Cobb County Divorce Attorney Discusses 7 Debunked Divorce Myths

Cobb County Divorce Attorney Discusses 7 Debunked Divorce Myths

Cobb County divorce lawyerI saw an article by Marlisse Cepeda  in Womans Day, that was republished on Yahoo News. She notes that nobody wants to get divorced, but those statistics that get passed around make it seem like it’s an almost inevitable consequence of getting married. But have no fear! The truth is less grim than the fiction here. From that ominous 50% divorce rate to pre-wedding cohabitation’s effect on marriage, here are the seven most popular misconceptions about splitting up. (Read the entire article here for the complete debunking).

Myth #1: One in two marriages ends in divorce.
Truth: The divorce rate has been steadily decreasing since the 1980s, and a more accurate divorce rate for American marriages ranges from 40% to 50%. And remember: this factors in people who marry over and over again which drives up the rate.

Myth #2: Living together before marriage lowers the chance of divorce.
Truth:  The circumstances under which you decide to move in together make all the difference. If cohabitation occurs out of necessity (say, your partner lost his job and can’t afford to live on his own), the experience doesn’t benefit the relationship. It can reduce the chance of divorce as long as it’s done thoughtfully.”

Myth #3: Second marriages are more likely to last than first marriages.
Truth: One thing’s for sure: giving marriage another go definitely ups the chances of divorce. Roughly 67% to 80% of second marriages end in divorce, and third marriages crumble at an even higher rate. If you already know how to get divorced, the more likely you see it as an option.

Myth #4: Divorce is incredibly expensive.
Truth: When you constantly see headlines about celebrity couples engaged in “multi-million dollar divorces,” it’s easy to think this. However, as long as the two parties involved amicably agree on who gets what and don’t head to court each time to make a decision, the fees are manageable. “Conflict resolution is less expensive than conflict escalation,” meaning: Litigation can be a long, drawn-out process, which can simultaneously heighten clashes and hike up charges, while mediation typically involves less time to reach a resolution, which translates to lower fees.

Myth #5: All ex-wives get alimony.
Truth: Not all divorces involve alimony (money that one spouse is legally obligated to pay the other, either over time or in one lump sum, agreed upon at the time of the divorce, the purpose being to provide either partner with the lifestyle he or she had throughout the marriage. Alimony can be granted when one spouse, wife or husband, is financially dependent on the other. The shorter the marriage, the less likely it is that one spouse became financially dependent on the other.

Myth #6: The mother almost always gets custody of the children.
Truth: Many people think that mothers should always get custody. Legally, though, that’s not the case. Even if the mom is the child’s primary caregiver throughout the marriage, both parents are “entitled to substantial time with the kids. If both parents are fit to raise the child, they’re typically granted some form of shared custody.

Myth #7: The US’s divorce rate is higher than every other country’s.
Truth: We’re definitely up there on the list. The US has the sixth-highest divorce rate. Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and the Cayman Islands take the top five spots in that order. As for the lowest rates, marriages in Sri Lanka, Brazil and Italy last the longest, possibly due to religion and financial stability motivate women to stay married.

If you are considering or have questions about divorce, contact our Marietta family law firm, Georgia Family Law: Worrall Law LLC. We help families who are going through the divorce process. You may reach us by calling 770.425.6060 or by filling out an online contact form.


Marietta Estate Planning Attorney Describes Savvy Year-End Tax Moves for Retirement Plan Owners

Marietta Estate Planning Attorney Describes Savvy Year-End Tax Moves for Retirement Plan Owners

retirement funds

Marietta Estate Planning Attorney

Even though the elections are over, no one knows what Congress will do by the end of the year when it comes to taxes so retirees are advised to look at strategies to cut their tax bills now rather than wait for Congress to act.  With the fiscal cliff looming, Here are some considerations from Kiplinger’s:

Max out on tax-deferred retirement savings plans.  The limits for contributions to a 401(k) or other employer-based retirement plan for 2012 is $17,000; if you are over the age of 50, you can contribute up to $22,500.  Contributing the maximum is also a smart move if you plan to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA since it lowers your taxable income.  IRA contribution limits in 2012 are $5,000; those over 50 can stash away $6,000.

