Saturday, August 27, 2011

Celebrity Separations and Child Custody and Visitation Issues: Halle Berry

[Photo from wikipedia]
An interesting issue involving child visitation was illustrated in a news story reported by TMZ this week.  According to TMZ and other news sources, Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry was back in court this week with her lawyers to settle a child visitation issue with model Gabriel Aubry, her former lover and the father of their three year old child.  The issue reportedly involved how much visitation Mr. Aubry can have with their child while Ms. Berry is away filming movies. 

Although you may not be a movie star, a similar issue can arise following your separation or divorce, too.  For instance, if you have primary physical custody, but you have a job which sometimes takes you out of town, your ex may seek additional visitation rights.  In other words, your ex may seek, in a divorce modification action, additional child visitation rights, (or may even seek a change as to child custody).  Generally, your ex's argument will be that having the child stay with a parent, (while you are away), is preferable to the child staying with other relatives or in daycare.

Of course, every family law case is different.  In short, if this issue arises in your case, you should consult with your divorce lawyer as soon as possible.  According to TMZ, Ms. Berry reportedly came out of this hearing pretty good, and you may come out okay, too!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rumors of Celebrity Separations and Divorce: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith

[Photo from wikipedia]
I am a big fan of actor Will Smith.  While I wasn't crazy about his television series, Fresh Prince of Belair, I have really enjoyed several of his fantastic movies, including Men in Black and I Am Legend.  So, I really hated to hear and read the reported Hollywood gossip about alleged problems in his 13 year marriage to fine actress Jada Pinkett Smith.  I also hate it that, whether or not any of the rumors are true, the Hollywood press probably won't leave the couple alone.

We have discussed in this divorce blog before about all the stressors placed by Hollywood and by acting careers on celebrity marriages.  Look, celebrity couples can have marital problems just like everyone else.  And it may be true that many celebrity marriages do end in separation and divorce.  But not all celebrity marriages end in separation or divorce.  And it is equally true that it is a shame that Hollywood couples generally find it much more difficult than most other couples to address any potential issues in private.

Here's hoping that this fine acting couple will find some peace and happiness!  What do you think?  Don't you agree that, generally, the media spotlight could exacerbate any potential marital problems?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Filing For Divorce First: Does It Really Matter?

[Photo from]
In this blog about divorce in Georgia, we enjoy discussing issues which arise in celebrity divorces.  We also include posts about movies dealing with divorce and even a few divorce jokes of the day!  But we also enjoy including some practical divorce tips and information for you to discuss with your own divorce attorney.  Today, we address the question of whether or not it matters who files for divorce first.

So, you have finally decided to divorce your worthless spouse, "Sluggo!" Now, you wonder -- does it really matter who files for divorce first?  In other words, should you be concerned about racing Sluggo to the courthouse?

As an Augusta, Georgia divorce attorney, I can tell you that, generally, it does not matter who files for a divorce first.  In other words, even if Sluggo files a divorce complaint and gets your served first, you and your divorce lawyer will still be able to file an answer and counterclaim, and set forth all your facts and legal arguments.

That being said, as a divorce attorney, I have also seen some circumstances in which filing first may provide some advantage.  For instance, if you are concerned about your spouse moving away, then you should discuss with your divorce lawyer the importance of getting him or her served before they leave the area.

Also, in some cases, I have seen some psychological advantage in the idea of "going first" and getting Sluggo served first.  In other words, in some cases, if Sluggo is a control freak and believes that he can control how and when you get a divorce, then there might be some advantage in taking away the control and having a deputy put divorce documents in his hands!

So, in the final analysis, in most divorce cases, it may not matter who gets to the courthouse first.  However, in some divorce cases, there might be some advantage in filing first for a divorce and "making Sluggo's day!" Of course, every divorce is different and we recommend that you discuss all your rights and options with your own divorce attorney!   

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Is It Really "Your Thing?" Or Can You Really Cheat Or "Do What You Wanna Do" Before Your Divorce Is Final?

