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The Business of Marriage | Atlanta Law Firm

Posted on: April 3rd, 2015

Plans A B and COur Atlanta law firm sees a variety of problems, including divorce. But as a business, we can certainly see the value of treating marriage like one, too. Planning ahead, setting goals and knowing how to solve potential problems if/when they occur are all business principles that can be applied to marriage in order to strengthen it.

One of the first things people do before starting a business is to write a business plan. It’s a road map for how the business will operate and includes things such as mission statements, culture, human relations, budgets and growth plans. All of these aspects of a business plan can be applied to preparing for a marriage. Here’s how:

  1. Mission statement – what is the purpose for your marriage? Talk about this with your partner and write it down. This might be the time that you find out that you both think about the purpose of marriage very differently and may avert problems on down the road if you understand why you want to marry.
  2. Culture – what do you want your home life to be like? If you know in advance that your spouse will be in front of a giant-screen television every weekend watching some type of sporting event while you envisioned shopping at flea markets and antique stores with them, you may both be in for a big disappointment. Talk about what you want your home life to be like, how you will treat guests, how you will raise children, spend holidays, etc. Make your agreements before these issues come up.
  3. Human Relations – how do you make sure that you are both receiving your benefits package? (You know, the benefits of being married?) What if someone needs to be written up for a reoccurring problem? How will you handle conflicts? How can you reward excellent effort?
  4. Budget – how you will manage the cash flow? Do you want to save a certain amount for a home down payment? Do you want to pay off debt first? Will you carry a balance on your credit cards? Will you consult each other on large expenses before making a purchase? What should each person do to contribute to these goals? Discuss and come up with a strategy to make sure that you have a mutual understanding of your financial goals.
  5. Growth – do you want children? When? How many? What if a natural pregnancy isn’t an option? Adoption? In vitro fertilization? Foster-parents? What are your plans (and back-up plans) for expanding your family past the two of you? The time to make these decisions is now, before you tie the knot.

After you’ve decided to marry your friend, sit down together to work through these issues and, as this article in Forbes explains, write down your goals (plans) to commit to, you can expect an easier time making important life decisions together because you will have already done it before.


5 Steps of Divorce Mediation | Atlanta Divorce Practice

Posted on: March 24th, 2015

Atlanta Divorce Mediation

In our Atlanta divorce practice, we sometimes have clients who are not able, for a variety of reasons, to come to an agreement on one or more terms of their divorce. When this happens, we can arrange for our clients to try to resolve their disputes through divorce mediation. The two biggest reasons we recommend mediation as a tool is to save money and because anything can happen in a courtroom. If a couple can’t resolve their differences and end up asking a judge to decide, they may not like the terms of the divorce that a judge will set for them.

mediation

The mediation process is often misunderstood. People sometimes don’t realize that it can be a good, cost-effective way for a couple to come to a settlement agreement.

The process is fairly simple:

  1. The couple meets at the mediator’s office and each person is seated in a separate room with their own lawyer.
  2. The mediator, a trained listener, will usually have a brief meeting with the attorneys to get an overview of each side.
  3. He/she then meets with and listens to both parties individually to identify the areas of agreement and disagreement.
  4. He/she will impartially go back and forth to act as a negotiator, often keeping the important issues at the forefront and filtering out the emotions. He/she will try to keep things moving forward in a positive direction so that each party can see that progress is being made.
  5. Any areas of agreement that can be worked out are written up and signed off on by both parties. Sometimes, people leave with a partial agreement and go before a judge to hear and decide on only one or two issues.

Speaking with a client about her recent mediation experience, she described it this way:

My ex-husband can be very intimidating and had been bullying me each time we had to see each other. Mediation took the pressure off of me because I didn’t have to sit face-to-face with him and feel afraid. I had an amazing mediator with a great personality who took the time to really listen to what I needed and why. He asked many questions and was able to calmly reason with my ex-husband. The mediator got him to see the facts of the case outside of the anger he was feeling towards me because I wanted to leave the marriage. Our mediator helped us both understand the reality of what a judge could or would say to us if we were to go to court. As a result, we were able to evaluate our risk and came up with a settlement that we could both live with.

