Stick to Court-Ordered Custody Agreements During Covid 19

These 7 excellent tips came to me from those in the know and they were so helpful that I’d like to share them with you one at a time!

Guidelines for Parents Who Are Divorced/Separated and Sharing Custody of Children During the COVID 19 Pandemic

From the leaders of groups that deal with families in crisis:

Susan Myres, President of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML)
Dr. Matt Sullivan, President of Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC)
Annette Burns, AAML and Former President of AFCC
Yasmine Mehmet, AAML
Kim Bonuomo, AAML
Nancy Kellman, AAML
Dr. Leslie Drozd, AFCC
Dr. Robin Deutsch, AFCC
Jill Pena, Executive Director of AAML
Peter Salem, Executive Director of AFCC

3 of 7. Be Compliant With Court Orders and Custody Agreements

“As much as possible, try to avoid reinventing the wheel despite the unusual circumstances. The custody agreement or court order exists to prevent endless haggling over the details of timesharing. In some jurisdictions there are even standing orders mandating that, if schools are closed, custody agreements should remain in force as though school were still in session.”

Help For Divorced Parents With Children During Covid (Tip 2 of 7)

These 7 excellent tips came to me from those in the know and they were so helpful that I’d like to share them with you one at a time!

Guidelines for Parents Who Are Divorced/Separated and Sharing Custody of Children During the COVID 19 Pandemic

From the leaders of groups that deal with families in crisis:

Susan Myres, President of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML)

Dr. Matt Sullivan, President of Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC)

Annette Burns, AAML and Former President of AFCC

Yasmine Mehmet, AAML

Kim Bonuomo, AAML

Nancy Kellman, AAML

Dr. Leslie Drozd, AFCC

Dr. Robin Deutsch, AFCC

Jill Pena, Executive Director of AAML

Peter Salem, Executive Director of AFCC

2 of 7. Be Mindful

Be honest about the seriousness of the pandemic but maintain a calm attitude and convey to your children your belief that everything will return to normal in time. Avoid making careless comments in front of the children and exposing them to endless media coverage intended for adults. Don’t leave the news on 24/7, for instance. But, at the same time, encourage your children to ask questions and express their concerns and answer them truthfully at a level that is age-appropriate. #covid19divorce, #nancyghertner, #atlantadivorcelawyer #socialdistancing

How Do I File For Divorce in Georgia?

To begin a divorce proceeding a spouse must go to Superior Court (usually in the county where the couple lives) and file a Complaint for Divorce, also known as a Petition for Divorce. There is a filing fee that must be paid to the clerk’s office at the time of filing – contact your local court for the exact amount, plus ask about any other fees that may apply.

The divorce petition is a formal and legal declaration to the court and to your spouse that you are seeking a divorce. This document also states that you are seeking relief for all other related issues such as alimony or spousal support, child custody, and equitable division of property including any outstanding debts.

A copy of the Complaint for Divorce will be served on (personally delivered to) the other spouse by a sheriff of the appropriate county, a private process server, by you, or by your divorce attorney.

Does It Matter Who Files First In a Divorce?

Legally it does not matter which spouse initiates the divorce, but of course the person filing will typically pay the filing fees mentioned above. Regardless of who files first, both parties are treated equally under the law.

Emotionally it can make a difference who files first, and I have had clients who were completely caught off guard when they were served with divorce papers. Hopefully the couple already has talked about the state of their marriage and their options before the courts get involved. Of course their relationship may be too strained for those talks to happen.

Do Both Parties Have to Pay For the Divorce?

The spouse who files for divorce in Georgia will pay the filing fee unless the other spouse agrees to cover this cost. I can help you file your Petition when you are ready and also show you how and where to file.

Each family situation is different, and over my 30-year law career I have helped couples reach an agreement regarding their financial situation so that there is an equitable outcome. Beyond court fees there will be legal fees if an attorney is hired. Personally, I ask for a retainer when you hire me, and I will return any unearned portion at the end of a case once your divorce is finalized.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in Georgia?

The answer depends on whether a divorce is simple or complicated, and how well the spouses can resolve all living arrangements and financial issues between them. Every divorce is different. Understandably, the more the two of you can agree on terms, the more both of you will save on time and on divorce attorney legal fees.

Please call my office at (770) 980-9096 if you are thinking of filing for divorce. Even if you decide to represent yourself, or hire a different Atlanta divorce lawyer, I can answer your questions and advise you on the best way to proceed.

Need Help Submitting Your Georgia 2020 Corporate Registration?

If you or your business is registered with the state of Georgia as a corporate entity, you should have received notice from the Secretary of State’s office that your annual registration and payment for 2020 is due by April 1, 2020. I can help you fill out the online registration form and guide you through the process. If you would like to make changes to your corporation then I can help you achieve those as well.

Businesses require precise, professional, and experienced representation. I keep up with changes in incorporation law and recent court cases that could have an impact on your business revenue and operations.

30-Year Veteran Business Law Attorney and Business Owner at Your Service

I take pride in delivering top-notch services in a cost-effective way. I also understand that time is money for a business owner. Perhaps a legal check-up is needed. Together we can discuss solutions and options completely personalized to your situation.

