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Alpharetta Family Law Blog

Keeping a joint mortgage after a divorce

If you are like many people in Georgia, your home is the single largest financial asset that you and your spouse own. This reality, along with the emotional attachment that many people have to their homes, it is no wonder that deciding what to do with your house when you get divorced can be so complex. What exactly are your options about your home during a divorce?

Bankrate explains that it is not uncommon for one spouse to push hard to remain in their homes after getting divorced. However, it is recommended that you think carefully about choosing this option before making a decision to do so. If you are able to refinance your mortgage so that it is in your name only, keeping your home becomes less complicated than if you retain a joint mortgage with your former spouse.

Tips for positive co-parenting after a divorce

One thing that divorcing parents in Georgia must come to terms with is the fact that while a divorce can end their marriage, it does not eliminate the need for them to work together with each other to raise their children. Co-parenting after a divorce is an art unto itself and can require a high level of flexibility and patience on the part of both parents. 

Psychology Today recommends that by keeping the children as the clear focus, parents may have an increased ability to work collaboratively because it makes the kids' best interests the priority. Identifying how to effectively communicate is important for divorced parents. If communication is a challenge and even contentious at times, parents may wish to use websites or apps developed to help keep both parents informed about things but reduce the amount of direct contact they must have with each other. This can help to cut down on the level of conflict which helps parents and kids alike.

Splitting retirement accounts in a divorce

When getting divorced, spouses in Georgia may need to split the assets in their retirement accounts as part of their property divisions settlement. However, it is important to understand that splitting these accounts may not be the same as splitting other assets as special rules may apply. SmartAsset indicates that without the use of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, people may have to pay early withdrawal penalties and taxes on any money taken out of a 401(K) even if the distribution is outlined in a divorce decree.

The U.S. Department of Labor explains that that a QDRO establishes the non-account-owning spouse as an authorized alternate payee on the account. It allows that person to receive funds from the account and then roll them over into another qualifying retirement account sans those early withdrawal penalties or taxes.

Before you divide the artwork: The importance of valuation

Assets that a couple obtains during the marriage become marital property, and these have to be divided in a Georgia divorce. Forbes warns that unlike financial assets, personal property does not have a straightforward price tag that can be used as a bargaining tool when spouses are trying to decide who gets what. Artwork falls under this category, and while some may have more sentimental than monetary value, others may be worth more than the house. In either case, a proper valuation may tip the scales on who gets to keep the piece in question.

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, most artwork falls under the category of fine art, and in most cases, it is beneficial to hire an appraiser who is a specialist in that particular medium. For example, a person who is determining the value of a painting would need to consider its condition, which may also include the frame. Who the artist is may make a significant difference, too.

What can we learn from the Brangelina divorce?

If you are currently going through a Georgia divorce that involves custody issues, you may be sympathizing with Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt as their custody questions are discussed in the news. Even if your situation is nothing like theirs, the upheaval that your child is facing may be similar to what the Jolie-Pitt children may go through in the coming months.

It may be a concern if you do not have the same resources that this high-profile couple will have to help their children. However, according to CBS News, assistance from a professional may not be more helpful than actions that you may take on your own. These include shielding your child from parental conflict, maintaining stability and providing love and reassurances.  

Answering a complaint for divorce

Divorce is more than the end of your relationship; it is also the end of your household in Georgia. While property division may not be the first thing you think of when you receive a summons from your spouse requesting a divorce, reading through his or her wishes that have been presented to the court may bring the thought to the forefront quickly. We at The Siemon Law Firm have counseled many people whose spouses filed for divorce first.

The judge will consider a number of factors that are beyond your control when dividing marital property, such as the financial needs of you and your spouse, how long you were married, and how well you are each set up to support yourselves. However, Georgia Legal Aid explains that the judge will consider the wishes of you and your spouse during property division, as well.

Adding virtual visitation to your parenting plan

Coming to an agreement on a parenting plan may be difficult for two parents in Georgia who both want to spend as much time with their child as possible. Developing a fair schedule may seem even more challenging if one parent has moved to another state, but communication options may help bridge the distance. The State of Georgia points out that the child custody agreement should include acceptable ways for a parent to interact with the child when they are not together. explains that taking advantage of video chats, email, instant messaging and social media in addition to phone calls and texts may be excellent ways for parents and children to stay in touch, although none of these should be a substitute for reasonable visitation. The contact may help a child to experience less trauma from the separation, but the communication should be as consistent and regular as possible to prevent a greater sense of uncertainty.

Don’t make these mistakes during your high-asset divorce

When you and your spouse make the decision to end your marriage in Georgia, the actions you take next may affect your life for years to come, or even forever. The right choices may not be immediately obvious, though. We at The Siemon Law Firm often provide advice to those who want to avoid potentially devastating missteps during the divorce process.

According to, with more marital assets come greater risks of mistakes. For example, before you insist on being awarded spousal support or keeping the family home, you may want to ask a professional how much these assets will cost you when it is time to file your taxes.

Link between divorce and poverty threatens older women

In spite of the factors that the court system takes into consideration during equitable property division in a Georgia divorce, it appears that many women may still face greater hardship, especially as they reach retirement age. According to, researchers have discovered that single women ages 65 and older were more likely to be living in poverty if they were divorced than if they were never married, or were widowed. Even in the first year after divorce, women often suffer a decline of up to 25 percent in their standard of living.

Divorce frequently sends women into a job market that they have not kept pace with due to child-rearing responsibilities. So, even though they have lower earning potential, they have increased financial obligations with the loss of their ex-spouses’ income. In addition, women often do not see a decrease in parenting time, which may contribute to their difficulty finding a job that pays adequately. Child support payments may be helpful while the children are young, but financial experts point out that it does not cover the detrimental long-term effects on retirement benefits.

Can I change my child’s last name?

After your divorce, you may have been eager to return to your maiden name, in spite of the necessary paperwork the change required. Having a different last name from your child may be a point of irritation, or even an inconvenience. According to the Georgia General Assembly, you may have the right and the ability to share your own name with your child after your divorce. But, if he or she is under the age of 18 and the other parent is still living, there are steps that must be taken in addition to those required for an adult.

The easiest way to make the change for a minor child is to get the other parent’s written consent. However, if this is not forthcoming, it does not necessarily mean you cannot reach your goal. A copy of your petition to the court for the name change must be served to the other parent. In Georgia, this must be done in person, but if the child’s father lives in another state, he must still be served with the petition. In this case, it may be sent by statutory overnight delivery or by certified mail. When you do not know where the father is, you may have the petition published according to the instructions provided by law.

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