, at no additional cost to you? Isn't that great?! This divorce "freebie" is in addition to the free "extra divorce" you are getting from your mother-in-law!

Of course, if you have children, you may decide not to go back to your maiden name. In other words, you may choose to keep the same last name as your kids. Also, you may not want the hassle of having to go to Social Security or the Department of Motor Vehicles to change your last name. But the point is: it is up to you to decide this!

So, after your divorce is final, you will no longer have to see your mother-in-law and you no longer have to be called "Mrs. Sluggo!" Life doesn't get much better than this, does it?!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Divorce and Counterclaims

Did you know that, in Georgia, if your spouse, "Sluggo," sues you for divorce, you can "slap" him back with a counterclaim for divorce? You might wonder why would you ask your divorce lawyer to do this!

There are several reasons to file a counterclaim for divorce. For instance, if Sluggo elects to dismiss his divorce lawsuit, but you still want to get the divorce, then, if your divorce attorney has already filed a counterclaim, you may be able to go forward and get it done without starting all over again!

Also, while Sluggo may simply contend the marriage is "irretrievably broken," your divorce lawyer may need to counterclaim to raise different grounds for the divorce. At trial, you may be entitled to get a divorce in your favor on your own alleged grounds.

So, you now can see that if Sluggo "slaps" you, (in the legal sense!), with a divorce complaint, it may likely be to your advantage to have your own divorce lawyer "slap" him back with a counterclaim! But please don't also use hockey sticks, as in the Paul Newman movie!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Divorce and Permanent Alimony

Why is there a photograph of a boat in a blog about divorce? I'll explain below! First, let's talk a little bit more about money, or permanent alimony in Georgia, to be more specific! Did you know that, under Georgia law, (O.C.G.A. 19-6-4), permanent alimony may be granted:

(1) In cases of divorce;

(2) In cases of voluntary separation; or

(3) Where one spouse, against the will of that spouse, is abandoned or driven off by the other spouse.

You also need to discuss with your Georgia divorce lawyer the fact that an award of permanent alimony may be enforced either by a contempt action, or by writ of fieri facias. This writ is a fancy latin term, more commonly known as a "fi fa," which means that you may be authorized to ask the sheriff to seize and sell some of the personal property of your worthless spouse "Sluggo" to satisfy your award of alimony, if he refuses to pay.

So, this is where the photo of the boat comes into play! You may, in some circumstances, be able to ask your divorce attorney to get the sheriff to seize Sluggo's boat to collect on your alimony!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Divorce and Temporary Alimony

Let's talk about money today! More specifically, let's discuss temporary alimony. Most people think of alimony as spousal support which begins following the divorce. But did you know that, at least under Georgia law, (O.C.G.A. 19-6-3), either party to a divorce may also apply for temporary alimony while the divorce action is pending. If you seek temporary alimony from "Sluggo," the judge will consider the "peculiar necessities" of each party and whether the petitioner has sufficient independent funds to get by. In other words, if you are as wealthy as Oprah or Martha Stewart, you are less likely to get temporary alimony!

At the hearing on the application for temporary alimony, a Georgia judge will not get into the merits of the divorce case, but he or she may inquire into the cause and circumstances of the separation rendering alimony necessary. So, if you ran off to gamble and lost your shirt in Las Vegas, you would probably have a weak argument for temporary alimony.

You should also know that, generally speaking, Georgia law gives a trial judge a lot of discretion in deciding whether or not to grant temporary alimony, (and how much). So, if you are like most people, you probably need it, and you should therefore be sure to discuss it with your divorce attorney.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Divorce "Joke of the Day!"

Okay, since we have had several "serious" posts in a row, I think it's time for.....[drum roll].....another Divorce "Joke of the Day!" (Look, as a divorce lawyer in Augusta, Georgia, I fully realize that divorce is not a joking matter. But please understand that, while we are attempting here, as a public service, to provide some helpful information and ideas about Georgia divorce for you to consider and discuss with your divorce attorney, I also want to try to make this dry topic a little bit more interesting and keep you coming back!) So, here goes.........

