February 14, 2014

Moving Post-Divorce

When a person goes through a divorce, that person is likely looking for a clean split from their spouse – the ability to go and do whatever they want, without having to give the other party so much as a thought. If the parties have children together, however, this is not possible, particularly if both parties want to be very involved in the lives of their children and see them often. Many times divorced parents live in the same city and coordinating visitation and other activities with an ex is not too difficult. For those who live in different cities, or even in different parts of the same city (ex: Cumming vs. College Park), things can be a little more complicated as traveling for visitation must be part of the routine. Therefore, it is important that parents keep each other informed of any intent to move, whether within the same city or to a new city.

Depending on the location of the move, it may necessitate a new visitation schedule. For example, if parents currently live 5 miles from each other but one intends to move to a new city, it will no longer be appropriate for the children to have weeknight visitation. Visitation every other weekend may not work either, especially if air travel and its associated costs and schedules must be taken into consideration.

For this reason, it is prudent to have a clause about a parent’s change of residence in a divorce settlement agreement. The clause should state that any parent changing his or her residence must notify the other parent in writing at least 60 days in advance of the move, if possible, and should also provide the parent with the address and phone number at the new residence. This notice will provide the parties time to file a Petition for Modification of Custody and Visitation, if necessary, so that they can have a plan that will work with the upcoming changes.

February 10, 2014

Dating after divorce - How does it affect the kids?

At some point after a divorce, it is possible, or even likely, that each party will begin to date again. If parties have children together, this can make dating again a little more complicated because you have to think about how they may react. You also need to consider at what point it would be appropriate to introduce a new girlfriend/boyfriend to your children. One person who may have a strong opinion about this topic is your ex because, even though you may be divorced, you must still co-parent your children. For this reason, many people include a paragraph addressing this issue in their divorce settlement agreement.

Often, in drafting language to cover this issue, parents are most concerned about their ex having a girlfriend/boyfriend spend the night while the children are also in the house. A parent with that concern may put language in the settlement agreement prohibiting any person of the opposite sex (unless related by blood or marriage) from spending the night in the same residence as the children. Including people of the same sex, if sexually or romantically involved with that parent, can further extend this prohibition. It should be noted that if you are unable to settle your divorce and must go through a trial, you should ask the Judge to put similar language in your Final Divorce Decree.

May 20, 2013

Name Change After Georgia Divorce

In a Georgia divorce action, “a party may pray in his pleadings for the restoration of a maiden or prior name.” OCGA §19-5-16. Once the divorce is granted, “the judgment or decree shall specify and restore to the party the name so prayed for in the pleadings.” Id. Thus, if a wife wants to change her name back to her maiden name, all she has to do is request the change in her Complaint for Divorce (or Answer and Counterclaim for Divorce), and her name will be changed in the Final Decree of Divorce. She can then take this Court Order to the Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security Office, or passport office to have her name changed on the appropriate documents.

If the party fails to request the name change in the divorce pleadings, and the divorce is granted without name change, the party must then file a separate Petition for Name Change in the Superior Court. OCGA §19-12-1.

If the party in the divorce action desiring the name change has children, this does not affect whether the name change will be granted. However, that party may want to think hard about whether she wants her name to be different than that of her children. It should be noted that a child’s name cannot be changed as part of the divorce action but, rather, a request for change must be made in a different action. Thus, if desired, this must be done at a different time and the other parent must consent. OCGA §19-12-1. This process is, therefore, not as straightforward as that of a name change incident to a divorce.