Divorce Filings Skyrocket Around Valentine’s Day

divorce

Posted by Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford

February 14 is not too far away.  Valentine’s Day is not such a happy occasion when you are going through a divorce or even after a divorce.  Valentine’s Day can be an unwelcome reminder of the failure of your relationship and bring feelings of loneliness and depression.  If these feelings resonate with you then you are not alone.

Statistics show that divorce filings rise about 40% around Valentine’s Day.

This surge in divorce filings can most likely be attributed to the fact that most couples tend to hold off on filing for divorce until after the new year.  February and Valentine’s Day are the first part of the year after New Years and everyone’s New Year’s resolutions.

If you are contemplating a divorce, you should consult a divorce attorney alone even if you and your spouse are amicable regarding the dissolution of your divorce.  A divorce attorney can only represent one party, ie either you or your spouse.  If you allow your spouse to attend your divorce consultation then you are hindering your attorney from advising you on all of your legal rights.  Before signing any divorce Settlement Agreement, you should ensure that you are not waiving any of your rights to assets, custody, or financial support among many other issues.

For your divorce consultation, contact Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford.

Handsford Law PC | Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford | shandsford@handsfordlaw.com | 743 Walnut Street, Suite 102, Macon, GA 31201

Advertisements

Can I Get a Divorce If I Cannot Located My Ex?

paperrPosted by Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford

Georgia law allows for a party to obtain a divorce, even if they cannot locate their spouse, as long as the party has been a resident of Georgia for at least six (6) months prior to filing through a legal process called a Divorce by Publication. Therefore, if you lose all contact with your spouse, you are not forced to remain married indefinitely.

In order to obtain a divorce by publication, one must state under oath that s/he has made a diligent effort to locate their spouse but has been unsuccessful despite their efforts.  The party must take diligent steps such as calling their spouse’s last know phone number, contacting friends/family of the lost spouse, looking up their spouse in the phone directory, or even searching for their spouse on social media networks.  If the Presiding Judge is satisfied that the party has made a diligent search then the party runs a legal ad in the county’s legal organ for four consecutive weeks.  After sixty (60) days has passed from the first publication, the party may request that the court grant the divorce.  Once the Judge signs the divorce decree, the parties are officially divorced.

The main caveat to a divorce by publication is that the Court is limited to what may or may not be granted in the divorce.  For example, the Court may grant custody of the minor children but the Court cannot order the missing spouse to pay child support or alimony.  Contact Macon Divorce Attorney, Selinda D.  Handsford, regarding what requests may or may not be granted in your case.

 

The above is for general information only and is not legal advice.  Contact Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford for your divorce consultation.

Handsford Law PC | Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford | shandsford@handsfordlaw.com | 743 Walnut Street, Suite 102, Macon, GA 31201

What Happens to Our House That Is Underwater in the Divorce?

housePosted by Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford

The division of debts and assets must be addressed when dealing with any divorce case in Georgia.  One of the largest assets/debts of many married couples is the marital home.  Before the real estate bubble burst in 2007, more couples had equity in their marital homes and many times just agreed to sell the property and split the profit from the sale.  The major issue was agreeing on a sale price and the division of the profits.

Since the real market has declined dramatically, now more couples have no equity in their homes and are underwater on their mortgage.  These couples are now being faced with what to do with their underwater property when a sale would leave them a deficiency balance due on their mortgage instead of a profit.

If this is your situation, it is important to first to determine if your name is on the deed, the mortgage or both to fully assess your situation.  The deed shows what parties have an ownership interest in the property.  On the other hand, the mortgage is the financial responsibility to pay for the property.  It is possible to be on just the deed or the mortgage but not both.

If you are not on the mortgage then technically, you are not obligated to repay the mortgage unless you agree to in the divorce.

If you are on the mortgage then you will want to keep reading about your options.