"Sluggo's" wife noticed that "Sluggo" kept staring at their marriage license and finally she asked him why.

"Sluggo" replied, "I'm just looking for the expiration date!"

Okay, okay, maybe you'd prefer going back to the serious posts about divorce law!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Divorce: Getting "Sluggo" to Pay for College

One question which we, (as Augusta, Georgia divorce lawyers), often get asked is: "Can I get the judge to make my spouse, "Sluggo," pay for the kids' college expenses?
The simple, unfortunate answer we generally must give is, "No." In other words, in Georgia, after the children turn eighteen, the non-custodial spouse is generally off the hook for court-ordered child support. But there still may be hope!
In other words, even though a judge may not order "Sluggo" to pay for the kids' college expenses, it is important for you to remember that this is a matter which you can raise with your divorce attorney and, with your divorce attorney's help, it can be negotiated and potentially included as part of a settlement agreement. So, don't give up on the idea. Instead, please just raise and discuss the idea with your divorce lawyer.
And please also don't forget that you should also discuss with your divorce attorney the idea of negotiating for spousal support, too, so that you, too, can afford to join your child at the University of Georgia!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Divorce and How To prove Adultery

In the last post, we discussed, (or at least I discussed and hopefully you listened!), how NOT to prove adultery. In other words, the last post dealt with problems to avoid, (such as illegally wiretapping "Sluggo's" telephone, or hacking into his computer), while trying to prove his infidelity. One of the primary points made was that you should always consult with a divorce lawyer in your area BEFORE you attempt to prove adultery.

But in this post, let's look at the issue another way: How can you prove adultery? Again, let me re-emphasize that you must talk with your divorce attorney BEFORE you "try this at home!" But here goes:

1. Get his cell phone records: If you cannot get them legitimately yourself, then your divorce lawyer should be able to subpoena them. If "Sluggo" has been talking with his new lover, "Brunhilda," then his cell phone records should give them away!

2. Get his emails: This may be difficult to accomplish, if you do not have legitimate access, but, if you do, then naturally it would be a great source of information!

3. Talk with "Sluggo's" friends or co-workers: Of course, if they are "Sluggo's" loyal friends, then they aren't likely to tell you much. But you never know until you ask.

4. Check his Facebook or other social internet networking sites: In this blog, we have warned you before about the risks that married people face by visiting popular social websites, such as Facebook or E-Harmony, before the ink is dry on their final divorce decree! But since "Sluggo" may not be so bright, then you might want to check and see if he is already "looking for love in all the wrong places!"

5. Hire a Private Investigator: Just as with each of these other ideas, you will need to carefully discuss this option with your divorce attorney. In my opinion, you and your lawyer should generally consider this option only if you have specific leads or information about "Sluggo" meeting with another lover. If you have no leads, then you may be wasting a couple of thousand dollars, or more, by paying an investigator to simply watch a house. But talk it over with your lawyer! If this idea works, then you may have just the proof you need that "Sluggo" has been "up to no good!"

Friday, October 9, 2009

Divorce and How NOT to Prove Adultery

This blog gets a lot of hits on the internet from folks looking for information about how to prove adultery. Sometimes, I wonder if adultery is like an epidemic, spreading faster than Georgia cudzu, or the swine flu, (oops, sorry, I meant the H1N1 flu!). We have touched on this topic, (that is, adultery, not cudzu or H1N1 flu!), a little bit before, and, no doubt, we will do so again. But I thought it might also be helpful to talk with you some about how NOT to try to prove adultery! Here are some ideas:

1. Thou shalt NOT hack into "Sluggo's" computer: Hacking into someone else's computer would most probably not only be illegal, but also the information you obtain would likely not be admissible in your divorce case. So, even if find pictures of your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," in the arms of "Brunhilda," the "other woman," it won't do you any good, if you break the law. On the other hand, if it is a family computer to which you have equal access, then you should discuss with your divorce lawyer about the advisability of legitimately getting the pictures of "Sluggo" snuggling with "Brunhilda."