[Photo from]
Do you remember the classic 1960's song, "It's Your Thing," by the Isley Brothers?  If so, then you will recall that the song's lyrics essentially suggest that, because it's "your thing," then you can "do what you wanna do" and "sock it" to whomever you want and, presumably, whenever you want!

But is this song really true in all situations?  More particularly, is it really "your thing," during a divorce, and can you "sock it" to whomever you want, and whenever you want, even before your divorce is final?  In other words, is it okay to cheat, or commit adultery, even before the ink on your divorce decree is dry?

As divorce lawyers in Augusta, Georgia, in our opinion, our plain, simple answer to this important question is "NO!"  It is NOT okay!  In other words, generally speaking, (and from a legal standpoint), in a Georgia divorce, it is NOT okay to cheat, or date, or commit adultery, or run around, or do "your thing" until after your divorce is final!  There are too many potential ramifications and too many potential adverse consequences, of cheating, to discuss here.  Be sure to consult with your own divorce attorney.  But a couple of examples should suffice.  

For instance, proof of cheating, even long after the separation, might tend to support your spouse's claim that adultery also occurred before the separation.  In addition, if you are out partying and "running around" while the divorce is pending, it could potentially have an impact on the issue of which party would make the best custodial parent in a child custody battle.  Again, talk with your own divorce lawyer about this issue!

Look, as divorce attorneys, we realize that you are, in reality, going to "do what you wanna do."  But our job, as divorce lawyers, is not to slap you on the back and approve everything you "wanna do."  Our role is to provide information and sound advice, even if it is not what you want to hear.

Can you imagine my surprise when I recently read another divorce lawyer's blog in which that divorce attorney essentially suggested that it is okay to cheat during a divorce?!  Actually, the lawyer basically suggested that it is okay to cheat before your divorce is final, but just don't get caught! 

Well, you won't hear that same advice, or opinion, at the Goolsby Law Firm, LLC!  As you know, we are divorce lawyers in Augusta, Georgia -- in the heart of the Bible Belt.  Maybe things are handled differently in divorce cases in other places.  And maybe it is okay to do "your thing" in other jurisdictions. 

But in Georgia, if you are going through a divorce, again, you should discuss the potential impact of adultery on your divorce with your own divorce lawyer.  And, if you ask us, from a legal standpoint, while it may be "your thing," you shouldn't "do what you wanna do," until after the divorce is final. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Divorce, Divorce Costs, and the "Good Old Days!"

[Photo from]
Let's face it.  Not everything was good about the "good old days!"  But some things about getting a divorce were arguably better "way back when" than they are today.  Frankly, in my opinion, as an Augusta, Georgia divorce lawyer, we all should take a few lessons from our grandparents about how lawsuits were handled "back in the day!"  

Here are just a couple of examples of how we could improve divorce procedures. I got some of these ideas from a conversation I recently had with a kind, elderly gentleman who got a divorce over 65 years ago!

The increase in the amount and number of court documents and paperwork was one of the things I discussed with this elderly gentleman.  Ideally, in my opinion, we should reduce the amount of paperwork in Georgia divorces.  For example, this kind, elderly gentleman told me that, when he got a divorce back in the 1940's, the judge signed a divorce decree which consisted of only one page!  Isn't that remarkable?  As a Georgia divorce attorney, I fully recognize that we cannot (and should not) eliminate all divorce documents which are part of a typical modern divorce, including parenting plans, child support worksheets, and the child support addenda.  Some change is good.  But it would also be nice if some of the tangential divorce documents and forms could be streamlined, or eliminated.

Additionally, it would be nice if the costs of a Georgia divorce could be reduced.  The elderly gentleman told me that, when he got a divorce 65 years ago, it cost only $35.00!  Isn't that incredible?  Now, we all know that $35.00 was still a substantial amount back then, but the costs of going to court have easily out-stripped inflation.  One way to reduce the costs of a divorce would be for the Georgia General Assembly to reduce the amount of the court filing fee.  Last year, (as I have complained about before in this blog), our legislature increased the filing fee for all civil lawsuits, including divorces, from $80.00 to a whopping $205.00!  In my opinion, this filing fee increase was outrageous and unfair to Georgians who can no longer afford justice in this state.

