Sunday, August 30, 2009

Divorce Lawyers Need A Hug, Too!

It is no wonder that many of the lawyers I talk with here in Augusta, Georgia would not be caught dead handling divorce cases! I'll bet it's no different where you are, too! Practicing family law is just too stressful, according to many of my lawyer friends. Divorce is stressful for you, the client, but the point is that you should also understand it can be stressful for your divorce attorney, too!

Divorce attorneys generally attempt not to get too involved, emotionally, in your child custody issues and other divorce matters, (so that they can exercise the independent judgment that you need), but, frankly, such emotional detachment can be difficult to maintain. After all, lawyers are human, too, you know! And even if it's not the attorney's fault, for example, if the judge issues an order allowing unsupervised child visitation by your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," your attorney may still feel badly about it, too!

And dealing with the lawyer or their client, "Sluggo," on the other side, can also be a source of intense stress, as your lawyer fights hard to represent your interests in the divorce case. I've often teased that I face more physical danger as a divorce lawyer than I ever did before as a federal prosecutor!

In my opinion, of the best divorce attorneys I know, it takes a special kind of lawyer who is willing to fight hard in a contested divorce and yet can endure the stress that goes with it.

In conclusion, while there may be no great tips here, in this post, about how to win your divorce case, please simply take a moment and consider that your divorce lawyers are going through the stress of your divorce with you. So, hug a divorce lawyer today!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Divorce: Like a Tug of War!

Divorces can be like a tug of war. And I'll bet you have heard about some divorces getting down and dirty! In some cases, parties to a divorce have also been known to fight over relatively trivial issues, such as who will get custody of Spot, the family dog! (Of course, if we knew Spot, maybe we wouldn't believe it was so trivial!) But in other divorce cases, the issues are critically important and worth fighting for, such as battles to obtain child custody against an abusive spouse.

How do you decide which issues are worth fighting for? And how do you know when you should engage in the "tug of war" and when should you mediate or compromise? Honestly, it's impossible to say here. And frankly, I also believe it is important to emphasize that such decisions must ultimately be made by you, the client. No family member, divorce lawyer, or judge can make such important decisions for you. If possible, you should find some quiet time and carefully weigh what is important to you and where you must draw the lines. While you should also consult with an attorney about the pros and cons of fighting over each important issue, in the end, your divorce attorney will expect you to make the choices or decisions.

And every divorce is different. In other words, each case has its own unique set of facts. So, while your attorney may be able to give you good advice about what could happen in some situations, since your attorney does not have a crystal ball, he or she cannot predict or guarantee a result, if you decide to fight!

So, please carefully weigh and decide what is important to you, where you must draw the lines, and when you must engage in a tug of war!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

John Minus Kate Plus Eight: Do You Need to Know?

Okay, I have resisted the temptation, until now, to include a post on the now infamous Gosselin divorce! But this IS a divorce blog, so I have finally yielded to the temptation...sort of!
I believe there has been too much publicity about the Gosselin divorce. And I don't intend to rehash here questions about who you believe is at fault, or about whether or not you believe the kids are being mistreated by appearing on the t.v. show. (Personally, I don't believe the kids are being mistreated in any way by simply appearing on the show, or at least I believe the good appears to far outweigh the bad). But there always seems to be something new in the public eye about this ongoing divorce saga. And the press appears to be hounding this poor family.
The latest news is that reportedly John Gosselin no longer wants to appear on the show, (for which he and Kate reportedly receive $75,000 per episode), and that he wants to get a regular day job. Wow! Who could walk away from $75,000 per week? But I am sure he is just sick of all the publicity. (Do any of you know where I could get another "regular job" paying $75,000 per week?) Kate, on the other hand, apparently still wants to continue working on the show.
What do you think about this "new" development? And what did you think about reports that he was allegedly seeing another woman before the divorce is final? Do you really care? Or does anyone "out there" really care to know about any of these issues? I know that my inquiring mind does not want to know.
And just one more question: Even though this is a divorce blog, will it be okay with you all if we let this be the one and only obligatory post dealing with the Gosselin divorce and that we, from this point forward, agree to allow them to deal with their divorce in private?! Thank you!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Divorce Quiz No. 2: Celebrity Divorces--Most Expensive

The last time we had a celebrity divorce quiz, we dealt with which celebrity has had the most number of divorces. This time, the question of the day is: Which of the following celebrities divorces was the most expensive? (In other words, which of these celebrities paid the most to their spouse in order to settle their divorce?) Before you sneak a peak at the answers below, here are the celebrities randomly selected for this "quiz:"

(a) Rupert Murdoch; (b) Kenny Rogers; (c) Neil Diamond; (d) Harrison Ford; or (e) Michael Jordan?