Make gifts before 2012 ends.  Most experts expect Congress to do nothing when it comes to estate and gift taxes, then catch up and make any changes retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013 when the exemption for both goes to $1 million from $5.12 million and the maximum estate tax rate jumps from 35 to 55 percent.  Review your estate plan with your Personal Family Lawyer® to see if gifting makes sense for you this year.

Postpone RMDs as long as possible.  Experts recommend you wait until mid-December to take your required minimum distributions from your IRAs.  The tax break allowing those over the age of 70 ½ to donate $100,000 tax-free to charities directly from their IRAs expired at the end of 2011, but Congress has extended this break several times and may do so again.  So postponing your RMD as long as possible (but not past mid-December) may pay off.

If you’d like to learn more about retirement planning, call our Marietta estate planning law firm office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.  We normally charge $750 for a Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next five people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call us today at 770-425-6060 and mention this article.


Five Atlanta Estate Planning Questions and Their Answers

Estate planning, with or without a lawyer, can be a little overwhelming.  For an estate planning attorney in Atlanta, there are plenty of questions which come up again and again.  Take a look at the list below, and maybe you’ll get some of yours answered:

1.    Do I really need an estate plan if I don’t own much?  The answer to this is: ABSOLUTELY.  An estate plan isn’t just about setting up trust funds.  There are very important documents that everyone should have, regardless of their income level or assets.

2.    What is the most important document I should have my estate planning lawyer draft?  There are several which are important, but to get started, you will likely need a medical directive that explains what your wishes are in a variety of medical situations when you are unable to make decisions for yourself.  If you’re married, you spouse will likely become the default decision-maker, but by having your wishes outlined, it makes things much clearer and takes some of the burden off of your loved ones.

3.    Any others I really need?  If you’re not married, you should really create durable powers of attorney for your medical decisions and your financial obligations.  Parents should absolutely set up legal guardianship for their minor children.  And just about everyone can benefit from creating a will.

4.    Aren’t “trust funds” just for the ultra-rich?  Actually, they’re not.  While we may be conditioned to think of trusts as some sort of savings account that doles out money to the next generation, they are actually so much more.  Putting your assets into a trust allows you to put specific restrictions and conditions on how the money is used, can protect a piece of property, and can significantly lessen the amount of taxes owed by your estate and its heirs.  The cost of setting up a trust will save you its value many times over.

5.    Will I have to pay a “death tax?”  Maybe.  For 2012, this estate tax only applies to those worth more than $5 million.  In 2013, that amount is expected to drop to $1 million.  The 2012 tax rate for those with estates worth more than the $5 million is capped at 35%, while the projected 2013 tax rate for estates worth more than $1 million can reach as high as 55%.

Of course, there are many other questions which an Atlanta estate planning lawyer is used to answering on a regular basis.  These five, however, are commonly asked and may have been on your mind.  Armed with this information, you may have realized that now truly is the time to meet with an estate planning attorney and get the ball rolling for your future plans.

Georgia Temporary Protective Orders in Family Violence Cases

Georgia Temporary Protective Orders in Family Violence Cases

family violence lawyer in Cobb CountyWhat is a TPO?

A Temporary Protective Order (TPO) is a legal document issued by a court to help victims obtain protection from persons abusing, harassing, or stalking them. A TPO will generally prohibit contact between parties and may remove or restrict someone from a certain place or residence. The following must occur before a judge will consider issuing a TPO:

  • A recent act of family violence.
  • The victim, or someone acting on behalf of the victim, must complete a petition requesting that a TPO be issued.
  • Once the petition is completed, the victim will speak to a Judge.
  • If the Judge finds that the order should be issued, papers will be filed at the clerk’s office. The sheriff’s office will receive a copy of the order so that the defendant can be served with the order.
  • If the defendant violates the provisions set forth in the order, he/she can be held in contempt of court and possibly be arrested for a criminal violation. Any violation of the order should be reported to law enforcement and the courts.

AnchorConditions for Application
Under Georgia Law, an application for a TPO can be made without the assistance of an attorney and there are no fees involved. An application for a TPO can be made if an act of family violence has occurred in one of the following situations.

  • Past or present spouses
  • Parents of the same children
  • Parents and children
  • Stepparents and stepchildren
  • Foster parents and foster children
  • Persons living or formerly living in the same household. NOTE: Dating relationships where there has been no cohabitation or no common children generally will not qualify for a TPO. 