 

Refinance A refinance is the process in which you replace your old mortgage with a new mortgage.  This process allows you to only place one party on the new mortgage if the lender approves your loan application.  If one party will retain the home and agree to be liable for the mortgage payments then a refinance may be an attractive option.  Of course, if one or both parties have poor credit then a refinance may be more difficult.  Even if poor credit is an issue, the divorce agreement should be carefully drafted to ensure that the party that will be obligated to refinance will be held responsible to use their best efforts to refinance.

Short Sale A short sale is an agreement with the mortgage company, wherein the mortgage company agrees to accept a lesser amount that is owed to them to pay off your mortgage loan.  The pro of a short sale is that you are able to unload the property and mortgage without having to pay the deficiency balance.  On the other hand, the con of a short sale is that it does negatively impact your credit FICO score.

Foreclosure A foreclosure is a legal process wherein the lender reclaims the property after the borrower has defaulted on their mortgage payments and sells the property at a courthouse auction.  Foreclosure is less attractive than a short sale because you may potentially still be liable for any deficiency balance or receive a 1099 and have a tax liability.  If you allow your property to be reclaimed by the lender through the foreclosure process then you should address the potential liabilities with your divorce attorney.

The above is for general information only and is not legal advice.  Contact Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford for your divorce consultation.

Handsford Law PC Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford | shandsford@handsfordlaw.com | 743 Walnut Street, Suite 102, Macon, GA 31201

 

When Co-Parenting Doesn’t Work In Georgia

Posted by Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda Handsford

Image Learning to co-parent in a healthy manner is a struggle and challenge for some parents.  After the end of a relationship, some parents cannot overlook their hurt feelings and engage in conduct that is destructive to the relationship of the child and the other parent.

Examples of this destructive behavior includes withholding visitation, blocking phone access to the child, disparaging the other parent to the child, interrogating the child after their visitation with the other parent, failing to notify the other parent of change of the child’s school, moving and failing to notify the other parent of the new home address, among other things.

The child is left dealing with the aftermath of the drama between his/her parents.  In the meantime, the child is missing out on important moments of his/her developmental years with both parents because of matters only in control of the parents.

Unfortunately, some parents cannot get past their own hurt and anger and simply refuse to co-parent.  What is the other parent to do?

Probably unsurprisingly to most experiencing this right now, dealing with the problem head-on will involve complicated and complex litigation in the courts.

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the courts favor both parents playing a role in the upbringing of the child.  The courts also recognize that some parents, simply refuse to put the best interest of the child above their own feelings.

Contempt

When one parent is violating the express terms of a custody or visitation order, the other parent may initiate a contempt action in the same court that issued the custody or visitation order.  If the court finds that a parent has willfully violated the court’s order, the Court may order that parent to do a number of things to purge themselves of contempt such as: spend time in incarceration, pay attorney fees, or even lose parenting time going forward.

Change of Custody

A parent may petition the court to change custody whenever there is a substantial change in circumstances.  Depending on the seriousness of one parent failing to co-parent in a healthy manner, the other parent may have grounds for a change of custody.  For example, if the custodial parent continuously refuses to abide by the court’s order making it impossible for the other parent to even spend time with the child, the court may decide that the only way the child stands a chance of having a health relationship with both parents is to grant the other parent primary physical custody.

If you find yourself in a tumultuous co-parenting relationship, contact Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford for a consultation.

The above is for general information only and is not legal advice.

Handsford Law PCMacon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford | shandsford@handsfordlaw.com | 743 Walnut Street, Suite 102, Macon, GA 31201

Can My Ex-Spouse Reopen My Divorce Because of Fraud?

Posted by Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford

The courts favor finality after a Final Divorce Decree is entered and understandably so.  Divorce is an emotional process and rarely are both parties completely satisfied.  If couples could so easily reopen their divorce cases to rehash issues, there may be a backlog of cases overburdening the court system. 

Still, the court does recognize that under certain circumstances, a party should be able to reopen a divorce case so that justice may be served.

Under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-60, a party may request the court to set aside a divorce decree in the event of one of the following he can show “Fraud, accident, or mistake or the acts of the adverse party unmixed with the negligence or fault of the movant.”

