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Atlanta Metro Family Law Blog

Can you take money out of a joint account during a divorce?

Money can be tight during a divorce. Maybe you or your soon-to-be ex moved out of the marital home, and you are struggling to pay all the bills on your own. Or perhaps you are concerned about setting aside money for an attorney. You could also be worried that your former spouse will try to empty out your joint bank accounts.

Georgia is an equitable property division state. Your assets may not be divided down the middle, but divided by what the court deems equal. During equitable division, factors like income, each spouse's contribution and potential earning capacity are considered.

How parents may benefit from sharing custody

When Georgia parents divorce, they might share physical custody of their children. This might be by mutual agreement, or it might be a judge's decision following a custody hearing. Either way, parents might find themselves struggling with this new arrangement. However, there may be some advantages to joint custody.

Parents may find that it is easier to maintain discipline when they have backup from one another. If they agree on this area of parenting, they can support one another in consistent rules and enforce consequences. Joint custody also means it is more likely that parents will share the kind of incidental expenses that come up on a regular basis but may not be included in the child support agreement.

Why a custody agreement could be changed

Divorced parents in Georgia may need to ask for a child custody modification at some point. Generally speaking, the modification is only granted if it is in the best interest of the child to do so. A court will consider the request if the current arrangement puts the child in danger of being abused or neglected. Requests may be more likely to be granted if the danger is immediate.

If a parent chooses to not abide by a current custody agreement, it may be changed. However, a judge will look at why the pact hasn't been followed and whether the parents are still communicating with each other. When a parent dies, it will need to be determined if the non-custodial parent should be allowed to assume custody. If that parent is unable to care for the child, another person may be named to be a child's guardian.

What happens during a child custody court hearing

Georgia parents who are preparing to participate in a child custody hearing might be curious as to what to expect during the hearing. Their concerns might include how to dress, how to prepare and what will actually happen the day of the court appearance.

The first thing they should know is that child custody court hearings tend to be done in a limited time as judges often hear multiple cases each day. During the hearing, several people might offer testimony, including both parents, their witnesses and the children if they are old enough to participate in the hearing. Parents can expect a judge's decision on the matter quickly. Usually, judges will hear both sides and then determine who the custodial parent will be. Judges will work toward creating child custody and visitation arrangements to issue a visitation schedule after hearing testimony. These types of court hearings are also usually set in smaller, intimate settings.

How divorced parents can help their children succeed in school

The start of a new school year can be stressful for parents and children alike. It can be even more stressful after a divorce. Therefore, it may be a good idea to spend the last few days of summer vacation to create goals for students both inside and outside the classroom. While grades are important, Georgia parents should also help their children focus on developing as people.

Examples of goals to set include gaining work experience or learning how to develop relationships. Parents should work with their kids to identify challenges in achieving those goals and how they can help overcome them. Both parents should work together to determine how to pay for expenses related to a child's education. Those expenses could include paying to attend a dance or paying for a babysitter when a child is sick and out of school.

Divorce and addressing financial issues

Divorcing couples in Georgia may experience some anxiety regarding their finances. They should begin by examining their expenses, liabilities, income and assets.

Savings accounts, bonds, money-market accounts, mutual funds, stocks, savings bonds, real estate investment trusts, certificates of deposit, savings accounts, cash and checking accounts are all categorized as financial assets. These financial assets may be particularly beneficial to spouses who have a very low income or who do not work as the assets can be used for living expenses.

How shared assets are split during a divorce

Getting a divorce in Georgia is more complicated than most people realize. After spending years with a spouse, a divorcee might not be sure what their financial future has in store for them. That is why it is so important to figure out one's finances as soon as separating becomes a real possibility. Splitting assets is much easier when both parties know all of their rights and responsibilities.

A couple's financial situation can generally be broken down into four different categories. The first category is their shared assets. That includes bank accounts, bonds, investments and physical property. Before splitting retirement accounts, divorcees may first consult with an attorney so that they fully understand their tax obligations. All debts and liabilities fall into the second category, and the party that keeps the property is almost always responsible for any debt related to that property.

Which issues are covered in divorce mediation?

It’s difficult for most people to work through divorce with their ex-spouse. Whether the separation has you feeling resentful, heart-broken, relieved or all of the above, it’s easy for these emotions to permeate negotiations — oftentimes making agreements more difficult to reach.

Choosing to work through your divorce by using the mediation method can be a faster, more inexpensive way to finalize your settlement.

Property division and divorce among older adults

Over the past several years, divorce has been on the rise for people over 50. Some older couples in Georgia who get a divorce may have complicated finances that make the process of property division complex. For example, more and more people are investing in annuities, but these can present problems when it is necessary to divide them in a divorce. They all have different types of rules and can lose value when split, so some couples opt instead for one person to keep the annuity and the other person to take a different asset.

Certain rules must also be followed when dividing retirement accounts. Most pension plans include specific instructions for what must be done if they are divided. Furthermore, both pension plans and 401(k)s require a document called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. For an IRA, a QDRO is not needed, but both 401(k)s and IRAs can be rolled into another IRA in order to avoid taxes or penalties.

Rights of unmarried fathers

Georgia children are much more likely to be born to fathers who are not married to their mothers than in previous decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while just over 18 percent of children were born to unmarried parents in 2007, that figure has more than doubled to 40 percent around the country.

It is presumed that a mother's husband is the father of her child. If a mother and father are unwed at the time of the child's birth, the father can be present at the birth and add his name to the birth certificate. Otherwise, he can fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. In some cases, a mother may contest a father's paternity claim. If this happens, the father may want to petition the court and take a paternity test to prove his fatherhood.

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