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Atlanta Metro Family Law Blog

Is this summer your season for divorce?

Not everyone is a fan of summer. When the school year ends, you may be one of those who long for the Georgia winter or at least for a cooler season. However, the rising temperature may not be the only reason for your unhappiness.

If you and your spouse are struggling in your marriage, you may be dreading this summer, especially if it means spending more time together, such as on vacation. It is not uncommon for couples in trouble to make life-changing decisions after a long, hot summer.

Supervised visitation preserves relationships

If there are concerns over a Georgia parent's ability to safely interact with a child, a court may mandate supervised visitation. It may take place at the parent's house, a public place or any other location where the safety of the child can be guaranteed. In most cases, a social worker or another person in a similar role will ensure that the interaction is safe and productive for both the parent and the child.

Supervised visitation orders can either be permanent or temporary depending on the circumstances of a given case. Temporary orders may be lifted after the parent goes to rehab or an investigation finds no credible evidence of abuse. Those who are subject to a supervised custody order should look to find ways to show the court that they are fit to parent their children in a less structured manner.

What a court considers in deciding child custody

When Georgia parents get a divorce, if they cannot reach a decision about child custody and visitation, they might have to go to court. A judge will take a number of factors into consideration when deciding what is in the best interests of the child.

For example, a judge may consider whether one parent has already been doing the majority of the care-giving. This may be the case in particular if the children are very young since some courts may be more concerned about maintaining consistency for younger children. Another consideration is each parent's preferences. The preferences of older children might be considered as well. Judges will also take notice of a parent's willingness to support the child's relationship with the other parent. Family law courts generally take the position that unless the child is in danger with one parent, it is best for the child to spend time with both parents.

Distribution of student loan debt in divorce

High levels of student loan debt are causing financial difficulties for college graduates in Georgia and throughout the country, and going through a divorce makes this kind of debt even more challenging. Any debt acquired before marriage remains the sole responsibility of the original borrower, but debt taken out during the marriage may be divided between the spouses depending on certain circumstances. Since Georgia is not a community property state, courts will use an equitable distribution model to figure out who pays what.

A major factor in equitable distribution is how the student loan money was used. If it only went toward paying for tuition and other school-related costs, it's likely that a court will find most or all of the debt the original borrower's responsibility. When the money is also used for shared costs like housing and living expenses, the other spouse may be asked to pay back part of the loan.

Common myths regarding non-custodial parents

Lots of divorces in Georgia involve child custody issues. In many cases, one non-custodial parent will not have physical custody of the kids. However, this mother or father may still persuade a judge to grant them legal custody. Many non-custodial parents also have frequent visitation rights and spend ample time with their children.

Unfortunately, there are several invalid theories that exist regarding non-custodial parents. For example, many believe that they are deadbeats who do not want to support their children. The truth is that most non-custodial parents do meet their child support obligation.

Divorce advice from friends, family not always reliable

If you are considering ending your marriage, you may feel very alone. After all, you are contemplating ending a relationship that may have lasted for years, and you do not know whether you will make the right choice. These feelings are normal, and it is certainly worthwhile to give your decision its due consideration before jumping into anything.

In efforts to feel less alone, you may want to discuss your situation with those close to you. Of course, this may result in those parties, some of whom may have gone through divorce themselves, trying to offer you advice on how to handle your situation. While they likely have good intentions, you certainly want to remember that their advice may not actually suit your needs.

Making co-parenting work during the summer months

Georgia parents no longer living together often face some unique problems as they attempt to successfully juggle parenting responsibilities. One potentially troublesome time is during the summer months when kids are out of school and their schedules are more flexible. But summer co-parenting doesn't have to be a challenge if parents take the right steps to make such arrangements work.

When creating child custody and visitation arrangements appropriate for summer, parents are advised to cooperate and communicate as much as possible. This process typically involves coordinating plans before summer begins and letting the children know what those plans are to minimize stress for everyone. One way to avoid confusion with schedules is to have a physical calendar in each household. As children get older, it may also be necessary for parents to reevaluate summer co-parenting plans as kids begin to explore different activities and interests.

Parenting teens after divorce

When parents in Georgia divorce, a top priority is working out issues surrounding custody and support for their children. When one or all of the children are teenagers, some issues can become more complex. It's important for parents to be aware of a teenager's unique developmental issues while working out visitation plans and other ways to adjust to the divorce.

The teen years are often tumultuous. Hormonal changes affect both the bodies and minds of adolescents. Teenagers are often moody and face intense social pressure at school -- all this while preparing to become independent adults. While a teenager may have a better understanding of the reasons for divorce than a younger child, this does not mean that teens may not have strong feelings regarding the disruption that the end of a marriage brings.

Study finds student loan debt can strain marriages

People in Georgia who carry large amounts of debt, including student loan debt, may be more vulnerable to divorce than those who are debt-free. Three times more people have more than $50,000 in student loan debt than they did a decade ago. The average student loan balance of $34,000 is 62% higher than it was 10 years ago.

Money problems are a common contributor to conflict and divorce. Student Loan Hero conducted a survey and found that 33% of debtors said money arguments contributed to their divorce, and around 12% specifically said student loan debt was the issue. The size of many people's student loan debt means they may be unable to purchase a home or pay for other major expenditures.

Pre-divorce prep

If you and your spouse decide your marriage is not working anymore, you may already be anxious about the divorce process. But what about the process before the actual divorce even starts? Is pre-divorce preparation something you need to worry about?

In short, yes. However, you may not have to stress over it as much as you think. Here’s what steps you might want to take before the divorce even starts.

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