Georgia Divorce Attorneys -- Divorce Advice
Attorney William H. Sherman & attorney Valerie W. Sherman know that families can be very complicated. And for many facing a family law matter, the future can feel uncertain, overwhelmingly complex and downright scary. Having served many, many clients over the years, the Sherman Law Group divorce lawyers have successfully represented clients in all types of family law cases, from basic divorces, to complex property and financial cases, to cases on the leading edge of family law practice with novel legal issues.
We are results-driven & focused
Because of our results-driven focus on our clients, we keep up-to-date on the latest laws, cases and developments in Georgia divorce and family law. Every Sherman Law Group client benefits from our firm's extensive experience, professional leadership and our unique commitment to exceptional client service. Centrally-located in Roswell, Georgia, with a satellite office in Cumming, GA, the Sherman Law Group stands ready to address all your divorce law and family law issues. We are ready to work with you to ensure that your rights and future are secure.
Divorce Is Never Easy
Divorce is never easy. In fact, divorce is one of the biggest crises you may ever face in your entire life. During this very difficult time, it is important to have an experienced family law attorney to support and guide you through the entire divorce process. Attorneys looking out for your best interests. The attorneys at the Sherman Law Group are your advocates. They are experienced and ready to discuss your goals, formulate effective, winning strategies, and arrive at the strongest settlement possible.
Residency Requirements (When Can I File?)
Many people ask about residency requirements to file for divorce in Georgia. You must live in Georgia six months before you can file for a divorce. If you live on a military base, you can file in a year. If you are a non-resident of Georgia, you can file a divorce against a resident of Georgia who has lived for at least six months in the Georgia county in which you file the divorce action.
How Long Does It Take? (When Can I Be Divorced?)
As for timing, a question often asked is how long does it take to get a divorce in Georgia? Court's usually handle divorce matters on the court's regular schedule. But sometimes a court decision can take a number of months. However, sometimes the court can conclude a divorce in as little as 31 days after the divorce is served on the other party. But this applies only when both parties sign an agreement so there are no outstanding issues for a court to decide.
I have been served with Divorce Papers. What do I do?
If you have been formally served with paperwork seeking a divorce, you must contact an attorney immediately. If you have been served, you need to take action within a specified amount of time or face a possible default judgment which can severely impact your rights. Again, if you receive any legal documents referring to a divorce, contact an attorney immediately.
How Do I Find Out How Much Money My Spouse Really Has?
A divorce starts with service of process. Then the parties have time, pursuant to Georgia law, to conduct discovery to seek information and documentation necessary to adequately present his or her case. This part of the divorce process is commonly referred to as discovery. Both spouses are required to disclose certain documents to the other spouse during this stage of the divorce process. Some items that must be disclosed can include:
- copies of federal and state income tax returns
- recent paycheck stubs
- business records, including financial statements and payroll documents
- bank account statements
- credit card statements
- copies of deeds and titles to real property
Divorcing spouses have the right to seek additional information through subpoenas, discovery requests for documentation, and depositions, which allow the attorneys an opportunity to question the other spouse. The parties can retain expert witnesses, such as accountants and real estate appraisers.
You Do Not Have to Do Full-Blown Discovery
Many times spouses can resolve the issues in their case to avoid or significantly lessen the need to participate in discovery. Couples may find discovery to be burdensome, time-consuming and costly. The parties can proceed to negotiate the terms of the divorce between themselves with their attorneys and address all of the issues in the case.
Here's Our Commitment to You:
If you are planning to divorce, your attorney at the Sherman Law Group, conveniently located in North Fulton County and Forsyth County, will begin the process by simply listening and understanding to what you want to accomplish. Our practice believes in building the strongest possible relationships with clients because while every divorce is difficult and presents its own unique issues, no divorce case is ever the same as another. Before forming a legal strategy, we need to know your specific situation, your values, and your top priorities. We handle our clients "one case at a time" with a commitment to detailed, exacting knowledge of your legal and financial situation and goals. You will always be treated with respect and never left in the dark about the details and status of your case. Communication is vital and your phone calls and email will be returned or responded to promptly.
Here are some of our goals:
- Educate and inform our clients about the law, court procedures and what path should be taken forward.
- Set the groundwork for and encourage an amicable path forward for a fair settlement.
- Use common-sense solutions to control legal costs and charge reasonable fees to keep your divorce affordable.
- Fight, when necessary, to protect the safety of children or to obtain a fair property settlement or other important result.
