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.

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.

Alimony in Georgia | Who Pays Who? | Divorce Lawyer

Alimony in Georgia | Who Pays Who | Divorce LawyerAlimony in Georgia is where one party makes spousal support payments to the other following a divorce. Under Georgia law, an award of alimony is not automatic, but either spouse may request recurring financial support from the other.

In some cases, the parties are amicable and agree between themselves about alimony payments. When they cannot agree, the court will decide if the requesting party is eligible to receive alimony and, if so, the amount and duration of the award.

If you are seeking alimony from your ex-spouse, or you are being asked to pay too much alimony, call Atlanta divorce lawyer Nancy Ghertner at (770) 980-9096 and let her meet with you and explain your options and obligations. Nancy has been a divorce lawyer in Atlanta for over 30 years.

A Georgia court will not order alimony be paid to a person who either abandoned the family or committed adultery. In other cases, the court may order either rehabilitative or permanent alimony after considering all relevant factors.

What Happens When Both Parties Consent to Alimony?

When two spouses agree that one will pay alimony to the other, and they also agree on all relevant terms, such as the amount that will be paid and the duration of the payments, they put their agreement in writing and file it with the court.

If the court accepts their agreement, it becomes part of the court orders in the final divorce decree. The parties will be bound by their agreement, and it will be enforceable the same as any other court order.

Rehabilitative or Permanent Alimony?

When alimony is requested, the court evaluates each case individually. The amount of monthly alimony is set based on the needs of the requesting spouse and ability of the other spouse to pay. Alimony generally falls into two categories:

  • Rehabilitative alimony – paid for a set period of time to give the requesting spouse time to complete training or education in order to be able to support themselves.
  • Permanent alimony – may be awarded after a long-term marriage. `

When the spouses cannot agree on whether alimony should be paid, how much should be paid and for how long, the court will consider the following factors in making an alimony order:

  • The length of the marriage.
  • The length of time one party may need in order to become gainfully employed.
  • Whether one party contributed time and effort toward the professional career of the other.
  • Whether the party requesting alimony gave up a career in order to take care of the home and children.
  • The age and health of each party.
  • The standard of living each enjoyed during the marriage.
  • The financial resources of each party including property that was divided during the divorce settlement.
  • Future earning capacity of each party.
  • Ability of one party to pay support to the other.
  • Any other factor the court deems relevant.

Do I Still Have to Pay Alimony if My Ex Remarries?

If permanent alimony is ordered, unless the parties have agreed to a different arrangement, it will terminate if the receiving spouse remarries. Permanent alimony may also terminate if, according to a Georgia statute, the receiving spouse dwells “together continuously and openly in a meretricious relationship with another person, regardless of the sex of the other person.”

Call Atlanta family lawyer Nancy N. Ghertner at her Sandy Springs office and ask her about your alimony payment options. Nancy has negotiated alimony payment plans for over 30 years, and she is dedicated to getting you the full alimony you deserve.

What To Do With The Marital Home In A Divorce

marital home and divorceWhen it comes to dividing assets and liabilities between two spouses during their divorce process,Georgia is an equitable distribution state. This means the division is one that the family law court considers is fair, not necessarily equal.This includes the marital home which is often the most financially valuable asset the couple owns together. When both parties have an emotional and sentimental attitude toward the home and children are involved who still live there and do not want to move, what to do with the marital home may be complicated.

Although there are several possible solutions, they all begin with having the property appraised to determine its fair market value. Then, any debts owed relevant to the property, like the mortgage and taxes, are deducted to determine the equity, which is the amount that needs to be divided.

Selling the home to a third party

The easiest solution seems to be to sell the home to a third party. When the sale goes through, the amount will be distributed by the court under the principles of equitable distribution. One party may receive more of the home equity than the other after the court considers all relevant factors to a fair distribution.

One party buys out the equity interest in the property from the other

Either party can buy out the interest of the other based on the amount of equity in the home. The home will likely need to be refinanced which provides for the deed to the home to be placed in the name of the buying spouse, removes the selling spouse from liability and debt that comes with being a joint owner and provides the money to the other spouse for the buy-out.

Delayed distribution

When there are minor children and the court finds it would be in their best interest to continue living in the home, Georgia courts may order a delayed distribution of the equity of the home. The court may establish a timeline for the property to be sold. For example, the court may order the house to be sold when the youngest child graduates from high school or reaches the age of 18.

The court will consider all relevant factors and determine whether or not the party that will not be living in the marital home will have an obligation to pay for any of the expenses for the property, such as the mortgage, maintenance or taxes.

Co-Parenting During the Christmas Holidays

Pic for December BlogContrary to a popular song frequently heard during the holiday season, Christmas may not be the happiest time of the year for divorced parents and their children. While movies and even greeting card advertisements focus on families being together to celebrate the holidays, this generally is not the way it works for a family divided by divorce.

Parents struggle with balancing the interests of their children while they both want to spend time holiday time with them. This is true whether the holiday is Christmas, Kwanza or Chanukah, all of which are celebrated during December this year. Then, there is New Year’s falling closely behind. Although it will likely never be easy, there are a few things you and the other parent can do to make the holiday celebrations fun and less stressful for your children.

  1. Plan ahead for time. Have discussions with the children and the other parent and plan for when the children will be with each parent. Acknowledge with your children that things have changed and there is now a new way of doing things. Emphasize the positive parts of the plan. Be sure the plan is in keeping with your court order regarding holiday visitation.
  2. Plan ahead for gifts. Discuss with the other parent gift-giving to the children. Avoid duplication and competition with each other. Also, help the children choose or make a gift for the other parent.
  3. Compromise. If one parent wants to take the children on a holiday trip and the other wants to have the children on the specific holiday day, compromise. One parent could spend the actual holiday with the children and the one who takes the children on a vacation trip could arrange to leave the day after.
  4. Begin new traditions, but incorporate past ones when possible. You may still enjoy sitting by the fireplace and reading holiday stories or watching a holiday movie. Add something new like making a holiday dinner on a day other than the actual holiday.
  5. Relieve your children of guilt and acknowledge their disappointment. Children have conflicting emotions during the holiday season. They may feel guilty when they are having fun without one parent, or disappointed when they would prefer to be with the other parent. Let them know these feelings are normal. Also, be sure they know that you miss them, but encourage them to have fun even when they are not with you.