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Alpharetta Family Law Blog

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.

Should you agree to give up the house?

Dividing real estate during a divorce in Georgia may seem cut and dried if your spouse wants to keep the home and you do not. However, coming to this agreement may not be as important as determining whether this decision is worth the potential financial and legal tangle. According to the New York Times, assessing the value of the home and fairly dividing the amount of equity in it are only two of many issues to consider if your spouse decides to keep this marital property.

Your spouse will probably need to refinance the home so your name can be taken off the mortgage, and then your portion of the equity would be awarded to you in the divorce decree. However, it may be that he or she will not be able to qualify for a mortgage unless spousal support or child support are counted as part of the income. This could raise problems if the lender will not approve the loan without a certain number of bank statements verifying this ongoing income. In that case, your name could remain on the mortgage until the end of that time limit, which could be from six months to three years, depending on the lender.

Terms of divorce settlement should be honored

Even when two people make substantial incomes on their own, they may not be eager to end their marriage without a settlement that appears to treat them both fairly. Finally reaching an agreement may seem to be the end of the story, but how the parties honor their responsibilities as outlined in the final decree may make a difference in whether they are acceptable.

Johnny Depp recently donated money to charity in lieu of making the settlement payment to his ex-wife, Amber Heard. He had agreed to pay her $7 million in the divorce settlement. Her intention, which she announced publicly, was to make gifts of the entire $7 million award to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Why mediation is a great tool for high-asset divorce

For many divorcing couples who have amassed a significant degree of wealth, mediation might not seem like the best choice. On first blush, it would appear that a high-asset divorce should be more contentious, and the courtroom would be the only appropriate venue for a divorcing couple to battle over every detail.

However, if anything, mediation and other non-litigious methods of divorce can be especially beneficial in high asset divorce. Learn how mediation can be an asset in your divorce.

How secure is DNA testing for paternity?

From identifying criminals to learning facts about your ancestors, DNA testing has become an accepted and even common part of modern culture. Proving paternity in a Georgia custody case is another popular use of this scientific test, and it may be an option you are considering if you want to establish your biological connection to your child by submitting the results to a family law court.

According to, a DNA test cannot be used as evidence in court unless you go to a facility that collects the sample. Simply swabbing your mouth with a home kit and mailing it to a laboratory may provide you with information that satisfies your own need to know. But, the court cannot use it because this method is too susceptible to fraud. Another man could easily claim that his sample belonged to you, or vice versa. On the other hand, the child’s mother would never be able to submit a sample of her own in an attempt to create confusion with your test, as long as the facility you use includes a gene that differentiates between female and male samples.

A new start: Steps to reestablishing credit after divorce

The financial outlook you and your spouse shared may change dramatically after your divorce in Georgia. The judge will attempt to make the division of assets and debt fair based the individual income and circumstances of you and your spouse, but the final decree may still result in a situation that is financially challenging. Having good credit may be essential to getting your life reinstated. We at The Siemon Law Firm often provide legal advice about the effects of property division after divorce.

Any joint credit cards or accounts should be canceled as soon as possible. You will still both be responsible for the shared debt, so it is important to prevent your spouse from increasing the amount that will be split between you.

Reducing a child’s stress during divorce

No matter how well parents in Georgia manage to hide the conflict of divorce from their children, the event itself upsets the security of a child’s life. A single transition can cause a sense of instability that leads to stress, but according to the Institute for Family Studies, a typical divorce is a major transition that often sets in motion other dramatic changes in a child’s life. Identifying multiple stress factors may be helpful in reducing them.

A move to a new home and school are often part of a divorce that increases the emotional strain in the child’s life. To mitigate the impact of these changes, parents may help children by ensuring that they are able to maintain contact with family and friends, which may be particularly reassuring if there is a move of significant distance.

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