Call me at (770) 980-9096 if you have questions about the SOS corporate registration and payment submittal process. It is very important that you submit your registration and payment on time.

According to the official notice issued by the GA Secretary of State’s office, “Your annual registration must be postmarked by April 1, 2020. If your annual registration and payment are not postmarked by the April 1st deadline, you will be assessed a $25.00 late filing penalty fee and/or your entity may be administratively dissolved or revoked by the Secretary of State.”

You can file your annual registration online with a credit card at https://ecorp.sos.ga.gov. The Corporations Division accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and ATM/Debit Cards with the Visa or MasterCard logo for online filings only. The annual registration fees are: $50 for profit corporations, LLCs, and LPs; $30 for nonprofit corporations; and $25 for foreign LLPs.

If you want to mail your registration form along with a check you must follow certain rules to ensure your payment is processed for 2020. I have years of experience filling out these forms by the non-negotiable deadline and using the correct form of payment required. Call me at (770) 980-9096 anytime you have questions about the GA SOS corporate registration process, or other year-end business questions.

All Business Law Practice Areas Covered

My Sandy Springs law firm, Nancy N. Ghertner, P.C., specializes in the following Business Law practice areas:

Formation of Corporations, LLCs and Related Documentation

Start-Up Business Planning and Consulting

Business Contracts

Buy-Sell Agreements

Buying and/or Selling a Business

Shareholder Agreements

Security Agreements

Operating Agreements

Advisory Services for Ongoing Business Legal Needs

Employment Agreements

Independent Contractor Agreements

Call (770) 980-9096 and get a free 10-minute phone consultation with 30-year veteran Business Law Attorney Nancy Ghertner.

How to Tell Your Kids You’re Getting a Divorce

The holiday season is upon us, and there are lots of opportunities to create joyous moments with family and friends. However, not everyone is full of tidings of comfort and joy, especially spouses who have really tried to hold their marriage together “for the kids” but now feel that a divorce is inevitable. How do you tell your kids about a major change in their young lives, and when do you tell them? Should you wait until after the holidays when things aren’t so hectic?

The answers will be different depending on how old your children are. For this article I am talking about children who are pre-teens or younger. Through working with many clients as a divorce attorney in Atlanta I have found that the best approach is for mom and dad to sit down together with their children, and beforehand agree on what to say, and how best to say it.

Emotions will naturally want to spill out, including unhelpful ones, so I recommend that both spouses focus on the needs of their children. Kids want security and routine and they will want to know where mom or dad is going to live, and how things will be different.

Before you ask the kids to gather for a family talk, I suggest that you and your spouse decide ahead of time who is going to speak first. Usually this person will be the one who is filing for divorce, but the other spouse should be supportive regardless of how they feel about the breakup. The goal here is to reassure the kids that they will be safe and loved even though the living arrangements are changing. Remember to tell your kids that this is a permanent change so that they don’t hold out hope for a reunion of mom and dad.

If you can hold off on having this courageous conversation until after the holidays, that may work out better for everyone. I am available anytime to talk to you about how to file for a divorce in Georgia and answer any questions you have.

Divorced Parents: Keep Your Cool During Back to School

This may be the first school year that you experience as a divorced single parent, but you’ll make it happen! Getting everyone ready for back to school is tough enough when a couple is still together and in one household, but the degree of difficulty ramps up when there are two households. Each parent should commit to providing the best environment for their child when it comes to studying, eating a healthy breakfast, and providing a healthy lunch.

Try to get your child to the bus stop on time or drop them off at school before the bell rings. Your kids don’t need that added stress as they are figuring out how to cope with new schools and/or a new normal.

If your ex-spouse is picking up your child for school in the morning, please don’t make your son or daughter intentionally late so that your ex must wait outside in the car. The other parent’s time is just as valuable and precious as yours. Be considerate and you will be treated with the same consideration. Plus, your child will learn about healthy negotiation and responsibility.

When the kids stay with you on school nights, give them a quiet space to do their homework, and make sure they aren’t distracted by a loud TV or phone conversations. I know there may be lingering ill feelings and hurt after a divorce but try to put these emotions on the shelf. Remember that just because you are no longer husband and wife, you are still parents.

If you and your ex-spouse share school pick up duties, make sure the school knows you both are authorized to pick up the kids. That may sound like a no-brainer, but you have to realize that teachers and administrators are very cautious, especially when the situation involves divorced parents. One parent may not have the legal right to be with his or her child.

If it is your night to have the kids over during the week, have them lay out their clothes the night before and make their lunches. This is a great opportunity for your child to learn planning and preparedness and to see the benefits. In the morning, the kids should be well-groomed and dressed appropriately. What you want to avoid is having a homeroom teacher say something to your disheveled child like, “Oh, did you spend the night at your dad’s/mom’s?”

Children always are going to need their mom AND their dad to help them excel during each new school year. Even though your marriage ended, your parenting job is lifetime employment. You can fulfill this precious role by bringing your kids to their doctor and dentist appointments, bringing vaccination records to school, and chipping in some extra cash for school supplies. If you start feeling overwhelmed, remember to keep on smiling and chopping wood. It will get better for everyone.