2. Thou shalt NOT record "Sluggo's" telephone calls with others: This could also very well constitute a crime and the results of the telephone calls would not be admissible in your divorce case either! So, simply put, don't do it! Now, in some jurisdictions, including Georgia, it may be legal and permissible for you to record your OWN telephone conversations with another person. But it is critically important for you to discuss these "neat ideas" with a divorce lawyer in your state before you attempt to do any of them!

The bottom line is that, in your haste to prove "Sluggo's" infidelity, if you fail to first obtain your divorce attorney's advice, you could be getting into serious trouble and jeopardizing any hope of success in your divorce!

So, to all of you "out there" searching the internet for the truth about how (NOT) to prove adultery, I hope this post helps!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Divorce "Joke of the Day!"

As a public service, we want to give you all some practical tips and information about divorce law in Georgia. But we also try to make this dry subject a little bit entertaining, too!

So, after several "serious" posts about divorce lawyers, I am sure that you are all just waiting and hoping for a funny divorce "joke of the day," aren't you?! Well, here you go:

What do you call the divorce, or split-up, of two "not so bright" people?..............A "duh-vorce!"

I know, I know, some of you are probably saying, "We were ready and we are still waiting for a funny divorce "joke of the day!"

And the rest of you are saying: "If you want to be a stand-up comic, don't give up your day job as a divorce lawyer!"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Divorce "Tip of the Day:" Ways Your Divorce Lawyer Can Help Make Your Appointments More Productive

In the last post, we discussed how YOU, the client, can help make your appointments with your divorce attorney more productive. And yes, I promised in that post to write another one addressing how WE, the divorce lawyers, can help you, too! So, here goes:

1. Lawyers Can Be Prompt, Too: Don't you always hate it when you make an appointment with a professional person and then have to wait forever to see them?! We, at The Goolsby Law Firm, realize that YOUR time is valuable, too. As a result, we endeavor to promptly meet with you at, or very near, your appointment time!

2. Be Prepared: Just as the divorce client must do their homework and be prepared when they meet with their divorce attorney, it is equally important that the attorney be prepared, too! For instance, the divorce attorney should have all your divorce documents ready for your review when you walk in the door!

3. Be Patient: A good divorce lawyer will also be patient and carefully listen to all your questions about your divorce. This is a stressful time in your life. Also, this may be your first divorce experience. So, even though your divorce lawyer may be busy and not want to have other clients waiting, (see Number 1 above!), he or she must also realize that you deserve their full time and attention, too!

4. Be Sensitive: In the final analysis, don't you agree that the bottom line is that divorce lawyers need to be more sensitive to their clients' needs? As a divorce lawyer, I can tell you that it can be difficult, at times, not to get desensitized to all the problems inherent in handling contested divorces, especially difficult divorce cases involving child custody. But it is critical, in my opinion, that divorce attorneys must remember that you are going through a hard time and that you do not need, or deserve, a cold, uncaring advocate!

What do you think? Do you have any gripes about lawyers? Go ahead and voice your opinion here!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Divorce "Tip of the Day:" Ways You Can Help Your Divorce Lawyer

In this blog about divorce in Georgia, we always try to give you some practical tips or helpful ideas to consider in your divorce. Here are a few tips on how to make your appointments with your divorce attorney run more efficiently and productive:

1. First of all, keep your appointments! In other words, if you have a scheduled appointment, then keep it, and, if you must cancel, please call early to cancel it. As a divorce lawyer, I never cease to be amazed at how many people simply stand us up! So, please keep your appointments, or please call and cancel whenever possible!

