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5 Mistakes to Avoid if You are Involved in a Child Custody Battle

Whether your child custody battle is part of a divorce or a standalone case, there is a lot on the line. Unfortunately, these cases involve a lot of emotions, which can lead people to make mistakes that can hurt their chances of getting the results they want. The following are five of the most common mistakes people make when going through a child custody battle and why you should avoid them.

  1.       Putting the Desire to Hurt Your Ex Before Your Children’s Best Interests

In most child custody battles, the two parents don’t get along very well, to say the least. This can make it very tempting to try to do everything possible to hurt your ex through the courts. While this may give a brief moment of satisfaction, it will hurt your case and your children in the long run. Try to take a step back and think about what is best for your children at all times.

  1.       Ignoring or Violating Court Orders

Even when a custody battle is still active, the courts will usually have issued a temporary order to deal with the current situation. Just because this is a temporary order, however, does not mean that you can ignore it. If you violate even a small part of a court order, you can get in quite a bit of legal trouble. On top of that, it will make the judge more likely to side with your ex when making long term decisions in your case.

  1.       Moving In with a Significant Other

Wanting to move on from your ex is a normal thing, but you need to be careful what you do when going through a custody battle. Having your significant other move in is a very big decision, and one that will directly impact your children. The courts like to see stability in the home when making custody decisions, and inviting someone new into the house (or moving into their home) doesn’t give impression of stability to many judges.

  1.       Making Decisions About the Children Without Informing Your Ex

Even if you have been granted the right to make decisions on behalf of your child (typically called legal custody) in a temporary order, that doesn’t mean you should do so without informing your ex. Doing things like changing schools or even having them miss a day of school without letting your ex know looks bad to a judge. Georgia courts want to see an effort being made for positive co-parenting, and that involves good and open communication.  

  1.       Ignoring an Attorney’s Advice

Hiring an attorney to represent you in a child custody battle is important, but if you don’t listen to their advice, you are really hurting your case. An attorney is legally obligated to work with your best interests in mind, so make sure to listen to and follow their advice. Contact the Law Offices of Adam Stein to discuss your case with us and see how we can help.

How to Financially Prepare for a Divorce

When you’re considering divorce, money may be the last thing on your mind. It’s normal to be preoccupied with your children, your future, and the emotional aspects of divorce, but don’t forget to consider your finances before you move forward. In reality, many couples struggle with their finances in the aftermath of a divorce. Keep these tips in mind to make sure you’re financially prepared.

1) Separate Your Accounts

First things first: you’ll need to have your own separate bank accounts after the divorce is finalized, but you should start now to head off any potential conflicts with your spouse. Open individual checking and savings accounts in your name only. Eventually you will also need to close joint accounts or remove your spouse’s name from shared bank accounts and credit cards.

2) Keep Track of Your Credit

In addition to bank accounts, you’ll want to start establishing credit in your name only. Open a new credit card and use it to build your personal credit history. You should also check your credit report as soon as possible to check for discrepancies, pay outstanding debts, and get a good assessment of your financial situation.

3) Start Cutting Expenses

In a situation like divorce, you need to face the money as well as the music. Understand that you may not enjoy the same standard of living that you had while married; at least not right away. To plan ahead for expenses like child support, attorney’s fees, and court costs, as well as the cost of living on your own, you should take a hard look at your expenses and see where you can save.

4) Take Inventory

Another important step involves gathering your financial records and taking inventory of your assets. If possible, collect about five year’s worth of documents—like payroll stubs, bank statements, tax returns, insurance records, benefits information, and investment accounts—and make copies that you will keep outside of the marital home. You should also inventory your assets, including any separate property you owned before marriage or inheritances given only to you, and perhaps even take date-stamped photos of valuable items like jewelry and antiques, just in case.

5) Start Retraining

If you spent a good part of your marriage as a stay-at-home spouse or caretaker for your children, you should start preparing to find a job and establish your financial independence. Take a look at your skills and experience and see if you might benefit from more education or training courses that can help to bolster your resume. As soon as you’re ready, start applying for jobs.