Okay, here are the answers, counting down in order, from the "least expensive" celebrity divorce settlement to the "most expensive" divorce settlement, according to Wikipedia and numerous other sources:

5. Singer Kenny Rogers: $60 million (Kenny must "know when to fold 'em"--he got off the cheapest of this group of celebrities! On a trivia note, Kenny's ex-wife, Maryanne, was from one of my hometowns, Winterville, Georgia, where she and Kenny once also had a ranch/farm nearby);

4. Actor Harrison Ford: $118 million;

3. Singer Neil Diamond: $150 million;

2. Athlete Michael Jordan: $150 million; and

1. The "winner," or loser, of this celebrity divorce quiz, depending on how you look at it: Media Magnate Rupert Murdoch: $1.7 billion!

Now, don't these whopping divorce settlement figures make you feel different, (for better or for worse?!) about you own divorce settlement amount?!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Divorce Waiting Periods--What Do You Think?

In this blog, we attempt to provide some helpful tips and information about divorces, particularly in Georgia, (because Augusta, Georgia is where The Goolsby Law Firm, our father and son law practice, handles family law matters, along with criminal defense, personal injury, and other types of cases). If you are getting a divorce, you will need to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer in your own state and in your own community. But there are many divorce topics which are important for you to consider and learn more about, no matter where you are getting a divorce.
One important topic for you to learn more about is divorce waiting periods. In other words, does your state require you and your God-forsaken spouse, "Sluggo," to wait and live apart a certain length of time before you can "take him to the cleaners" and send him to legal oblivion?
Many states, including South Carolina and North Carolina, require long waiting periods before a divorce can be obtained. For instance, in South Carolina, there reportedly is a one year waiting period for many divorces. The theory behind the law in those states is that the waiting period causes couples, especially couples with children, to carefully consider the implications and costs of a divorce. It also represents an effort to "slow down" the escalating number of divorces in this country.
Fortunately, Georgia does not require a waiting period before you can file for a divorce, although an uncontested divorce petition must still wait 30 days in the clerk's office before it can be sent to a judge to sign a final divorce decree. And occasionally in the past in Georgia, some legislators
have attempted to introduce legislation mandating lengthy waiting periods, but the legislation has, thus far, never made it into law.
What do you think about waiting periods? Frankly, I don't agree with them. I look at all the abusive situations which some poor, unfortunate women must endure and I believe that dragging out the legal process only fosters additional costs and suffering, for them and their kids. Also, no one can convince me that mandating waiting period requirements will alter the divorce rate. And besides, if "Sluggo" looks bad enough to divorce him today, then I suspect "Sluggo" won't improve or look a whole lot better a year from now!
What do you think?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Adultery--How Much Proof is Really Necessary in a Georgia Divorce?

As the title of the book above suggests, adultery is commonplace in our society. Nobody has to convince you of that fact, do they? According to Wikipedia, studies have revealed that 10-15% of women and 20-25% of men admit to having "done it," and the Kinsey studies suggest the numbers who actually "do it" are probably higher. So, we all know it is reality, but the question remains: How do you prove your wayward spouse, "Sluggo," has been "up to no good?"
In a Georgia divorce, do you have to hire a private investigator to "hide in the bushes" and get pictures of "Sluggo" and his new, true love in flagranti? As a divorce lawyer, I would answer, "no," but, of course, I must add that I wouldn't turn down such clearcut evidence!
The truth is that, while each case is different, (and each case must be carefully analyzed by you and your divorce attorney), adultery in Georgia can sometimes be proven by circumstantial evidence, even if you don't catch them in the act. However, it is also important to point out that Georgia case law also indicates that if there are two interpretations to be drawn from the suspicious circumstances, then such evidence will be insufficient.
So, the bottom line is that, if you suspect "Sluggo" is running around on you, then you should carefully discuss the proof of infidelity with your divorce lawyer. You may need to hire a private investigator or otherwise shore up your proof. But the other bottom line is that, at least in Georgia, you don't necessarily have to catch "Sluggo" in the act in order to prove adultery!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Divorce "Joke of the Day!"

Which flower sounds the most like a divorcing spouse?..................................Begonia! [Be gone ya!]

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Proud Day At The Goolsby Law Firm!!!

This is a proud, happy day at our family law firm in Martinez, Georgia! You see, our family of lawyers will be getting bigger! Presently, The Goolsby Law Firm is composed of two lawyers, including me, Richard Goolsby, Sr., and our oldest son, Richard Goolsby, Jr., (a father and son attorney team). And now, we are proud to report that my second son, Blake, also begins the study of law today! Blake has three tough years of law school ahead of him, but we wish him much success and God speed! We know Blake will do well!

I realize that the prospect of new lawyers being released on the world may be a bit unsettling to some of you! But please allow a proud father to boast just a little here!