Should I Tell My Ex the Trip Details When I Take the Kids on Vacation?

By: Nancy Ghertner, Atlanta Family Lawyer

Nancy Ghertner Atlanta Divorce Lawyer

It’s Spring Break time, and soon enough after that it’s summer vacation time. If you have the kids for Spring Break and plan to travel either out of town or out of the country with them, experience has shown that it’s best for all – both parents and children – to let the other parent know where you and the children are going, where you and the children will stay, and how best to reach the children. Even if your divorce decree does not require you to provide this information to the other parent, following this practice may be good for the long term.

The first thing I would advise (assuming it really is your year to be with the children over Spring Break) is to give the other parent enough notice that you are going on vacation, not as a last-minute throwaway but as a focused and respectful sharing of information about your common interest, your children. Share as many details as are available.

I have heard from parents who were surprised when their ex-spouse casually said, “Hey, remember we talked about this. I’m taking the kids to _________ (anywhere, even out of the country) for Spring Break.” Try your best to provide at least 30 days advance notice of your planned departure – the more lead time the better.

While usually not a legal issue (but if it were the whole episode could turn into a nightmarish international child abduction case), sending the other parent an email that contains flights, hotels, cities visiting, and best way to contact the children just may lead to an increased likelihood that when it’s the non-traveling parent’s turn to take the kids on vacation, they will extend to you this same courtesy.

It might be necessary also to get the non-traveling parent to write and sign a letter that says he/she is aware that the kids are traveling alone with you and gives you full permission to do so. Again, taking this step may not be legally binding per your final agreement, but when travel to another country is involved, such a written letter may come in handy. Also, sometimes cruise lines and/or airlines require such proof from the non-traveling parent – check on that ahead of time.

I wouldn’t recommend it, but if your new significant other is traveling with you, as a courtesy, I have a few suggestions to be carried out well ahead of time. Let the other parent know that the new significant other will be accompanying you with the children. If the other parent has never met this person try to have him/her meet your ex before the trip. This can get tricky and emotions might flare, especially if this is a brand-new relationship in your life, but the children’s other parent is entitled to that courtesy.

All this caution comes down to reassuring the non-traveling parent that his/her children are safe and with responsible adults during their trip.

Believe me, your children will pay attention to how well you treat and respect each other, and isn’t that what you want to teach them about healthy relationships? And on the practical side you may need your ex to take in the mail for you and keep an eye on your place while you and his/her children are away. It’s pretty much back to a variation of The Golden Rule – treat your former spouse as you would want them to treat you so that everyone can relax and enjoy their vacation time.

Georgia Antenuptial (Prenuptial and Postnuptial) Law Changes for 2019

By: Nancy Ghertner, Atlanta Family Lawyer

How to Do a Georgia Prenup

A new marriage agreement law (HB 190) was passed recently by the Georgia House of Representatives that now requires a prenup or postnup agreement to be in writing, signed by both parties, and attested to by a notary and at least one witness. Prior to the passage of this change in the law a prenup or postnup could be made verbally and still hold up in court.

I can help you craft a legally-binding document that protects your individual assets and ensures your financial directives (wills and probate) to children from a previous marriage stay intact.

How to Have a Healthy Prenup Conversation with Your Fiancé

You are in love and are planning to get married, but first you want a prenuptial agreement (Georgia prenup) in writing. The subject is an emotional one since it brings up the possibility of a divorce into the otherwise loving moments of wedding and honeymoon planning.

I would suggest you begin the conversation with your fiancé by saying something like, “Honey, let’s talk about a prenup.” Make it clear you are not expecting your marriage to end in divorce but instead you view a prenup the same as an insurance policy. No one expects to ever have to use it for an emergency, but it is nice to know it is there just in case.

Be clear about why you think a prenup is a good idea. Explain any life experience you had that leads you to believe you need this agreement before you get married. For example, you could say something like, “After my first marriage ended, I was financially disadvantaged for years and I just can’t go through that again.”

If You Didn’t Do a Prenup Before the Wedding, You Can Always Prepare a Postnup Now

A postnup covers the same marital decisions as a prenup. The only difference is a postnup can be prepared after you have been married. You may feel more comfortable talking about a postnup with your spouse after your relationship has grown stronger. I have worked for over 30 years with married couples who decided to get a postnup done for their own piece of mind. Once put in writing, signed by both spouses in front of a notary and one other witness (me), you can throw the document in a drawer and forget about it – go be happily married forever!

Allow for Changes in the Final Prenuptial or Postnuptial

As time passes and life events unfold (babies born, career changes, major health issues) there may be a need to change the terms of the agreement. Provide for this contingency in your original plan. You can also add a “sunset clause” provision whereby the agreement will expire on a certain date.

One area of family law that cannot be included in a prenup or postnup is child support and child custody. In case a divorce is inevitable after you have children, a family law judge will decide who the children live with, and which spouse will make support payments.

Marriage is both a social contract and a financial partnership. The more comfortable and secure you feel about your shared financial growth as a couple, the better the union.