6) Update Your Estate Plan

To prepare for any eventuality, update your estate plan as soon as possible. You may need to disinherit your spouse from your will or trust, or remove their name from any medical directive or power of attorney you may have created. You can also change the beneficiaries on your life insurance policies, pension, 401K, and IRA.

When you’re considering divorce, it’s best to have help from a qualified attorney who understands what you’re going through. Call the Law Offices of Adam Stein to receive personalized guidance for all of your financial and legal concerns.

5 Factors Georgia Courts Consider When Determining Child Support

When in court for a child custody hearing, one of the main things that is determined is which party will pay child support, and how much they will have to pay. There are a number of different factors in Georgia that will come into play when determining the amount of child support that will be awarded to the custodial parent. Read on to learn about some of the most common things that the courts look at in these cases.

Gross Income of Both Parties

Rather than just looking at the gross income of the non-custodial party, courts look at the income of both parties. If the non-custodial parent earns 50% of what the custodial parent does, the amount of child support awarded will typically be 50% of what it would be had the non-custodial parent earned no money. The incomes and this type of calculation are the primary factors that the courts will look at when determining child support, but they certainly aren’t the only factors.

Child Care Expenses

If both parties are working, the courts will increase the amount of child support awarded to help cover the childcare expenses for things such as daycare. If daycare costs $500 per month, the judge will likely require the non-custodial parent to pay a percentage of that based on the income comparisons used on the gross incomes above.

Insurance Premiums

Any insurance premiums paid for the child(ren) will also be factored in. Only the premiums that apply to the child are considered t in these cases. For example, if a non-custodial parent pays $6000 per year for medical, dental, and vision insurance that covers three people, including the one child being considered for child support, then the total amount considered will be $2000. A percentage of that amount will usually be removed from the total amount of child support, again, based on the difference in income of each party.

Medical, Dental & Vision Expenses

Any co-pays, costs of medications, and other expenses related to the medical, dental, and vision care of the children in question will also impact child support. The courts will typically expect the parties to split these costs up using the same income based percentages. In some situations, this will have a direct impact on child support amounts, in other cases the parties will need to work out splitting the payments among themselves.

Extraordinary Educational Expenses

If there are any type of extraordinary education expenses, the costs will need to be divided up in a fair manner, based on income. This is not very common, but comes into play in situations where the children were attending a private school prior to the divorce, and will continue attending thereafter.

Other Factors/Categories of Deviation

The above list is by no means an exhaustive list of factors that Georgia courts will consider. For example, previous court orders, other children in the household, and extracurricular expenses are also considered when a court calculates child support, among other things. There are many ways that a court may come to a decision. As each child support case varies, each court and judge does also.

Fighting for Your Rights

Whether you’re looking to reduce the amount you have to pay, or maximize the amount you receive, child support cases should be left to an experienced, quality legal professional. Contact the Law Offices of Adam Stein to go over your case so we can begin crafting the best possible arguments to get you the results you need.

Collaborative Law and Divorce: Understanding the Potential Benefits

In the past, couples who were seeking a divorce had to obtain one through the court system. The lengthy process, considerable expense, and adversarial nature of court proceedings have caused some families to start looking for a different and more positive way to settle the issues surrounding their divorce. One alternative is through collaborative law, and it has many benefits over litigation when utilized in divorces.  

In a collaborative divorce, each side works with their own attorney. Unlike in a traditional court proceeding, the goal of the attorneys is to help the parties identify and reach a solution. Both sides have regular meetings in which they all collaborate towards developing an equitable solution. In addition to the assistance of an attorney, collaborative divorce also allows other professionals to offer their valuable input on the issues involved in the divorce.

To see if your family would benefit from a more positive and collaborative approach, we have compiled 4 key benefits to keep in mind:

  1. Benefit of third-party professionals


Couples who choose collaborative divorce have the unique opportunity to have other professionals contribute their expertise to the issues that are being contested in the divorce. For instance, an accountant might offer guidance on financial matters, while a child care specialist could provide insight into the best way to minimize the divorce’s impact on your children.  

