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!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Divorce "Tip of the Day:" Kill 'Em With Kindness!

What should you do if you want to have an uncontested divorce, but your angry, incorrigible spouse, "Sluggo," keeps "pushing your buttons" with insult after insult?
The simple answer is.....Kill him with kindness, that is, at least until the ink of his signature on your divorce settlement agreement is dry!
Generally, the only way you can get an uncontested divorce in Georgia is if both parties will cooperate and sign all the divorce documents. So, if you give in to a "hissy fit" and trade insults with Sluggo, then it may become impossible to get him to sign anything! Yet, in many cases, getting an uncontested divorce is to your advantage: An uncontested divorce will save you (both) a lot of time, hassle, and money.
So, at least for now, please don't argue; instead, just smile, bite your tongue, breathe deeply, and hand Sluggo an ink pen!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Divorce and Service By Publication

Here's a nightmare scenario for you! What do you do if you want to divorce your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," but he has left town for parts unknown? Are you doomed to remain "Mrs. Sluggo" forever simply because you cannot find him and serve him with divorce papers?
Thankfully, Georgia law generally allows for service by publication in situations where Sluggo's whereabouts cannot be determined. But you still must jump through several hoops in order to convince the judge to issue an order allowing for service by publication in the local newspaper.
For instance, you must submit an affidavit to the court, (prepared for you by your divorce lawyer), showing that you have exercised due diligence, but you were unable to find good old Sluggo. For example, the judge will expect you to have contacted his last known employer, his neighbors, his relatives, or any friends you both know, along with perhaps conducting an online search for him.
This list is merely illustrative and you may think of other ways to show due diligence in trying to find your wayward spouse. You see, the judges just want to be sure that you have actually searched for Sluggo, and that he doesn't actually live across the street from you! Also, the judges want to see that you are not "trying to pull a fast one" by getting a divorce without giving Sluggo fair notice, (i.e. by the preferred way of personally serving him and giving him his day in court)!
So, do not despair if Sluggo has left you, for parts unknown, to see the world! You can still get a divorce through service by publication! And then, you can see the world, free as a bird!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Divorce and Dating: When Can You Start?

Let's assume you have lived with your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," for many years and now you are finally getting a divorce. You can't wait to get started on your new life and maybe meeting "Mr. Right!" When can you start dating again? Can you begin dating after your divorce attorney has filed your divorce documents?
In Georgia, the simple, unequivocal answer is: NO! NO! NO! You cannot, should not, must not begin dating or looking for Mr. Right until AFTER your divorce is final! Filing the documents begins the process; but it takes a final divorce decree to complete it.
Please consult with your divorce lawyer about this question, but, I can tell you that, in Georgia, dating and adultery can have dire consequences for you and your divorce! For example, adultery can operate as a bar to alimony. In addition, if you are engaged in a child custody battle, Sluggo's divorce attorney will probably try to spin evidence of your dating to attempt to show your unfitness as a custodial parent.
The bottom line is that, (at least in Georgia), you should NOT begin dating until AFTER your divorce is final! Look at it this way: You have put up with living with Sluggo for this long; so, surely you can manage not dating for just a little while longer, too!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Goolsby Law Firm: And How I Got Here!

Have you ever noticed how life can involve a series of "coincidental" circumstances and that life can lead you to places you never before dreamed you would be? That's sort of what happened to me in my arrival here, two years ago, to practice law with my oldest son, at The Goolsby Law Firm in Augusta!

Two years ago, I was working happily as a federal prosecutor, here, in Augusta, Georgia. At that time, I still enjoyed the challenge of prosecuting major fraud and public corruption cases and, after twenty years as a federal prosecutor, I thought I would finish my career in that position. But then, the coincidences began occurring and, suddenly, my life and career began changing rapidly! But let me give you a little background information.

At that time, my oldest son had recently gotten out of law school and had just started practicing law in a small Augusta law firm under the tutelage of a more experienced Augusta attorney. All of a sudden, out of the blue, that attorney decided to move away from Augusta. (You see, she was probably dealing with her own series of life's coincidences!) She offered to sell her law practice to my son. As a family, we all wondered what he should do?