Mediation does have pros and cons, as Joyce Kitchens explains in this video. But because a mediator works for both people, unlike a lawyer who only works for their client, both parties know that they have a person who is trying to work with them to help them. For this reason, mediation usually has a very high success rate and is a tool that we endorse when our clients are not able to come to a resolution.

 


Financial Impact of Divorce on Women| Atlanta Divorce Attorneys

Posted on: March 19th, 2015

Credit CardsAs Atlanta divorce attorneys, we get to assist many women in their divorce cases. They come from a variety of backgrounds and have many different types of living and working arrangements. We work to help them come up with fair and equitable settlements so that they can move forward in a positive direction at the end of it all. But sometimes, especially in the area of finances, divorce can have a significant negative impact on the lives of women.

According to a recent NBC News Feature, women can be at a severe financial disadvantage after divorce for a variety of reasons. Among them are lack of education, childcare expenses, relying on an unreliable ex-spouse to meet child support and debt servicing obligations, and stay at home moms spending too much time outside the workforce when they need to return after a divorce. In addition to these problems, divorce sometimes impacts a person’s credit rating.

How can women prevent such negative consequences? First, check out 5 Things to Consider Before Filing for a Divorce. Then, try to get as much education as you can before you file. Update your resume and find employment before you are in a crisis mode. If you can’t work, try to work as a volunteer so that you will have some recent work experience to put on your resume. Pay any outstanding bills to clean up your credit and start to build your support network with friends and family. Then, call us and set up an appointment for a consultation so we can make a plan to minimize risk and maximize your life, post-divorce.


Is Porn Preventing Marriage? | Atlanta Law Firm

Posted on: March 10th, 2015

Atlanta Divorce AttorneysOur Atlanta law firm does a variety of work including divorce, adoptions, contracts, business and protections for same-sex couples. Many people have heard how painful divorce can be and how the emotional upheaval of the changes that ending a marriage can bring. As a result, some decide not to marry in order to avoid the potential emotional and financial problems. That’s why it surprised us to read that a team of researchers determined that the rise of free Internet pornography is causing the decline in the percentage of young adult males who are married, and may even be contributing to the trend.

Michael Malcolm, an associate professor of economics at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, told an interviewer that he believes this study was a convincing argument. “Pornography increases the alternatives for sexual gratification.”

In addition to the porn meeting a sexual need, people are finding that they can stay home and have their social needs met through video games and virtual works can provide a false sense of gratification that sometimes leads to isolation and a lack of support system.

The problem is being studied by psychologists and sociologists. The consensus is that although the internet is supposed to serve us by making our lives more efficient, it is becoming the very thing that is preventing us from entering into a wide variety of social contracts, including marriage.


Our Atlanta Law Firm Team – Meet Will Davis

Posted on: March 4th, 2015

In our Atlanta law firm, we have the most dedicated professionals to serve our clients. WillDavisWe want to introduce you to the newest member of our staff, attorney Will Davis.

Will, where are you from?

I grew up in Acworth, GA.  I have more or less been a resident of Cobb County for my whole life. I now live in Marietta near the historic Marietta Square, and I enjoy spending a lot of my free time on the Square. All of my family lives somewhere in Cobb County and I enjoy being in close proximity to my nieces, sister, and parents.

Do you have any hobbies or interests?

I enjoy all kinds of entertainment, including television, movies, and theatre. I’m a bit of a trivia fanatic, and I record and watch Jeopardy every night. I love the beach and try to make it there several times a year. I am a huge college football fan, cheering on the Bulldogs and Rebels (hopefully from Athens or Oxford) every weekend in the fall.

What type of work have you done in the past what are your legal specialties?

I began my work as an attorney with the Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP) in Albany where I practiced in  different civil law areas including family law, wills, housing law, administrative law, and public benefits law. Specifically at GLSP, I provided legal assistance to Spanish-speaking residents of Southwest Georgia. Following my time at GLSP, I worked for a small firm in Marietta where I focused on representing clients in family law and criminal defense matters. At Kitchens New Cleghorn (KNC), I focus on all aspects of family law, wills, and general civil/corporate litigation.