  1.  Preserving family relationships


One of the key benefits of a collaborative divorce is that it preserves family relationships. Traditional litigation is adversarial and contentious. Collaborative divorce, on the other hand, allows couples to work together with the help of their attorneys and other professionals to create a solution that focuses on what is best for the family, rather than who is “right” and who is “wrong.”

For couples with children, collaborative divorce is especially beneficial. Some litigated divorces can turn ugly and it is often upsetting and confusing for children to see their parents as adversaries. By working together, parents can effectively send the message that while the marriage may be over, their individual relationship with their children remains intact.

  1.  Control over customizable solutions

Another key benefit to collaborative divorce is that it allows the parties to have much more control over the outcome, and come up with custom solutions that work for their family’s particular circumstances. Having an open atmosphere that allows for the discussion of opinions, needs, and wants makes the parties active participants and much more likely to be content with the solution reached.

  1.  Faster and less expensive than litigation

Collaborative divorce also saves individuals time and money. Litigation is often lengthy and expensive; collaborative divorce helps to cut costs because you’re agreeing on solutions, submitting information voluntarily, and minimizing associated court costs and attorney fees.

Collaborative Divorce Services for Gwinnett County, Georgia

The Law Offices of Adam Stein are proud to offer both litigation and collaborative divorce services to residents of Gwinnett County, Georgia. To find out more about our services and whether a collaborative divorce is right for your family, please visit us online at www. www.family-lawyer.biz or contact our office at (770) 822-1985 for your free initial consultation.

The Benefits of Mediation versus Litigation in Georgia

For those who can benefit from it, mediation is a great way to resolve legal disputes without the cost, time commitment, and adversarial nature of litigation. Parties who wish to preserve their relationship, such as in divorce and other family law cases, can use mediation to work out mutually agreeable solutions to their problems. Mediation is not always an option however; sometimes the parties are unable to work together or unwilling to compromise, such as in cases of contested divorce or involving children. In those cases, litigation becomes necessary. Below we explore the benefits of mediation versus litigation in Georgia and identify when each is most appropriate.

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution where the parties meet and, with the help of a neutral third-party mediator, collectively reach a compromise to solve their legal issue. Litigation, on the other hand, involves the court system and is adversarial in nature: a judge decides the “winner” and the parties do not have as much control over the outcome.

Generally, litigation is a lengthy process, and can be extremely expensive. For those cases that are appropriate, mediation can be an effective, efficient, and cost-effective solution to legal disputes. Although each case it different, in general mediation is much faster and less expensive than traditional litigation. The efficiency of mediation allows clients to save time as well as money on court costs and other associated fees.

Mediation is also a great way for parties to retain some measure of control over the outcome of their legal dispute. In litigation, each side is allowed to present their argument but the judge ultimately has the power to decide who is the “winner.” Mediation, on the other hand, allows each party to present their side to a neutral mediator who will work with the parties towards a mutually agreeable solution.

Another great benefit of mediation is that it is generally less stressful and less contentious than litigation. Because mediation is generally non-adversarial, it can be an excellent choice for those cases where the parties wish to preserve their relationship, such as cases involving families and couples.  

Unlike litigation where the court documents are public record, mediation is confidential. The privacy of mediation is great for cases involving children, or generally any case where the parties wish to keep their dispute between themselves.

However, mediation may not always be appropriate or may be unsuccessful; in those cases, litigation becomes necessary.

Litigation is best for parties that are unable or unlikely to reach a mutually agreeable solution, or for some cases where litigation is most appropriate. In cases where emotions are running high or the parties are especially contentious, such as with a contested divorce, the parties are unable to reach a resolution because they simply cannot work together or are unwilling to compromise. For those cases, litigation becomes necessary. By presenting their case to a third-party decision-maker, the parties receive a legal solution to their issue instead of being forced to work together to reach an agreement. An experienced family law attorney can help guide you through the litigation or mediation process and ensure that your interests are best represented and protected.

The Law Offices of Adam Stein are experienced in mediation and litigation

The Law Offices of Adam Stein are proud to provide alternative dispute resolution and litigation representation to residents of Gwinnett County, Georgia. To learn more about how our office can help mediate your legal dispute, and to receive your free consultation, please visit our website at www.family-lawyer.biz or contact our office at (770) 822-1985.