What do you think?  Were the "good old days" really all that good?  What changes would you recommend?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Divorce Lawyer's Take on "Do It Yourself Divorce" Kits

[Photo from]
Everybody is into DIY (do-it-yourself) projects these days!  I love to refinish antique furniture!  But please let me explain why I believe DIY kits may not be the best way to go when you get a divorce in Georgia.

Okay, I realize that before I offer this critique of  DIY divorces and divorce kits, some of you may think it is just sour grapes offered by a greedy divorce attorney!  In other words, you may think I am just another divorce lawyer who doesn't appreciate the competition!  But please believe me that that is not the case!  I simply do not recommend that anyone should attempt to handle such an important, complicated legal matter without help from a professional.

For instance, in many divorce cases, both contested and uncontested divorces, there are generally a number of relatively complicated issues, such as child custody and child support.  For example, no kit is likely going to tell you all the proper factors in calculating child support under the Georgia child support guidelines.  Also, there are a number of requirements for a Georgia divorce which, in our experience, the so-called DIY divorce kits typically do not meet or satisfy.  For example, no kit is going to tell you that, in a Columbia County divorce, you will need to submit a properly filled out summons, even in an uncontested divorce.

Finally, there is one additional reason why I believe DIY kits are not the best way to get a divorce in Georgia.  This reason is that there are a number of divorce lawyers, including us, at the Goolsby Law Firm, LLC, who will handle simple, uncontested divorces for an affordable retainer that does not cost a lot more than many of the DIY kits!

So, have I convinced you that a do-it-yourself divorce is not the best way to go?  Save your creativity for your home repair projects! 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Celebrity Divorces: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz

[Photo of Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance from Wikipedia]
Have you heard?  Tomorrow, August 6, 2011, would have been the 100th birthday of talented actress and business mogul Lucille Ball!  Sadly, Ms. Ball, one of my favoriote comedians, died of an aneurysm back in 1989. 

I won't bore you with a lot of facts about her incredible life and Hollywood career.  But did you know that her original television series, I Love Lucy, aired 180 episodes between 1951 and 1957?  Did you also know that Ms. Ball and her first husband, (and co-star), Desi Arnaz, were married in 1940 and divorced in 1960?  Ms. Ball later married a comic/businessman, Gary Morton, with whom she lived at the time of her death.

Most of you probably know that Ms. Ball was a trail blazer as a television business woman and founder of Desilu film production company.  But did you know that, early in her career, Lucy starred in different films with both the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers?  

However, that's enough, today, of the facts about the stellar career of Lucille Ball. Today, I mainly just want to say: thank you, "Happy Birthday," and "I Love Lucy!"

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Surprising Celebrity Separations and Divorce: Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony

[Photo of Lopez and Anthony from Wikipedia]
Have you seen the latest edition of Vanity Fair?  According to various news reports, talented singer and American Idol Judge Jennifer Lopez explains in Vanity Fair exactly why she and her husband of 7 years, Marc Anthony, recently split up.  Among other reported reasons, Ms. Lopez indicated essentially that she realized she wasn't being treated properly and that she loved herself too much not to walk away.

What is your opinion of these cited reasons for this celebrity split?  Also, have you noticed a trend these days that, after a separation or a divorce, many celebrities ultimately "go public" about the splitup, either in interviews, with celebrity interviewers like Oprah, or in "tell-all" books or magazines?

What do you think about this practice of celebrities "going public," rather than keeping such matters private?  Of course, in their defense, because they are in the public eye, many celebrities probably realize that if they don't tell their side of it, then somebody else will gossip about it, or make up something anyway!  So, perhaps celebrities might as well tell the truth and hope it slows down the rumor mills and "inquiring minds."  What do you think?