A party seeking to have a divorce reversed under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-60 has a high burden to meet.  The party must show that the other party actively misrepresented material facts to manipulate a settlement agreement or to obtain a favorable ruling from the court.  In addition, this material misrepresentation must be one that was reasonably relied upon by the other party.  Short of being able to prove a material misrepresentation, the courts are extremely reluctant to reopen a divorce case and re-litigate the issues.

The above is for general information only and is not legal advice.  For your divorce consultation, contact Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford.

Handsford Law PC | Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford | shandsford@handsfordlaw.com | 743 Walnut Street, Suite 102, Macon, GA 31201

Can My Ex Move Out of State With Our Child?

Posted by Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda Handsford

The United States Constitution prohibits the courts from ordering a parent to remain within the state. With that said, the courts have great discretion to consider where each parent lives to grant primary physical custody to one parent over another.

A parent can petition the court for a change in custody whenever there is a significant change in familial circumstances.  If the custodial parent is moving out of the state then that is grounds for the other parent to petition the court for a modification of custody.  The non-custodial parent can petition the court and ask that the current custody order be modified and grant that parent primary physical or sole custody so that the child can remain in the state with the parent.

When considering a request for a change of custody, the courts look to what is in the best interest of the child.  While the court will definitely consider the anticipated move of the custodial parent, the court will also look to other factors including:

(A) The love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child;

(B) The love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between the child and his or her siblings, half siblings, and stepsiblings and the residence of such other children;

(C) The capacity and disposition of each parent to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child;

(D) Each parent’s knowledge and familiarity of the child and the child’s needs;

(E) The capacity and disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, day-to-day needs, and other necessary basic care, with consideration made for the potential payment of child support by the other parent;

(F) The home environment of each parent considering the promotion of nurturance and safety of the child rather than superficial or material factors;

(G) The importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;

(H) The stability of the family unit of each of the parents and the presence or absence of each parent’s support systems within the community to benefit the child;

(I) The mental and physical health of each parent;

(J) Each parent’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the child’s educational, social, and extracurricular activities;

(K) Each parent’s employment schedule and the related flexibility or limitations, if any, of a parent to care for the child;

(L) The home, school, and community record and history of the child, as well as any health or educational special needs of the child;

(M) Each parent’s past performance and relative abilities for future performance of parenting responsibilities;

(N) The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, consistent with the best interest of the child;

(O) Any recommendation by a court appointed custody evaluator or guardian ad litem;

(P) Any evidence of family violence or sexual, mental, or physical child abuse or criminal history of either parent; and

(Q) Any evidence of substance abuse by either parent. O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3.

As you can see, the courts look to a number of factors when making a ruling on custody that is in the best interest of the child.  A misstep in the legal process or in presenting your evidence at trial can have a lasting impact on you and your family.  You and your children deserve an experienced divorce and family law attorney when dealing with custody matters. Contact Macon Divorce Attorney, Selinda D. Handsford, for your consultation at 478-750-9006. 

The above is for general information only and is not legal advice.

Handsford Law PC

Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford | shandsford@handsfordlaw.com | 743 Walnut Street, Suite 102, Macon, GA 31201

 

Will I Have to Pay Alimony?

Posted by Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda Handsford

Divorce can be as financially stressful as it is emotionally draining.  An experienced divorce attorney can guide you to making decisions that will make the most of your fresh start.

One financial aspect of divorce in Georgia is the subject of alimony.  Alimony is granted on a discretionary basis and there is no set formula to determine the amount if it is granted.

Alimony is granted based on what is fair and equitable.  The Courts consider the following factors codified in O.C.G.A. § 19-6-5 to determine what is fair and equitable:

(1) The standard of living established during the marriage;

(2) The duration of the marriage;

(3) The age and the 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 sufficient education or training to enable him to find appropriate employment;

(6) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party;

(7) The condition of the parties, including the separate estate, earning capacity, and fixed liabilities of the parties; and

(8) Such other relevant factors as the court deems equitable and proper.