Find out your elegability for Alimony and Child Support in Lawrenceville and Norcross

Alimony in Georgia

Georgia is a state which allows one party in a divorce proceeding to receive alimony under the appropriate circumstances. The alimony can start during the separation, if both parties agree to it or if a judge orders it, and that temporary order can be changed as the divorce goes on and is finalized.

Whether one must pay alimony and the sum that is required is determined by several factors, but these must be presented properly. You may be the one entitled to receive the spousal support, but the court is not supposed to order support unless the party deemed responsible is able to pay.

An attorney can help you understand the process. If you are getting a divorce in the Lawrenceville or Norcross area, you should consult with a divorce attorney as soon as possible so that you know what will be required of you and what you are entitled to.

Who is eligible to receive child support?

When deciding whether to award child support at all, the Court will first look at the overall state of affairs of both parties. They will assess both assets and liabilities, including real estate, cash and debts. At this time, the Court will also consider the lifestyle the parties were accustomed to during the marriage.

The Court will consider what the parties contributed to the marriage. One party may have contributed more money by earning or inheriting, but the other party may have supported the marriage for many years by taking care of the home and children.

Finally, the Court will consider the current abilities of the parties to earn money or whether there is a need for education or just time to find a job.

How does the court determine the amount of alimony?

The Court considers several factors when determining how much alimony to order, and those factors will determine who pays, how much the person pays and for how long the payments will go on.

Usually, the person who makes the most money will be the one who is ordered to pay alimony. This can be either the husband or the wife, and is based on the fact that the parties depended on each other while they were married.

How long will the court require the alimony to be paid?

When the Court considers how long the parties have been married, it makes a difference if the parties have only been recently married or if they spent years or even decades together. Someone who has only recently married may not be entitled to spousal support at all, or it may be a short-term order to allow time for classes or job hunting.

On the other hand, someone married for longer may be entitled to long-term or even permanent alimony. Although this is rare, sometimes the Court may order permanent alimony for a spouse who cannot work because of health or age.

A divorce lawyer can help you consider these factors as they relate to you.


Divorce Laws in Lawrenceville and Norcross

Anyone getting a divorce in Georgia needs to comply with some basic rules. It is important to consult a divorce attorney as soon as possible when you realize you are a party or potential party to a divorce.

Even if you feel that your divorce is friendly, emotions still tend to run high. Divorce is stressful and has a large impact on your life, and the advice of a good divorce lawyer will make the process less stressful and help preserve your peace of mind.

You could be treated unfairly if you don’t have an advocate who will help you. A local divorce lawyer can help people in and around Lawrenceville and Norcross.

Residency Requirements

The first requirement is that one of the parties must be a resident of Georgia for six months before the filing. It doesn’t matter which party is the resident, the one filing or the respondent.

After the original petition is filed, either party is free to move anywhere.

The Divorce Petition

Georgia law allows for both fault and no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce states that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

Other grounds for divorce include adultery, desertion of at least a year, impotency, fraud in obtaining the marriage and drug addiction. If a party chooses to file based on one of these reasons, there must be proof provided to the court and the other party will be allowed to defend him or herself against the allegations.

Most people choose the no-fault divorce, because it is easier and faster. Your divorce lawyer can help you prepare the petition or respond to it. Responding to the petition can help preserve your rights.

Time Periods

A party who has been served a petition to dissolve the marriage will need to respond within thirty days, if he or she wants to argue against the petition. The court will not grant the divorce for at least 30 days.

Dividing up the Assets

Georgia is an “equitable distribution state,” so any property accumulated during the marriage, including retirement benefits, is subject to being split up between the parties. However, property that one party already had can be retained by the person who brought it into the marriage.

The Court can also consider other factors when dividing up the marital estate, such as how much each party can earn. Debts will also be divided up as fairly as possible.

Final Hearing and Decree

When the divorce is granted, the judge may order both parties to attend a hearing, particularly if there are issues in dispute.

