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!