And don't think that's all the Goolsby lawyers in the works! Our youngest son, Zachary, a UGA undergraduate, also plans to go to law school in a couple of years, too! And I still tease our youngest child, and only daughter, that she should likewise go to law school, too, just like her three older brothers! But Haley may be the smartest of them all--she doesn't want to go to law school at all--instead, she wants to become a teacher!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Children of Divorce -- What Can Parents Do To Help?

Divorces are difficult on everyone involved. No doubt, we have all heard terrible stories about the negative emotional impact of a divorce on the parties’ children. But I believe it is also important to point out that, as many counselors appear to agree, the majority of children of divorce do not develop serious behavioral problems. In other words, children of divorce are generally resilient and can manage to deal with it, to some extent. But there still will be problems. However, don’t you agree that the parents should at least try to ameliorate the problems for their children? What can parents going through a divorce do to help their kids? Here are a few ideas:
I’m sure we will all agree that parents should talk openly with their kids, as age and circumstances permit, and let their children know they are loved;
Perhaps the parents should also consider talking with the kid’s teachers about the situation;
Parents may find family or individual counseling may also be necessary or helpful;
Parents can also learn more about the issue, including by reading books like the one above; and
Don’t you also agree that parents going through a divorce should avoid “bad mouthing” the other parent in front of the kids?
Have you dealt with this issue about children of divorce? Do any of you “out there” have any other ideas or suggestions for parents going through a divorce? And is it generally better, in your opinion, for parents to put their kids through an emotionally draining divorce rather than through a bad, emotionally-draining marriage? What do you think? And what are your ideas to help children of divorce?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Divorce Rate Statistics

Is the divorce rate in this country getting better or worse? And is a high divorce rate necessarily always a bad thing?

According to many professionals, including Dr. Robert Hughes, an Ohio State professor, the divorce rate in the United States reached its peak in the late 1970’s and it has leveled off, or dropped slightly, in the years since then. In other words, in recent years, the divorce rate has been about 20 women per 1000 women, compared to 23 women per 1000 women in the late 1970’s. Of course, everything is relative, and our divorce rate is still high, because the divorce rate in the 1950’s was only about 5 women per 1000, according to Dr. Hughes.

But are high divorce rates necessarily good or bad? Please don't cynically believe that, just because I am an Augusta, Georgia divorce lawyer, I automatically love a high divorce rate! To me, while high divorce rates are never good, on a positive note, at least today’s woman is not always as trapped in an abusive relationship as her 1950’s counterpart must have been. No doubt, in the 1950’s, Leave-It-To-Beaver’s mother would have stayed married to Ward Cleaver no matter what domestic abuse she may have suffered. Do you agree? What do you think about our high divorce rate and is it necessarily good or bad?
And why do you think our divorce rate has leveled off, or dropped slightly, since the late 1970’s? Is it simply because there more hopeless romantic types around today?!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Divorce Quiz: Celebrity Divorces--Most Times

Okay, here is a new fun feature on divorce at "Divorce Lawyer in Augusta, Georgia:" You must guess which of the following celebrities was/has been divorced the most number of times, (according to Seniors For Living and Wikipedia):

A. Larry King

B. Elizabeth Taylor

C. Zsa Zsa Gabor

D. Lana Turner

Give up? The correct answer to this divorce quiz is..........D. Hollywood star Lana Turner was divorced a record eight times!

CNN "star" Larry King has been divorced "only" six times, while actors Elizabeth Taylor and Zsa Zsa Gabor have each been married and divorced "only" seven times, according to these sources!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Should You Love Him or Leave Him? Ask Tammy Wynette!

Some of you "out there" may be contemplating a divorce and thinking, should I "love him or leave him?" Deciding whether or not to divorce can be a difficult decision to make. No doubt, there are many factors weighing on your decision. And everyone should understand that deciding whether or not to divorce is a very personal question, to be answered only by you, and not by any relatives or friends, and certainly not by divorce lawyers or judges.

On a lighter note, did you know that country music legend, Tammy Wynette, the "First Lady of Country Music," helped write and sang, in 1968, two songs which address both sides of this issue? The first song, "Stand By Your Man," was reportedly co-written by Ms. Wynette and producer Billy Sherrill in an Epic studio in only fifteen minutes. This legendary song, which went against the grain of the womens' liberation movement, suggested that a woman should love and "stand by [her] man," no matter what faults he possessed. On the other hand, Wynette's other top song that year, "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," suggested that sometimes a woman must leave her man.

I don't mean to make light of difficult decisions being made by men and women everywhere about whether or not to get a divorce. But it is interesting to remember that, in 1968, one country music legend produced songs going in both directions!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sitting Down and Planning a Budget

The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC handles divorces only in Georgia and primarily in the Augusta, Georgia area. But here's a helpful hint, or tip, for all of you who are contemplating a divorce, no matter where you are located. And it's something that many people often overlook, as I have learned when prospective divorce clients call my son or me every day to discuss what to expect in a divorce.