Safeguard Your Children From Divorce Conflicts (Agree To Reduce Stress For The Kids)
Always remember is important to keep children away from the issues that arise in divorce. Kids do not need to know the reasons for a divorce. Spouses may be mad at each other for many reasons: someone may have cheated, there may be money issues, there may be conflicts about drug addiction or alcohol abuser, but young children don't need to know about these things. Professionals who deal regularly with divorcing couples such as lawyers, judges, therapists, counselors, psychologists, pastors and psychiatrists believe that young children can only be harmed by hearing allegations against a parent. Both spouses should agree upfront that the children should be protected as much as possible from the stress of divorce. This will help to limit the effects of divorce on children.
Helping Your Child Through Divorce: What Kids Need
From a child's perspective, here are some things parents should keep in mind:
- stay involved as much as possible in your child's life: be actively involved
- don't fight in front of the child: keep kids from hearing arguments
- communicate directly with the other parent so that the kid is not a go-between for messages: that's a lot of pressure for a youngster
- try to say nice things about the other parent: criticizing the other parent only causes stress, frustration and resentment from the child
6 Most Common Reasons For Divorce
As divorce attorneys we're often asked what are the most common reasons for divorce. Here are some of the most prevalent:
- Communication breakdown
- Money issues
- Personality problems
- Sexual problems
- Alcohol/drug problems
How to Prove Adultery
We get many questions about adultery. It is not easy to prove adultery. The burden of proof is on the complainant to prove adultery. Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with adultery issues:
- mere accusations mean nothing
- public displays of affection such as kissing, hugging, groping and hand holding can demonstrate to a court an adulterous disposition
- opportunity to commit adultery can be demonstrated through various specific circumstances (for example, the complainant may infer that the defendant had an opportunity to commit adultery when he was seen entering his paramour's home at 11:00 p.m. and leaving at 6 a.m).
- typically, adulterous acts are conducted in private, so a court will permit the complainant to introduce proof of adultery by circumstantial inference or presumption
But remember, mere suspicion will not be enough to prove adultery so you need to present evidence that shows the court that adultery likely occurred.
Pornography Addiction Is Increasingly Becoming An Issue
We are seeing an increasing amount of allegations of pornography addiction leading to divorce. With Internet usage increasing on desktop computers, smart phones and all sorts of mobile devices, the porn industry is booming. Studies have shown that for many people viewing it, porn acts like a drug. And similar to a heroin, cocaine or morphine addiction, studies have indicated that higher "dosages" of pornography are required to reach the same "high." As a partner becomes more dependent on porn, he or she will devote increasing amounts of time to viewing it. Often this leads to neglect of a spouse.
What about rights to property and support
Most of the time, assets and debts acquired during the marriage are equally divided. But inheritances, gifts and pre-marital property are usually excluded.
Spousal support or alimony may be appropriate depending on the circumstances. A Georgia court will consider earnings disparity, length of the marriage, the need for education and medical problems.
Child support may be court-ordered for children who have not turned age 18 or graduated from high school.
What about unmarried parents?
In determining the rights between unmarried parents, the standard used by the court is the same as that which is used for married parents --- deciding what is in the best interest of the child.
Just like with married parents, a court can grant unmarried parents shared parenting or designate one parent as the residential and legal custodian while granting parenting time to the non-custodial parent. Matters concerning children of unmarried parents are heard in the Superior Court in Georgia.
I got served with divorce papers. What do I do?
After you are served with divorce pleadings, call The Sherman Law Group to schedule a consultation. Once you retain our legal services, we will review the pleadings with you and prepare a response on your behalf for filing with the Court.
If you do not file a written response, the Court could enter a default judgment against you.
How do I support myself or see my children if a divorce is pending?
In some cases, Temporary Orders are needed to determine various issues, including where each party will live, when each party will see the children, and how each party will be financially supported and pay bills.
Temporary Orders are Court Orders and can be determined by the Court's decision or upon an agreement (called a Stipulation) between the parties. Temporary Orders remain in effect during the time it takes to complete your divorce case.
Temporary Orders could cover issues of: child support, temporary custody, temporary use of personal property and/or bank accounts, maintenance, temporary use of the marital residence, and temporary allocation of debts.
Technically, under Georgia law, these orders are temporary and should have no bearing on the final outcome of your divorce. But in reality, many courts continue temporary orders as permanent orders if they are reasonable and appropriate in your case, especially orders regarding child custody and placement of your children.
What if I don't want to go to trial?