The Final Decree will be the official written end to the marriage. In it, the judge will grant the divorce and make rulings on other important matters.

The final document may restore the wife’s maiden name and address custody of the children. Finally, the judge will order the end of the marriage.


Difference Between A Separation and A Divorce

What is the difference between a separation and a divorce?

In Georgia, you can have what is called a legal separation, which just means you are not having marital relations. Being legally separated in Georgia does not mean that the marriage is over.

There is no legal requirement that the parties in a divorce must separate for a period of time to qualify for a divorce, or that parties who have opted for a legal separation file for a divorce. There is also no requirement in a legal separation that the parties live in separate places, although making up and engaging in marital relations will adversely affect the separate status. These can be completely unrelated issues.

It is important to consult with a divorce lawyer in the Lawrenceville and Norcross areas if you are going through a separation, so you can understand your rights and how the separation will affect you.

What happens in a separation?

Georgia does not allow a divorce until a couple has been legally separated for 30 days, but the separation can simply be the filing. The separation can look the same as the marriage to people on the outside. Just like with a divorce, there is a residency requirement. One party to the divorce must be a resident of Georgia for six months before filing for an official separation.

A divorce can be a lot like a divorce, in many significant ways. For instance, parties can agree or ask that a judge order child support while they are separated. Georgia is also a state which allows for alimony, or spousal support, and this can also be ordered during a legal separation.

What is a separation agreement, and is it binding?

When parties file a separation agreement, they don’t need to go to Court, but the agreement is just as binding as a regular divorce agreement. They don’t need to bring in a divorce attorney, but if they choose to represent themselves, they are held to the same standard as if they had.

The separation agreement includes the kinds of things a divorce decree does. This is where the child support order and alimony order will be. Because there are so many factors to consider when determining child support and alimony, the parties should at least seek the advice of a divorce attorney if they are going to file the petition themselves. Because the Separation Agreement is legally binding, the long-term effects can be serious.

What happens if there is no divorce filed?

Georgia law allows coupes to separate without divorcing. Many couples stay legally bound in marriage because of various reasons, some personal and some practical.

Some people don’t divorce because their religion forbids it. Some couples stay married for longer because one of them has insurance through an employer and the other does not, so they stay married so that everyone in the family can maintain health insurance coverage.


Divorcing in Georgia: What Couples Need to Know About Ending Their Marriage in The Peach State

Divorce laws vary and, when considering divorce, it’s important to know the unique legal requirements of your state. Georgia has its own set of rules concerning divorce and, by exploring the overview of Georgia divorce laws below, you’ll be best equipped to end your marriage in The Peach State.

Residency requirement

Like all states, Georgia has its own residency requirements that must be met in order for a couple to be granted a divorce. While local jurisdictions may also have their own requirements, the state requirements to file for a divorce in Georgia are:

  • Either you or your spouse have been a resident of Georgia for six months immediately prior to filing; or
  • If you are a non-resident, you can file for divorce in the county that your spouse lives in, provided that he or she has been a resident for six months

You should always consult with an attorney regarding your eligibility to file for divorce in Georgia prior to taking any action.

Grounds for divorce

In Georgia, there are two types of grounds for divorce: fault and no-fault. In a no-fault divorce, the parties do not have to prove fault in order for their divorce to be granted: the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” There are 12 fault-based grounds of divorce recognized by the court:

  • Adultery
  • Incest
  • Mental incapacity at the time of marriage
  • Impotency
  • Force, menace, duress or fraud at the time of marriage
  • The wife was pregnant by someone other than her spouse at the time of the marriage, without the knowledge of the husband
  • Willful desertion
  • Two or more years of imprisonment for a crime involving moral turpitude
  • Habitual intoxication
  • Habitual drug addiction
  • Cruel treatment that causes reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm
  • Incurable mental illness

Division of property

Many couples are concerned with how their property will be divided after a divorce. Georgia is known as an equitable distribution state. Although there are exceptions to every rule, in an equitable distribution state, generally any property acquired during the marriage will be divided between the spouses, while property obtained either before the marriage or through third-party gifts or inheritance remain the property of the individual and will not be divided. Keep in mind that property obtained prior to a marriage could become the shared property of the spouses if circumstances change during the marriage—such as adding your spouse to the title of a vacation property you owned before getting married.The division of property must be “fair,” but does not have to be precisely equal. When considering what is fair, the court will consider a number of factors, such as each spouse’s income, assets, and debts.