Here's the tip: Sit down and plan a new monthly budget, (for your new life). Even though it may only be an estimate, it will help guide you in making other decisions about your divorce. For example, we recommend that you carefully investigate and examine how much your rent, (or mortgage), cable, utilities, groceries, and other living expenses might cost in a "new" home or apartment. Now, this doesn't mean that a divorce lawyer can promise you'll get everything you need. However, you need to carefully analyze how much money you will need, (for you and your kids), each month, in order to survive financially. Only then, (after preparing such a budget), can you know approximately how much you may need to try to get, (i.e. squeeze), out of your spouse, "Sluggo," in the form of alimony, child support, or a property settlement.

I am sure you realize that this step is only one of many you will have to take. But preparing a budget for your new life will help you as you take additional steps along the way. Please be sure to discuss this idea with your own divorce lawyer, along with all your other questions about your divorce!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Keeping a Diary or Timeline

Let's assume you have left your spouse, "Sluggo," and that "Sluggo" keeps harassing you with unwelcomed calls and visits, including calls to your work place. What can you do about it?

In addition to possibly calling your local law enforcement agency, and also telling your divorce lawyer about it, there is another important thing you should do: You should document it. In other words, you should keep a diary or timeline about all the nasty things that "Sluggo" is doing to you. Then, you can turn over to your divorce attorney a well documented account of all the bad things that he (or she) has done. Now, the timeline, in and of itself, is probably not admissible evidence. But it may provide a good source of detailed information for your divorce lawyer to use in cross-examining "Sluggo." Don't you see the utility of this strategy? Can't you see your lawyer asking him on the witness stand, "Isn't it true, "Sluggo," that on July 1st at noon, and again on July 2d and 4th, you stalked your wife at work?" Keeping a timeline will also provide you with a good reference source to review and refresh your own memory prior to your own testimony.

In short, keeping a diary or timeline is another weapon which can be effectively used by divorce attorneys to fight spousal abuse. Please be sure to discuss this idea with your own divorce lawyer.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Joke of the Day--How Bees Get A Divorce!

Do you know how bees get a divorce?

One bee simply says to the other, "Leave me, be[e]!"

Monday, August 3, 2009

Beware of Facebook, MySpace, and Dating Websites!

Did you know that divorce lawyers in Georgia are now taught at divorce law seminars to investigate whether or not the opposing party in a divorce has "prematurely" joined a social networking or dating website?! The point is: While you may be a hopeless romantic who is disillusioned with your worthless, good-for-nothing spouse, if you are smart, you will wait on trolling the internet for love or friendship until AFTER your divorce is final!

So many people in Georgia divorces are failing to consider or heed this simple advice. And sadly, they are also failing to consider the potential consequences. For example, if you and your spouse have small children and child custody is an issue, it clearly does not help your custody case if you are "out there" on Facebook describing your weekend of partying, or if you are already on seeking a new partner!

In addition, please don't ever assume that your spouse does not know your password, or that no one on the internet will know that you are there. These are common mistakes and false assumptions made by divorcing couples.

The bottom line is: Although it is your choice to make, we would urge you to consult with your divorce attorney about your internet activities before your divorce is filed or pending. Divorce attorneys at The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC typically recommend to our Augusta and Martinez clients that they should "live like Mother Teresa" until their divorce is final! Better yet, maybe you should also simply consider avoiding the internet until the judge signs your final decree and you are finally free to find true love! What do you think?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Other Costs in a Georgia Divorce

In this blog, we want to try to give you some good, practical information and tips about Georgia divorces and Georgia divorce attorneys. And maybe nothing is more practical than a discussion of the costs of your Georgia divorce!

Elsewhere in this blog about divorce in Augusta, Georgia, we have discussed how much in legal fees you may have to pay a divorce lawyer. Naturally, legal fees are just one of many potential costs in your Georgia divorce.

The court filing fee is another cost you should expect to pay. This is one cost that is required in both uncontested and contested divorces. Typically, the filing fee will be $80.00.

In addition, in contested divorces, there will typically be some court reporter fees, both for the temporary and final hearings. In addition, if your divorce lawyer takes any depositions, then you can expect to pay at least several hundred dollars, if not more, in court reporter costs alone.

Also, if child custody is at issue, then the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate both spouses' homes while attempting to determine which spouse would make the best custodial parent. Guardian ad litems typically charge $500.00 initially, and frequently this initial cost is shared by the parties. Other guardian ad litem costs will depend on how much investigation is required.

Finally, many judges require the parties to go through mediation, if the parties cannot otherwise settle all the issues between them. Mediation may cost up to several hundred dollars.

So, you can see why contested divorces are so expensive! These are just some of the costs that you may have to pay in order to obtain your freedom! Have any of you experienced any expensive divorces? What happened to you in your divorce case?