Many people don't want to have a trial, they just want to ensure that they are being treated fairly and are getting all they are entitled to. Oftentimes, settlement negotiations and mediation help resolve conflicts.
What if my spouse left me for another man or woman? What if they are living with another person?
One party's cheating or infidelity is usually irrelevant in most Georgia divorce cases. In most cases, the cheating does not impact dividing property, setting child support or other financial matters, although it can under certain circumstances.
Its impact can be on child custody, however, if the boyfriend or girlfriend has a negative or harmful effect on the minor children.
Will the children have to be involved in the process?
Only if you and your spouse do not agree on the terms of custody will your children will be involved.
Sometimes a court will appoint a guardian ad litem to conduct an investigation and report to the court as to what the guardian's recommendation is as to the best interest of the child.
Can I and my spouse hire the same divorce lawyer?
Georgia law and ethics rules strictly prohibit one divorce lawyer from officially representing both spouses at the same time.
I've heard about collaborative divorce. Do you do collaborative divorce?
Yes, we do collaborative divorce.
In collaborative divorce, both parties commit at the outset to a holistice, negotiated and mutually acceptable solution to all issues without court intervention.
Collaborative divorce is done to save time, money and to reach an agreement that is amicable to both parties. The goal to to decide issues together, without the need for a judge.
What if I have a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
Pre-nuptial agreements are usually a great idea. Prenups are enforceable in Georgia and, if written properly, may strictly define the distribution of property and/or the award of alimony when you get divorced. If you have a prenup, bring it to the attention of your lawyer at your first meeting.
What about the children?
If the parties cannot agree, then a a judge will make decisions based on the “best interests of the children.” This can be the subject of much disagreement and is often the most difficult part of a divorce case.
To help the court decide, the court will often seek the assistance of a guardian ad litem, whose job is to investigate the children's circumstances and prepare a recommendation to the court based on what he or she believes is in the children's best interests.
Child support is usually based on Georgia's Child Support Guidelines and can often therefore be estimated accurately by a knowledgeable attorney, so long as each party accurately reports his or her income.
What if my spouse does not respond to the summons and complaint?
If your spouse (the respondent) does not respond to the summons and complaint after 30 days then he or she is in default. In this case, the petitioner wins and for the most part obtains what they asked for. That's why it is so important that if you are served with divorce papers you need to contact an attorney immediately.
How does mediation help?
Mediation can be a cost-effective, efficient process where you are actively involved in deciding your future and that of your family. It is usually much more effective than litigation, not only from a cost standpoint, but also from an emotional standpoint. Since decisions are not made by a judge, it is a way to handle everything in a private manner, with the assistance of a skilled mediator that we are involved in selecting.
If I don't sign anything, my spouse can't get a divorce in Georgia. Right?
No, that's wrong. If your spouse has properly filed for a divorce in Georgia, and you have been properly served (which doesn't require you to sign anything), and then you do nothing, your spouse can receive a default judgment of divorce in Georgia.
If you fail to respond to the court in writing by filing an answer to the complaint, the default judgement of divorce in Georgia could award him/her everything he/she requests.
What if my spouse is hiding money, income or assets?
We have deal with this problem all of the time. It is actually far more common than most people realize. If your spouse is concealing assets, we will work with you to find hidden money, income or property using all means legally available.
We can send subpoenas to employers, businesses, banks, brokerages, hedge funds and close friends or relatives of a spouse. And when appropriate and necessary, we will work with forensic accountants, highly-regarded private investigators and other noted professionals to help trace and locate the hidden money, income or assets.
Will my spouse get everything?
No, your spouse will not get everything. In Georgia, courts will attempt to divide the property of both spouses equitably (fairly) looking at a number of factors, including:
- the potential earning power of each spouse (what job experience does each have?)
- the length of the marriage (have you been married 5 years or 25 years?)
- the assets each spouse brought into the marriage (did one spouse already own a home, stocks, bonds, a business?)
Will my medical, phone and email records and social media accounts be scrutinized during my divorce?
You should assume they will be. Social media postings, text messages and emails are often used as evidence in divorce cases. And opposing counsel can even request that a judge order you to release your private medical records. And maybe the judge will grant that request.
Medical records may be relevant when children are involved. Of course disclosures must be done in accordance with HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), but if a judge orders medical records be released, even though they are private, the provider can be forced to release those records.
Parental Alienation: So many lies....