Alimony is money awarded to one spouse from the other. It can be awarded either temporarily or permanently. The amount of alimony awarded will vary from case to case: each spouse’s financial needs, assets, income, earning capacity, and other relevant factors will be considered by the court in order to determine what amount of money is appropriate.

Child custody

If the divorcing couple has children and can’t come to an agreement on physical custody, legal custody, and visitation, a judge will decide for them. To make the decision, the judge will focus on what arrangement is in the best interest of the child. The judge can consider any relevant factor in determining the best interest of the child. Common examples of factors a judge could consider include each parent’s relationship with the child and the financial capacity of each parent to provide for the child, as well as any detrimental factors such as a history of drug/alcohol abuse or criminal record.

Child support

In order to calculate the amount of child support a parent may potentially owe, the courts consider the total gross income of each parent, as well as a number of other additional factors that influence a parent’s ability to support their child. The amount of the award is calculated using a worksheet developed by the Georgia legislature. The legislature has provided a schedule of basic child support obligations, based on the combined adjusted gross income of both parents: the amounts listed are subject to adjustment based on the particular factors that are relevant in your case.

Experienced divorce lawyer for Georgia residents

The Law Offices of Adam Stein provide excellence in legal representation for family law clients in Gwinnett County, Georgia. To learn more about our divorce and family law services, and to receive your free initial consultation, please visit our website at www.family-lawyer.biz or contact our office at (770) 822-1985.

What Georgia Parents Need to Know About Parenting Coordination

Many Georgia families struggle with the stress and conflict involved in a separation or divorce. Oftentimes, the children are most adversely affected by this major life change. According to the State Bar Association of Georgia, approximately 20-30% of divorcing or separating parents have high conflict behaviors, which result in poor adjustment of their children. These behaviors can have negative long-lasting impact on the children as well as the health and wellbeing of the entire family.

In an effort to lessen the negative impact on children of divorcing or separating parents, Georgia has established a third-party representative, known as a “parenting coordinator.” A parenting coordinator works closely with the family under the authority given to them by the courts. Their aim is to focus on the best interests of the child, while resolving conflict and minimizing the high stress that children can experience when their parents separate or divorce.

The role of a parenting coordinator

A parenting coordinator is usually a family lawyer or a mental health professional trained to provide coordination services during high conflict divorces or separations. The services of a parenting coordinator can either be ordered by the court or voluntary. A parenting coordinator can be utilized during different stages of a divorce or separation and can be a useful tool when mediation is inappropriate or ineffective due to parental strife. Parenting coordinators can be empowered by the courts to make temporary decisions regarding custody and visitation, as long as those decisions are consistent with the family court’s order.

Parent coordination goals

According to the Georgia State Bar Association, the goals of parenting coordination during a divorce or separation are:

  • Protecting the child from conflict
  • Allowing the child to maintain love and respect for both parents
  • Minimizing the child’s stress
  • Improving the effectiveness of the co-parent relationship
  • Maximizing parental cooperation and respect
  • Developing effective communication skills
  • Monitoring attempts at alienation
  • Mediating or clarifying an existing parenting plan
  • Reducing the risk of future litigation
  • Supervising parental behaviors and compliance with court orders
  • Reporting non-compliance to appropriate officials
  • Referring those involved for necessary services
  • Providing testimony for the children, if necessary

Certified parenting coordinator services for Gwinnett County, Georgia

Adam Stein, Esq. is a family lawyer and certified parenting coordinator. The Law Offices of Adam Stein, located in Lawrenceville, Georgia, proudly provides family law services to residents of Gwinnett County. For a free initial consultation, please visit our website at www.family-lawyer.biz or contact us by telephone at (770) 822-1985.