Determining alimony can be a complicated issue.  However, in general, the longer you have been married and the larger the disparity in your income and your spouse’s, the greater your probability of having to pay alimony.

If it looks likely that you will have to pay alimony, you can strategize with your divorce attorney and perhaps a financial planner so that you can create a financial plan that makes the most sense for you after your divorce is final.

The above is for general information only and is not legal advice.  For your divorce consultation, contact Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford at 478-750-9006.

Handsford Law PC | Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford | shandsford@handsfordlaw.com | 743 Walnut Street, Suite 102, Macon, GA 31201

Dealing With New Romantic Relationships In a Divorce With Children

Posted by Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford

During a separation, it is not uncommon for one spouse or both to have a desire to begin a new romantic relationship as they attempt to adjust to a new life.  While this desire is natural, there are times when one must put their own selfish needs aside and act in a manner that is in the best interest of the children.

If you are involved in a contested divorce with children, THINK TWICE about starting a new romantic relationship and if you must, it is generally a good idea to keep your new relationship away from your children.

Your actions up until trial can be used against you in a contested custody matter.  Specifically, any of your actions that are not in the best interest of your children may be used to restrict your custody and visitation rights.

Some examples of what generally NOT to do with your new relationships during a contested custody battle include:

 

1.  Presenting new relationships to your children before the divorce is final.  This may confuse your children and it sets a bad example.

 

2.  Presenting multiple new relationships to your children.

 

3.  Moving your new lover into your home or vice versa.

 

4.  Dating someone that is unfit to be around your children.

 

5.  Having overnight guests of the opposite sex that are not family members when the children are in the home with you.

 

With that being said, the converse is true for the other spouse.  THINK TWICE before withholding visitation from your spouse just because they are in a new romantic relationship.  Generally, withholding visitation from your spouse is not in the best interest of the children.

Divorce is an emotional process, but when children are involved parents must put their own feelings to the side to do what is in the best interest of the children.

The above is for general information only and is not legal advice.  For your divorce or child custody consultation, contact Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford at 478-750-9006.

Handsford Law PC

Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda D. Handsford | shandsford@handsfordlaw.com | 743 Walnut Street, Suite 102, Macon, GA 31201

Co-Parenting: Creating New Traditions for Children of Divorce

Posted by Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda Handsford

The end of a marriage is a transition for any family with children whether the break up is amicable or hostile.  A major part of the transition is celebrating the holidays for the first time in separate households.  It is often a sudden realization that some family traditions may have to end or change.  As parents, it is imperative to work together to help ensure that the children have as smooth of a transition possible especially during times like the holidays.

1.   Communicate With Your Ex-Spouse

Keeping the lines of communication open with your ex-spouse regarding your children’s holiday is the best way to ensure that your children have the best holiday possible.  Communication may be made by various forms such as phone, text or email.  For some exes, communicating by text or email only works best for co-parenting and to reduce any tension between the two.

2.  Listen to Your Children

If your children voice their concerns or act out with regards to any angst over the holidays, pay attention and listen.  First LISTEN and then address their concerns in an age-appropriate manner and without demeaning the other parent in any manner.  It is important that you actively listen before speaking so that your children feel as though they have been heard.

3.  Let Your Children Enjoy Celebrating Holidays Twice

With a little creativity, your children can enjoy celebrating the holidays twice.  Once with Mom and once with Dad.  A standard visitation agreement typically will split the children’s Christmas break into two periods so that each parent may spend time with the children for Christmas.  The Thanksgiving holiday may be split during the week as well.  If your children will spend time with each of you, take advantage and highlight the joy of decorating two trees, receiving two sets of presents, and eating at two separate holiday meals with family and friends gathered.  Turn the holidays into a double festive celebration for the children as opposed to a reminder of the break-up of their parents.

The above is for general information only and is not legal advice.  For your divorce or child custody consultation, contact Macon Divorce Attorney Selinda Handsford at 478-750-9006 | shandsford@handsfordlaw.com | Handsford Law PC | 743 Walnut Street, Suite 102, Macon, GA 31201