Sadly, some spouses spread lies to their children about the other parent. Young children are highly impressionable and may lack the ability to separate truth from fiction. Children are likely to believe the lies a parent tells. Sometimes a parent may succeed in poisoning a child's mind against the other parent, resulting in a condition sometimes called "parental alienation."
The parent who is the victim of these lies and manipulation (along with the child) faces a difficult legal and personal situation. The question becomes: How can a parent prove in court that the other parent manipulated the child?
Parental alienation is difficult to prove, but those facing it can take certain helpful steps to successfully defend themselves and combat alienation. They must remain calm, refrain from retaliation, and carefully document evidence whenever possible. Ultimately, a case can be built and the truth about a parent will eventually become clear in the eyes of both the court and the child.
What information is needed to start the process....?
A common question divorce clients ask is what information is needed to start divorce proceedings. That information includes:
- your cell phone and home phone number
- home address and email address
- your date of marriage
- the names and ages of children
- both spouses' employment information
- and incomes
Your assets include bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicles, stocks or bonds, jewelry, collections, etc., while your liabilities include mortgages, credit card debt, personal loans, student loans, etc.
Why do some people cheat?
As divorce and family law attorneys we are constantly dealing with the issue of why men (and sometimes women, of course) cheat. Here are some reasons:
- Testosterone Levels: It's a medical fact, men who have high levels of testosterone have higher sex drives.
- Visual stimulation: Men are simply more visually stimulated than females. That's the way he's wired. That's why men are more susceptible to pornography than women.
- Age Matters: Again, the brain is involved. The prefrontal cortex is a part of the brain that helps us with good judgment calls. This part of the male's brain is not fully developed until age 25. That's why men under the age of 25 make many bad judgment calls.
- Dopamine & PEA: When the dopamine (linked to the sex drive) and PEA (phenylethylamine), a natural chemical compound that is associated with psychoactive drugs, like cocaine and ecstasy, get flowing, it's difficult for some men to control themselves.
What happens if a former spouse does not comply with the divorce decree?
Once divorced, if a former spouse does not fulfill his or her obligations under the divorce decree, the other spouse can bring a legal action to compel him or her to do so. Common issues for contempt proceedings can include child support, alimony and debt matters. A judge can find the non-compliant party in contempt and make an award. And that award can include attorneys' fees.
Co-parenting: The "big 3"
Think about how your actions and decisions are affecting your child. Take some time and look at things from your child's perspective.
You and your ex don't have to be friends. But you do need to work together and make good decisions for your children.
You really don't need your friends and relatives taking “shots” at your ex. Just focus on the kids and not the details of your breakup.
Doctors can help children of divorcing parents
Historically divorce was viewed as a short-term family crisis for children. Views, however, have changed. We now know that divorce affects children individually, according to their coping mechanisms and their own stages of development.
Many problems and concerns previously attributed to divorce actually have roots in the period of familial interaction before the divorce and in ongoing conflicts in many families after the divorce.
Family physicians, as objective observers with whom the family comes into regular contact, are well-positioned to assist families transitioning due to divorce and to intervene on behalf of the children to help them through this stressful life event.
Counseling, group therapy, and divorce mediation can be effective tools for intervention.
Suspect your spouse of cheating? Here are some 5 classic signs:
Social media usage: People are using social media all the time to “hook-up.” Facebook is now a classic way of meeting other people. Either meeting new people or reconnecting with “old flames.”
No more sex: His or her sex drive is seriously lower than it was. That can mean they're getting it elsewhere.
Password protecting everything: It's a bad sign if a spouse suddenly starts password protecting everything, when he or she never even cared before. And really start to worry if your spouse refuses to share the passwords.
Cellphone paranoia: When a spouse starts sleeping with the cellphone by the bedside, or bringing it into the shower or bathroom, that's a major tip-off. If a spouse won't let you look at what's on their cell phone, there's a problem.
Insults are flying: Picking fights is an old-time trick of the cheater. That way, if they're ever busted, they can blame it on you and say you two were always fighting!
Older People & Divorce
Guess who's getting divorced in record numbers? Older folks. Studies have revealed what many divorce attorneys have known for a while: The divorce rate among adults aged 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010. A quarter of all divorces in 2010 occurred to persons aged 50 and older. Interestingly, the rate of divorce was 2.5 times higher for those in remarriages versus first marriages.
The good news: the longer you are married, the less likely you are to get divorced.
Can I modify a custody or child support order?
