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.

Put Your Children First After a GA Divorce

Atlanta Divorce Parenting Plans | Nancy GhertnerPut Your Children’s Needs First After a Divorce in Georgia

Children can be traumatized by the breakup of their mom and dad’s marriage. All of a sudden both parents no longer live with them in the same house. “Where did Mommy or Daddy go?” they may ask.

If your children are old enough to understand what is going on, you and your spouse should sit down with them and explain that mom and dad are no longer going to be married. Reassure your children that they will always have mom and dad in their lives, even when they primarily live with the custodial parent.

I have seen a lot of clients who made the decision early on to put their kids first, regardless of how they felt about their ex. It will help all parties involved if the children can see mom and dad smiling and getting along.

Neither parent should speak ill of the other parent, nor ask a child to tell the parent what is going on in the other parent’s lives. Both of you are still role models for your children, so let them see how two grownups can interact in a healthy way.

Kids just want to be kids, which means they crave security and love from both parents. Unfortunately, I have seen situations where one or both parents harbored such hard feelings for each other that their children were subjected to angry outbursts and fighting.

Or one parent tried to undermine their ex by “forgetting” to pick up the children from school, thus frightening the children.

What Do I Do If My Ex Tries to “Sabotage” the New Parenting Agreement?

Sometimes one of the parties in a divorce simply refuses to cooperate with the new parenting plan, and takes liberties with the parenting time schedule, or allows the children to do what they want unsupervised all day.

If a judge in Georgia finds out that one or both parents are acting irresponsibly and are possibly putting their children in dangerous situations, the judge may reverse the original living arrangement and award physical custody to the other parent or legal guardian.

If a non-custodial parent demonstrates that the custodial parent has become unfit or unable to care for a child, this can also justify a custody modification.

If the situation is urgent, for example, if the custodial parent has developed a mental illness or a drug abuse problem, a Georgia court may order the affected parent to undergo a mental health evaluation, or seek help with their addiction.

Contact Atlanta family lawyer Nancy Ghertner today and meet with her to learn how to set up a parenting plan that is in the best interests of your children. Nancy’s will meet with you in her convenient Sandy Springs office at the top of the Perimeter.

Keys To Success In A Family Owned Business

Almost everyone who shops knows Walmart is the largest family owned business in the United States. The company now has 11,000 stores in 27 countries with annual worldwide net sales of more than $482 billion. The founder, Sam Walton, opened his first store in Arkansas in 1962 and, as the saying goes, the rest is history. Although Walmart is now owned by stockholders, Walmart family members own the controlling shares of stock.

In 1869, Henry John Heinz started his business making his first product: horseradish. His famous ketchup appeared on the market seven years later. It now sells 650 million bottles of ketchup every year. When John Heinz died in a plane crash in 1991, his wife Teresa took over the management of the family business.

Levi Strauss, owner of a dry goods store, became passionate about a new type of men’s pants designed by his partner, Jacob Davis.  They obtained a patent and began selling their blue jeans in 1872.  When Strauss died childless, he left the business to his two nephews, one of whom brought his son-in-law, Walter Haas, in to the business. The business is still run by Strauss and Haas descendants.

There are many other examples of family owned businesses that have thrived for years. They all have some elements in common that contribute to their longevity and success.

  • Passion: The driving force behind the success of the family owned businesses is the passion the members have for the product or business and the connection they feel to their family members as they all work together toward their common goal.
  • Values as important as wealth: The founders of the business have a compulsion to transfer their values, such as their work ethic, volunteering in the community and philanthropy, to their family members who they bring in to the business. Transferring wealth is important but takes a back seat to values. Almost all successful family businesses have a track record of philanthropy and charitable giving.
  • New generations learn from the older ones: As young family members enter the business, they are willing to listen to their older family members as mentors. They respect how the business has been conducted through the years and recognize it as key to its current success.
  • Older generations learn from the younger ones: The older generations are willing and eager to listen to the new ideas and introduction of new technology by the new family members. Both generations respect what they can learn from each other.
  • Keep the family and business reputation intact: Both generations are cognizant of the business and family reputation. They are aware that how they act outside the business and how they treat other people will reflect on the entire family and on the business.

Family members who work long hours together for the success of their business find they need to create balance. They need to respect each other and the time they each need away from the business. They also need pleasant family gatherings where they do not talk about business and enjoy being together as family members, not just business associates.

How To Ask for a Prenuptial Agreement | Georgia Prenup

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

Those that have “been there, done that” have suggestions that may make it easier for you to broach the subject with your soon-to-be spouse.

Engage in a Conversation – Let’s Talk About a Prenup

Do not start by making a demand like, “I want a prenuptial agreement.” Instead, broach it in a conversational way by saying, “Let’s talk about a prenup.” Make it clear you are not expecting your marriage to end in divorce, but 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 it is a good idea. Explain any life experience you had that leads you to believe you need this agreement to be in place before you get married.

Listen and Negotiate the Pre-Marriage Agreement Upfront

Listen to the concerns of your future spouse. Understand the objections and be willing to negotiate.  If coming to an agreement seems impossible, work with a marriage prenup mediator who can assist you in writing the agreement together.

Allow for Changes in the Final Prenuptial

The prenup covers events that have not yet happened. As time passes, there may be a need to change the terms. 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.

After the two of you have agreed to have a prenup, contact a Georgia family law attorney who will know how to draft the agreement so it meets Georgia’s prenuptial agreement legal requirements.