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Cherokee County Divorce Law Blog

Dealing with children during a divorce

Georgia parents who are thinking about getting a divorce may be understandably hesitant for fear of its potential impact on their children. While ending a marriage can be difficult for young children, it's possible to act in a way that provides for their well-being and avoids inflicting a needless amount of stress on them in the process.

A child's personal happiness is likely to be one of the most important concerns during a divorce. Children do not always understand the reasons why their parents are seeking a split, and a little consideration at this stage of the process can go a long way. Though one parent may hold quite negative feelings about the other, they should avoid voicing them to their child. Not only can alienating a child from one parent negatively impact their mental health, it can have great consequences during the divorce itself if the alienated parent accuses the other of wrongdoing.

Prenuptial agreements becoming more popular

More and more people in Georgia and around the country are deciding to enter into prenuptial agreements before they marry, with the agreements especially becoming more popular with millennials. There are several reasons why these agreements may be a good idea for those who are getting married, but they must be written in a manner that is legally valid in order to stand up in court.

The primary purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to provide a formal contract with which the parties can protect their assets and financial interests in the event their marriage ends. Even young couples without many assets may use prenuptial agreements to plan for future earnings and how those will be handled. Many young people also use prenuptial agreements so they won't be held responsible for their spouse's student loan debt if they later divorce.

Some financial aspects to look out for during a divorce

Georgia residents who are contemplating a divorce may be interested to learn more about how some problems can be prevented. The end of a marriage can indeed be a complicated affair, but an understanding of some of the most commonly made mistakes can go a long way toward mitigating whatever damage might arise.

Though divorce can be an emotional experience for all involved, emotions can also distract the attention from what's truly important. As such, one of the best means to avoid incurring damage from poor decisions is to see whether divorce mediation is advisable. This can also assist a divorcing couple in dividing their property in a satisfactory manner after each has delivered a complete accounting of their assets.

Divorce and Social Security benefits planning

Georgians who are wanting to divorce but who have been married for less than 10 years may want to wait until they've hit the decade mark before filing. This is especially true in marriages in which one spouse has had a stay-at-home role or in those in which there is a large income disparity between the two.

A person who reaches retirement age may opt to get retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration based on their former spouse's earnings record. Divorced people are only able to do this if their marriage lasted at least 10 years. If a couple divorces and then remarries within the same year, the time is additive and may still qualify them. However, if more than a year passes between a divorce and remarriage, the remarriage will not be added to the length of the prior marriage for eligibility.

Steps to reduce conflict between divorced parents

Many divorcing Georgia couples hope for a clean break and a fresh start, but those with children will often have to spend considerable time with each other. Divorced parents may feel that coming to an agreement regarding custody arrangements and visitation schedules is the most difficult part of the process, but moving on and working together as a parenting team is sometimes hard for them as well.

The arguments and discord that often precede a divorce can be extremely traumatic for children, and they risk ongoing psychological damage when divorced parents continue to bicker and quarrel over custody and visitation issues. Former spouses hoping to avoid this pitfall may wish to develop a more businesslike approach to parenting, and they should strive to speak to one another as if they were conversing with their child's schoolteacher or coach.

Holidays may be more stressful in divorced households

Georgia parents who have obtained a divorce or who have been considering ending their marriage might already be aware of the difficulties associated with the holiday season. Since both parents usually want to be with their child or children during the Christmas season, there is often a conflict of interest between the two parents. It is a well known fact that family courts have a heavier caseload around the holiday season.

Experts on custody issues advise using creativity, negotiation and compromise to navigate the holiday minefield with a minimum of hurt feelings. Authorities on the issue note that flexibility can make problems like the holidays much less overwhelming.

"Teen Mom" star regains custody

Some California television watchers may be familiar with Amber Portwood, who made her debut as a teenager on the popular show 'Teen Mom." Portwood had a daughter with Gary Shirley and became involved in substance abuse that put her custody of the girl in jeopardy. After being charged with felony domestic abuse in 2011, Portwood lost custody of her daughter to the father, who was allegedly assaulted by Portwood on multiple occasions.

During trial, Portwood asked the judge to send her to prison so she could deal with her addiction issues. While she was initially sentenced to five years in prison, she spent 17 months before being released in 2013. After overcoming her substance addiction issues, Portwood regained custody of her daughter in a long and adversarial custody battle.

Same-sex couples and prenuptial agreements

Some Georgia couples enter into prenuptial agreements before they get married in order to protect themselves in the event of a divorce. While many younger people who have few assets when they get married often decide a prenuptial agreement isn't worth the expense or don't want to discuss it with their future spouses, people getting married for the second time often do decide it's a good idea.

With the legalization of same-sex marriage across the nation, many same-sex couples who have lived together for years but who were previously unable to marry are doing so now that they can. These couples may have accumulated significant assets over the length of their relationships together.

On child custody issues in same-sex marriages

Many same-sex couples living in Georgia were delighted when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2015 that same-sex marriages were legal across the country. However, the expanding definition of marriage under state and federal law has led to unforeseen ramifications in family courts.

Although the Supreme Court has made it clear that same-sex marriages are to be given the same status by law as heterosexual marriages, this does not necessarily shed light on parenting and custody issues. For example, the same-sex parents of a child may experience difficulty if they have a divorce and seek to divide custody and visitation rights. This is especially true when the relationship between the spouses has become adversarial. If the law lacks a specific mechanism to recognize a non-biological parent, then that parent may have to fight for their custodial rights in court.

Preparing for the unexpected, including divorce

Happily married couples in Georgia may not expect divorce to happen to them, but financial experts say it could still be a good idea to be prepared for the possibility of marriage ending, just in case. Preparing for a divorce that is not expected could be viewed in the same light as preparing for other unexpected events such as house fires, accidents or job losses.

Finances are sometimes a closed subject in marriages, and this can lead to difficulties during the divorce process. Open discussion between spouses about finances and equal involvement by both in financial decisions is recommended by financial advisers. They suggest that each spouse be aware of what is being purchased, be familiar with all debts and be involved in tax return preparations.

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