Yes, custody and child support orders can be modified. This happens frequently. Sometimes an existing order no longer makes sense and the facts upon which it is based have changed, sometimes dramatically. For example, if a husband was earning $150,000 per year and his income drops to $30,000 per year, he obviously shouldn't have to keep paying child support at the $150,000 level. In fact, he probably can't.
The modification process starts with the filing of a motion with the court to re-examine the child support calculation. It is very important to understand that these numbers are not automatically adjusted when there is a loss of income. Unless you properly petition the court to lower the amount owed, you will be obligated at the old rate.
Child support works similarly. Let's say a father only sees his child one day a week. But he wants more custody. Custody can only be changed through a petition the court.
Here are some good books about divorce (recommended by our clients!)
We're always speaking to our clients and just as we help them through their time of need, they have a lot of wonderful and helpful insights about divorce. We asked some of our clients what are the best books about divorce they have read. We didn't care it the book was fiction, non-fiction, memoir, biography, autobiography or anything else -- we just wanted to know if they really liked it and if it helped get them through this tough period. Here are some of their favorites:
- The Good Divorce by Constance R. Ahrons
- This is My Daughter by Roxana Barry Robinson
- It's Called a Breakup Because it's Broken by Greg Behrendt
- Making Divorce Easier on Your Child- 50 Effective Ways to Help Children Adjust by Nicholas Long and Rex L. Forehand
- The Women by Clare Boothe Luce
- The Starter Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer
- Falling Apart in One Piece by Stacy Morrison
- How To Talk to Your Children About Divorce by Jill Jones-Soderman and Alison Quattrocchi
- Split: A Memoir of Divorce by Suzanne Finnamore
- How To Sleep Alone in a King Sized Bed by Theo Nestor
- Heartburn by Nora Ephron
- Crazy Time: Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life, Third Edition, by Abigail Trafford
- Second Chances: Men, Women, and Children a Decade After Divorce by Judith S. Wallerstein
Are the dates and deadlines on the papers I was served with really important to follow?
Yes, very important. You should schedule an appointment with an attorney as soon as possible so that tactics and strategy can be planned. The deadlines are taken very seriously and can greatly impact your rights. Be aware that if you don't file an Answer or responsive pleading within 30 days of being served, the court can enter a default judgment against you and give the other everything they want.
Don't forget private school and college expenses when divorcing
Educational expenses can be high. A good education is expensive. You need to figure them into divorce settlement negotiations. They can be a big factor. Studies reveal that college tuition costs are increasing at a higher rate than virtually anything else in the economy. The cost of private school tuition in the Atlanta area does not lag far behind.
These costs can be difficult after a divorce. Private school tuition and college tuition to can hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. You need to plan ahead and discuss this issue in detail with your Atlanta divorce attorney before you get deeply involved with your divorce.
Georgia Divorce Lawyers Conveniently Located in North Fulton County & Forsyth County
Divorce court litigation can be painful and difficult. We do everything we can to make this process easier for our clients. You can count on our experience to help make this difficult process as easy as it can be.
Our goal is to create productive, positive and cost effective family law and divorce solutions for our clients. We realize the importance of knowing when to boldly and immediately and effectively confront an unreasonable adversary, and when escalating a conflict – and the financial and emotional costs that go along with it – is unnecessary to gain our objectives.
Experienced, Committed & Caring
Retaining a divorce lawyer who is experienced enough to work towards a settlement of all the many issues in your divorce case is very important. In fact, in many ways, your future depends on it. And we have that vital experience. We can help you reach a divorce settlement that addresses all the many issues in your divorce including dividing property between separate property and marital property, properly allocating debt from the marriage, alimony, child support, child custody and visitation.
Experienced attorneys Valerie Sherman and Bill Sherman and the team at the Sherman Law Group will help you navigate the entire bankruptcy process from start to finish. As for experience and knowledge, we're we've been called the best. We've served as a Magistrate Judge, an Assistant Attorney General and as a Senior Assistant County Attorney.
As some unrepresented people discover to their disappointment, having deep knowledge of divorce law requires a level of knowledge that takes formal education and years of experience. Presenting the law and facts persuasively is fundamental to a positive. Other resources must often be integrated into the divorce process. Cases involving business interests may require the assistance of a forensic accounting expert. The Sherman Law Group attorneys understands what it takes to prove or disprove a contested issue, and how to accomplish this in an economical, efficient manner.
Call us now!
Please call us now at 678-215-4106 to schedule a consultation to discuss your matter. With offices located in Roswell, GA and Cumming, GA we are conveniently located to serve our clients.