Simultaneously, out of the blue, the Department of Justice offered all career employees with 20 years of government service an "early out," with full retirement benefits and a bonus! I will never forget how I learned about this early retirement opportunity. Get the picture: I was sitting in the U.S. Attorney's Office and thinking about my son's situation, when I learned that our office had just won an appeal in a major public corruption case that I had tried and won. The case was against State Senator Charles Walker who had appealed his convictions on 127 felony counts. By winning the appeal, I knew I wouldn't have to try that case again! Sitting there, I was elated! While I was actually reading the appellate court decision on my office computer monitor, all of a sudden, an email also "popped up" on the same screen informing me about the early retirement opportunity. Coincidentally, I had also just passed the 20 year milestone.

That email, along with winning the appeal on my "career case," provided all the answers I needed! I decided, right then and there, to take up Uncle Sam on his generous "early out" offer, and to leave the U.S. Attorney's Office and buy in to the law practice with my son! The timing was perfect! I was thrilled! After all, how often does a parent have a chance to do something like this with their children?!

And after two years, I haven't looked back! I enjoy my new career and practicing law with my son! (Two more sons may also join us down the road!) I am also proud of the work done and the clients helped by The Goolsby Law Firm during the past two years! But I am still amazed at how a series of coincidences led me to where I am today! The career prosecutor is now a proud criminal defense lawyer and a divorce attorney! I never would have dreamed it!

Life is a series of coincidences! Or is it all coincidental?

Have you experienced a similar series of coincidences in your own life?!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Positive Parenting Through Divorce

Many states, including Georgia, now require divorcing parents with children to take a "children of divorce" course, which is generally a 4 hour class designed to help parents make good choices concerning their children. For example, such courses help parents know when and how to tell small children about the divorce.

The point here is that, even though you may travel a lot with your job, and even though it may be difficult for you to attend such a class, you are still going to have to do it, that is, if you want the judge to grant you a divorce! At least you aren't required to take the class with "Sluggo;" but you each must take it and then turn over the certificate of completion to your attorney.

Fortunately, there are a number of convenient locations, days, and times, in Augusta, Georgia, where you can take the class. For example, Life Management Group, located at 4210 Columbia Road, Suite 7A, (not far from The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC.), is one excellent place to take this class. (We will discuss what is offered in their course in a later blog post). Check them out at Your divorce lawyer can also give you information about other class sites located conveniently near you.

Also, if you prefer, you can take the class online, at a time that is good for you, by simply going to:
But no matter whether you take the class online, or "on ground," your divorce attorney must receive the certificates of completion so that he or she can show the court that you have completed this requirement!

Don't you agree that taking a parenting class is a good idea, and also worth it, in order to get rid of your sorry spouse, "Sluggo?!"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Divorce and Child Abuse

Clearly, not all divorces involve child abuse. But just as clearly, child abuse and incest do occur and are problems which should not be ignored. Fortunately, here in Augusta, Georgia, resources exist to help address these serious problems. We have talked before in this divorce blog about the fine work done by Safe Homes of Augusta. Today, I just want to tell you a little bit about the fantastic work done for abused children by Child Enrichment and the Child Advocacy Center. (
I am proud to be a part of the history of the Child Advocacy Center. When I was a young state prosecutor, here in Augusta, a group of us professionals who dealt with child abuse cases, (from DFACS, the local social services agency, juvenile court, the sheriff's department, and D.A.'s Office), realized that abused kids were not being well taken care of by the system. Kids were actually being interviewed, and probably scared to death, at the old jail. And a few child molestation cases were actually slipping through the cracks and not being prosecuted, due to lack of inter-agency communication! There were some inter-agency feuds and turf battles.
So, some of us got together and formed the Augusta Child Advocacy Center, whose goals were to provide a friendly, homelike setting where abused kids could be interviewed. (We worked hard, raised funds and got a house for this purpose). All the agencies also began meeting together and coordinating their efforts to help the kids. Also, we established a protocol for interviewing children which is now being used statewide. (Indeed, there are now child advocacy centers modeled after us located throughout the State of Georgia!) The center also provides free counseling for the kids and their family members. Since then, the Augusta Child Advocacy Center has merged with, and continues its fine work at, Child Enrichment.
I am proud to have been a co-founder and the first president of the Augusta Child Advocacy Center! And I tip my hat to our other incredible organizers: Janet, Anchell, Judy, Sheryl, Gary, Wayne, Thelma, David, Kathy, and so many others, who were all there in the beginning!
What resources exist in your community to help abused children? Have you ever considered volunteering to help in one of your community's charitable organizations? You will be glad you did!