2. Be prompt! Just as people sometimes are "no shows," you would also be amazed at how many people are often late for appointments! Naturally, sometimes there are good reasons for being late. But please always try to be on time, or early, whenever possible!

3. Be organized. Please plan beforehand exactly what documents you are supposed to bring to your appointment and do your "homework" ahead of time!

4. Write down your questions in advance (and bring them with you). This will also help make your meeting with your divorce lawyer run more efficiently.

5. Maintain your timeline or journal. Here, at The Goolsby Law Firm, we generally ask all our clients to keep and maintain a journal of all contacts with their worthless spouse, "Sluggo." This will not only help your meetings with your divorce attorney run more smoothly, but also it will help you and your attorney be better prepared when you go to court!

I hope these tips help someone "out there!" And I know some of you may be thinking: "Goolsby has all these great ideas for how clients can help their lawyers, but has he considered how lawyers can better help their clients?"

Do you have any ideas? I promise that, in a future post, I will address how lawyers can be more helpful to their clients!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Child Custody: Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody

Did you know that, under Georgia law, when you are considering the issue of child custody during a divorce, it is important for you to know the difference between legal custody and physical custody?
Legal custody refers to who gets to decide your child's "legal" issues: e.g. which doctor your kid sees, where your child goes to school, and which church your child attends. On the other hand, physical custody generally involves with which parent will the child primarily "physically" live. In many divorces, a party may have more bargaining flexibility as to legal custody than physical custody. In other words, even though you may want to fight for physical custody, you may be willing to allow your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," to have joint legal custody, (provided you are the final decision maker). Let me explain what this means.
While every situation is different, for many couples going through a divorce, you may choose to allow your spouse, "Sluggo," to have joint legal custody, provided you get to be the final decision maker, in the event of any disagreements about medical, education, or religious issues. In other words, provided you are the final decision maker, you aren't really giving much up, are you? By agreeing to joint legal custody, you are essentially just allowing "Sluggo" to feel better because he gets to have some input and access to school or health information, but, provided you are final decision maker, you would still generally get to make all the important (final) decisions concerning legal issues affecting your child's life. That is why you may be willing to bargain and possibly allow "Sluggo" to have joint legal custody, (with you as final decision maker).
However, you may still choose to draw the line by insisting on being designated the primary physical custodian, in the settlement agreement. Again, the spouse who has primary physical custody is the one with whom the child generally lives, and the one who most likely will get child support.
Again, every situation and every divorce is different. So, it is important for you to discuss your situation, and child custody issues, with your divorce lawyer. But I hope you now see some of the important distinctions between legal custody and primary physical custody! Now, let's just hope "Sluggo" doesn't read this blog, too!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Divorce "Tip of the Day:" Where to Find Answers to Your Questions About Divorce Law

Have you searched everywhere, unsuccessfully, for answers to your questions about divorce law? Well, here is an idea! Assuming you cannot find your answer in this blog about divorce law in Georgia, or from any other source, you might consider going online to findlaw, Avvo, or attorney There, you will be prompted to enter your city and state, and the type of legal problem or case. Now, you are almost home! This search should yield a number of divorce lawyers in your city and state who can help you with your specific type of legal question!

But here is one more good idea for you to consider: Scan this online list of attorneys and consider calling the law firms which offer, (as we do at The Goolsby Law Firm), a "free initial consultation."

There, I hope this idea helps and that you all get answers to your questions! But no matter where you go, no one will ever be able to answer the burning question of our time: Why is "Sluggo," your worthless spouse, so worthless?!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reasons Why People Divorce

What are the most common reasons why people divorce? I have read a large number of articles about why people divorce. Also, as a divorce lawyer in Augusta, Georgia, I have seen numerous reasons offered by folks who are going through a divorce. The only conclusion that I can draw is that there are as many stars in the sky as there are reasons for divorce!

But what would YOU guess are the primary reasons for divorce? Is it money problems? Lack of communication? Infidelity? Sexual problems? Spousal abuse? Addiction problems? "Sluggo" eating the last piece of pie?!