Where do I get a TPO issued?
Generally, a TPO is issued through the Superior Court of the County in which the perpetrator or defendant lives. If the perpetrator is not a Georgia resident, the order may be issued in the Country where the abuse occurred.

How long will the TPO be in effect?
Both the perpetrator and the victim will have to appear before a Judge within 30 days of the original order to determine whether or not the TPO should be extended for up to six months.

What if the TPO is violated?
A criminal violation of a protective order pursuant to Georgia Law (O.C.G.A. 19-13-6(b)) may occur only if the order states that the defendant has been evicted or excluded from the residence of the victim. Violations of other orders, generally referred to as “no contact” orders, will be handled through civil contempt actions. However, violations of TPO provisions can possibly lead to other criminal charges.

If you believe a violation of a TPO has occurred, contact law enforcement and the judge’s office to report the violation. If the responding law enforcement agency determines that a criminal violation has occurred, the defendant may be arrested. If no criminal violation has occurred, the judge may place the case or the calendar for both parties to appear at a contempt hearing.

What protection can this TPO give me?
Pursuant to Georgia Law (O.C.G.A. 19-13-4), a TPO can:

  • Direct a party to refrain from family violence acts.
  • Grant a spouse possession of the residence or household of the parties and exclude the other spouse.
  • Require a party to provide suitable alternate housing for a spouse and his/her children.
  • Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights.
  • Order the eviction of a party from the residence or household and order assistance to the victim in returning to it, or order assistance in retrieving personal property of the victim if the respondent’s eviction has not been ordered.
  • Order either party to make payments for the support of a spouse as required by law.
  • Order either party to make payments for the minor children as required by law.
  • Provide for possession of personal property of the parties.
  • Order a party to refrain from harassing, interfering with, or contacting the other.
  • Award costs and attorney’s fees to either party.
  • Order either or all parties to receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as further measure to prevent the recurrence of family violence.

Is the TPO good out of the county or state?
The Full Faith and Credit Provision on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA U.S. Code Section 2265) requires states and Indian tribes to enforce valid protection orders issued by foreign states. Whatever the implications of violating a TPO are in the new state or Indian land, these apply to enforcement of the order from the old state or Indian land.


  • Always keep a copy of the order with you. Keep copies of the order at other places you frequent such as school, daycare, relative’s home, work. etc. If you believe a TPO is being violated, report this violation to law enforcement immediately.
  • Keep all evidence of violence such as photos, caller ID information, phone records, cards, and letters and document each contact or violation.
    If you are being followed, contacted, or harassed, contact law enforcement immediately.
  • Don’t let the defendant violate the order, which means do not contact him/her once the order is in effect. This type of contact may invalidate the order.


Limitations of a TPO

A TPO is a court document ordering someone to stay away, but is not a bulletproof vest that can prevent danger or some force that will physically keep a person from harming you. Other things that can be done to ensure your safety:

  • Make a safety plan detailing where you and your children will go and what you will do in the event of an emergency.
  • Keep a bag packed and safely stored away with items you will need.

SOURCE: Haven House

Georgia Family Lawyer Highlights Article on Divorce and Children

As a Georgia family lawyer, I have seen my fair share of courtroom battles. The saddest of these place the children of the marriage squarely in the middle. A recent news article explains how parents can avoid doing that. The article emphasizes that parents should remember:

  • They will be connected forever. Parents must stay in touch with one another as co-parents and then as co-grandparents.
  • They must maintain boundaries between adult problems and children. Children should be allowed to remain unburdened by adult problems. Children lack the coping skills and intellectual ability to understand adult concerns. They also must process their own feelings regarding the divorce.
  • They must make transitions smoothly. Children get stressed when they are shuffled from home to home. Transitions should be brief and respectful. Children should not be asked to relay messages back and forth.
  • They must be flexible. Parents must cooperate. Life changes, and parents should be mature enough to make some adaptations when necessary.
  • They should deliver solid parenting. The quality of parenting can suffer during a divorce. A parent might be more focused on issues related to the divorce and on adjusting to a new phase in life. Parents should try to be the best parents they can be.

Our Marietta, Georgia family law firm handles both litigated and collaborative divorces. Contact the Georgia family law attorneys at Georgia Family Law: Worrall Law LLC for more information. You may reach us by calling 770.425.6060 or by filling out an online contact form.