I would guess money problems as being the leading reason for divorce, but that is just a guess. Again, what is your opinion about the leading cause of divorce? Have you ever heard of any unusual reasons?

Fortunately, if you live in Georgia, you do not have to have a good reason to get a divorce. You must simply allege and show that the marriage is "irretrievably broken," no matter what your reasons are -- good or bad.

So, if you live in Georgia, and you are tired of being married to your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," then all you need to know is that you don't have to have a good reason to dump him! You can just retain a divorce attorney and dump him! Of course, knowing good ole' Sluggo, you would probably have a thousand good reasons to divorce him!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Divorce and Attorney's Fees

You might be wondering: Can I make my worthless spouse, "Sluggo," pay for my divorce attorney's fees, as well as his own divorce lawyer's fees, too?

In Georgia, the simple answer is....maybe! (How about that for a lawyer's answer?!) Generally, Georgia law provides, (in O.C.G.A. 19-6-2), that a grant of attorney's fees as a part of the expenses of litigation may be awarded, "within the sound discretion of the court." The court will consider the financial circumstances of both parties in making this determination, along with deciding the amount of attorney's fees to be awarded.

The bottom line is that getting attorney's fees might be possible in some cases, (especially, for example, if the other party has a much greater income, or if you can prove some fault grounds, such as adultery). But don't count on it. Again, this is another important question to raise and discuss with your own divorce attorney. You will also need to keep in mind that, even if the judge grants attorney fees, it may not be nearly enough to cover your entire bill, (especially if you have retained Perry Mason)! Also, you need to keep in mind that, if ole' Sluggo is really worthless and broke, since you can't squeeze blood out of a turnip, then you may still be on the hook for it anyway.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Adultery: What Cheating Can Cost you!

As the old saying goes, "cheaters never win." It is true in sports and it is true in marriage and divorce, too!

Let's talk a little bit about the some of the practical consequences of adultery, if you get caught. Did you know, for example, that, if you get caught cheating, it can cost you any chance of getting alimony? According to Georgia's divorce law, (O.C.G.A. 19-6-1), a party in a divorce case is NOT entitled to alimony if it is established by a preponderance of the evidence that the separation between the parties was caused by that party's adultery or desertion. What this means, folks, is that even though your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," may have become about as romantic as a cold, limp dish rag, you had better not get caught running around on him if you want any chance at getting alimony! And you shouldn't desert him, or run off, either, according to Georgia law!

There are other potential consequences of cheating, too! For instance, although adultery, per se, may not be directly relevant to child custody, there is a possibility that, if you get caught partying around with another man, especially if you have "sleep overs" while the kids are present in the home, it might cost you custody of your children, too!

So, please just hold your horses until your divorce is final! Again, it's not my goal to "preach" at you, about cheating or anything else. I simply want to give you some practical information and tips to consider! As always, you should check with an attorney in your area about the consequences of adultery. I am not licensed in other states and I have no clue about what is okay to do in California!

And can I give you one more bit of practical advice? Please be honest with your divorce attorney! If you have been running around on ole' "Sluggo," then you should openly tell your lawyer, so that you can best determine together how to legitimately address these issues!

And one more thing... I bet I don't even have to tell you that you should NOT tell "Sluggo," if you have been "up to no good!"

Friday, September 25, 2009

How Divorce is Like a Two-For-One Sale!

Did you ever realize that, when you pay your divorce lawyer for a divorce from your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," you are also getting a divorce, at NO EXTRA COST, from your mother in law?! Wow! Now you realize: What a bargain!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This Divorce Law Blog: Why We Are Here And Why We Ain't!

Most of the comments about this blog are kind and complimentary! The blogosphere is filled with some incredibly nice folks! However, I have received a few comments and emails, from time to time, in which we are taken to task for not promoting marriage more in this divorce law blog. Well, here is my attempt to respond to such critics! Here is what we are and here is what we ain't!
This is a blog which primarily focuses on Georgia divorce law. We are a father and son law practice located in Augusta, Georgia. Actually, our family law firm is located in nearby Martinez, Georgia, (in Columbia County), a suburb located near Augusta. I left a career as a federal prosecutor in order to go into private law practice with my oldest son. The federal prosecutor is now a divorce lawyer and a defense lawyer! In addition to handling divorce and child custody cases, we also handle some personal injury and criminal defense cases, in both state and federal court. (I also have a second blog which focuses on white collar crime in Georgia!)
In this divorce law blog, our goal is fairly simple: we merely want to provide some helpful tips and practical advice about getting a divorce in Georgia. (I also work hard to try to make a dry subject as entertaining as possible!) We have no intention of encouraging anyone to get a divorce, but we also have no intention of promoting your "standing by your man," (good ole' "Sluggo"), either, especially when "Sluggo" is beating on you! Nor are we counselors or psychiatrists who can help you with such issues, and we certainly can't help you try to figure out, or shrink, "Sluggo's" head either!
Again, we just want to give you some practical things to consider, about Georgia divorce law, if YOU decide to get a divorce!
It is also important to emphasize that, while you may find useful information, or practical tips, in this divorce law blog, we also always carefully encourage each reader to consult with their own attorneys, wherever they live, about the law in their jurisdictions.
So, there you have it -- why we are here and why we ain't! So, please keep your comments, both good and bad, coming about this divorce law blog! But please don't send a comment about my grammar! Please know that I know that it ain't right to say "ain't!"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Living Together v. Marriage: Some Pros and Cons

Many Americans have always believed in "shacking up," as opposed to getting married. And the trend is presently away from marriage and toward "live-in" arrangements. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 5.5 million unmarried households in this country and, in 2005, unmarried households first started outnumbering married ones.

Now, I am not here to make moral judgments or to preach at you about what you should do. That is not the point of this humble blog about Georgia divorce law. You do as you choose to do!

But as a divorce lawyer in Augusta, Georgia, I just want you to consider some of the legal consequences of your decision! (You should also consult with a lawyer where you live about your rights). I am concerned about women who can get hurt, (legally), by live-in arrangements.

I often get telephone calls from women whose "live-in lovers" have left them and they don't know what to do. Frankly, there can be some tough legal issues for such women to address. For example, if you have chosen to live with "Sluggo," in a house he previously bought, then, if you never got married and you don't have a cohabitation agreement, then you may face the possibility of getting put out in the street. Also, you should consider the fact that, if you have kids with good old "Sluggo," (God forbid!), and you are not married, then, unless you take him to court through a paternity lawsuit, your kids are not legitimate and may not even be able to inherit from him. You also need to know that, at least in Georgia, common law marriage is no longer recognized, (at least for newer live-in relationships, since the latter 1990's), so it probably is no longer available to give you legal protection.

The list goes on and on! There are so many legal issues and problems faced by "live-in" lovers! There are tax issues, (you can't benefit from filing your tax returns together as a married couple), insurance issues, (you probably can't get on "Sluggo's" health insurance plan), and alimony issues, (if you break up, you aren't entitled to seek alimony or a property division).

I realize that there are some arguments in favor of shacking up, too! But the point here is that, before you get too starry eyed about moving in with that old romantic fool, "Sluggo," please just consider the legal consequences!

Maybe you should just get a nice dog instead!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Alimony: "The Bill You Get For the Thrill You Got!"

Lewis Grizzard, my favorite Southern humorist, wasn't immune from the divorce bug. But he had a special way of making even the topics of divorce and alimony funny! The hardest I ever laughed in my life was while watching Grizzard's stand-up act which he performed in an old tobacco barn in Moultrie, Georgia.
However, we all know that divorce and alimony are no laughing matter! You may need alimony, (or to avoid alimony), to survive. If you are contemplating a divorce, you should discuss this important issue with your divorce attorney. Do you know some of the factors that a Georgia court will consider in setting the amount of permanent alimony? The Georgia courts generally consider the needs of the parties and ability to pay. Among other factors, the court will consider, (as found in O.C.G.A. 19-6-5):
1. The standard of living established during the marriage;
2. The duration of the marriage;
3. The age and physical and emotional condition of both parties;
4. The financial resources of each party;
5. Where applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire education or job training;
6. The contribution of each party to the marriage, (e.g. homemaking, child care, contribution to
the education or career building of the other party; and
7. The condition of the parties, including any separate estate, earning capacity, and fixed
You may not have been aware of these factors, but I'll bet you were aware that, generally, the obligation to pay alimony stops when the recipient remarries.
Of course, Lewis Grizzard had another idea about alimony and remarriage. As Grizzard concluded, "I don't think I'll get married again. I'll just find a woman I don't like and give her a house!"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Divorce and Looking For Love!

Are you going through a divorce and hoping, one day, to again be looking for love? Do you need any inspiration? Well, look no further! Maybe you have already seen this dear lady's picture all over the news today! This 107 year old Malaysian woman, who has been married 22 times, indicates that if her current husband leaves her, as she reportedly expects, then she will definitely be looking for husband number 23!

So, even if you are going through a tough divorce, please just remember this story and know that there is always hope! Of course, after dealing with your divorce and divorce lawyers, you may instead decide to simply enjoy your freedom!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Celebrity Divorces: Groucho Marx

Hopefully, everyone still remembers the famous wise-cracking comedian, Groucho Marx, the star of Vaudeville and numerous movies with his brothers, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo, including "Animal Crackers," in 1930, and "Duck Soup," in 1933. He also went on to host a famous radio and t.v. quiz show called, "You Bet Your Life."

But did you know that Groucho Marx's marriages suffered the same fate as many celebrities? According to Wikipedia, Marx married and divorced three times. And did you know he had a penchant for younger women. When he married the last time in 1954, Marx was 63 and his wife was only 20, according to Wikipedia! As Marx concluded in one of his many famous quotes, "I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury!"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Contempt Motions: Document, But Do Not Deviate!

We have discussed before in this Georgia divorce law blog the importance of keeping a diary, or journal, of every time that your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," is mean to you, or does you dirty! Your divorce lawyer can possibly use that information to help you in your divorce. But this same tip also applies to potential contempt actions. In other words, "Young Grasshopper," it is wise for you to keep pen and paper handy AFTER your divorce, too!
Let's assume, for example, that your deadbeat ex, Sluggo, is running behind on making child support payments, or that he has otherwise failed to live up to your settlement agreement. What should you do?
First, you should contact your divorce attorney about filing a contempt action and taking good ole' Sluggo back before the judge.
But the point here is that, when you see your divorce lawyer, it will help if you have kept meticulous records, including dates and occurrences, of all of Sluggo's violations of the settlement agreement, or court order. In addition, in my opinion, you should rarely give permission to Sluggo to deviate from what the judge had ordered. It might be difficult for the judge to hold Sluggo in contempt for violating the order if you have permitted deviations and made his requirements less clearcut.
Finally, in my opinion, if Sluggo pays child support directly to you, then you should generally NEVER accept cash, (or give cash, if you are Sluggo!), in lieu of a check, as payment of child support or any other obligation. Again, the point is that it is important for you to be able to document everything if you must take your ex back to court and, at least in this one context, cash just doesn't cut it! Now, I realize that, in the real world, if you need the cash which Sluggo is waving around to buy groceries or diapers, then you may very well need to take it, but, even then, you should faithfully write down how much he gave you and when. And if ole' Sluggo had a brain, he would demand a written receipt, too!
Every situation is different. Please discuss your situation with your own divorce attorney. But if you ask me, I will generally tell you: Document, document, document...but do not deviate!