Tell us about your education.

I received my B.A. in Spanish from the University of Georgia in 2006, and I received my Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 2009.

What are you looking most forward to in working at KNC?

I am looking forward to working primarily in the family law arena and learning about new aspects of the law as it relates to LGBT clients. KNC is a respected firm in all areas of practice, and I’m excited to work with and learn from Randy, Jeff, and Joyce.


One Million Per Month for Child Support ?

Posted on: February 27th, 2015

When it comes to divorce settlements, a good family lawyer knows that child support can be a huge factor in the Child Supportdivorce agreement. Recently, the estranged wife of billionaire Ken Griffin asked a court to grant one million dollars per month for child support for their 3 children, ages 2, 4 and 7.

Dias Griffin is basing her request on an Illinois law what says children of divorce “are entitled to continue the lifestyle they enjoyed during the marriage.” According to her budget, the money is necessary. She plans to spend $14,000 on food for the 3 children, $160,000 on monthly vacations, and don’t forget the thank you notes that will be sent on $2,000 per month in stationery.

Mrs. Griffin has also asked the judge in the case to nullify her pre-nuptial agreement that Mr. Griffin had her sign the day before their 2003 wedding. She reported to the court that it was signed under duress and only gives her 1% of his estimated net worth. That 1% happens to be $50 million dollars.

In our family law practice, we try to help our clients get the necessary support to continue to keep their children in the same standard of living they were used to during the divorce. Although there is no standard amount for child support, our partner, Jeff Cleghorn, gives a brief overview about how child support is calculated in the state of Georgia. If you want to discuss your child support needs, please give us a call today!


Causes of Divorce: Finances | Atlanta Divorce Lawyers

Posted on: February 13th, 2015

Money on a hook   As Atlanta divorce lawyers, we handle divorces each year that are caused, in one way or another, by financial problems. According to a recent article in Daily Finance, “financial infidelity” is on the rise and can have an enormous impact on the health of marriages.

In a recent survey of Americans, it was reported that 1 in 3 people have lied to their partner about money. In addition, 76% of those surveyed said that financial deceptions had an impact on their relationship. Knowing that deception has such an impact on relationships, it is surprising that 1 in 3 will still lie to their partner about a financial issue.

Author, wealth strategist and relationship coach, Paul Mourigat, says that the “two most common forms of financial infidelity are squirreling away substantial sums of money to be spent on a guilty pleasure and hiding payroll records from a spouse in order to control information and perceptions.”

When one spouse is hiding money, it breaches trust between the couple. In addition, it also makes it very difficult to get an accurate picture of marital assets that will lead to a fair and equitable division of marital property in a divorce.

Of course, “fair and equitable” doesn’t necessarily mean a 50/50 split. According to attorney Jeff Cleghorn, consideration is given to a variety of factors and at the discretion of the judge presiding in the case. It also means deciding how debt will be divided. This can be a big factor when one of the parties has been secretly spending and keeping debt hidden from their spouse.

When financial infidelity or disagreements on spending take their toll on a marriage to the point that a couple wants to permanently separate, our Atlanta divorce lawyers can help. We will work to create a settlement agreement that is fair and equitable. Our team will work hard to help you get a fresh start on the next chapter of your life.


What We Can Learn Through the Ludacris Child Custody Battle | Atlanta Divorce Lawyers

Posted on: January 30th, 2015

Ludacris 2012

At Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC, our Atlanta divorce lawyers often deal with child custody issues. Whether through divorce or adoption, the welfare of children is a top priority for us. That’s why we took interest in the recent child custody battle that took place between rapper Ludacris and the mother of his child, Tameka Fuller.

Ludacris was awarded full custody of 13-month old daughter, Cai Bella, on January 28 after an ugly court battle. One of the most damaging parts of the testimony came from Fuller when she reportedly accused Ludacris of not wanting Fuller to have the child. She reportedly claimed that the rapper offered her $10,000 to have an abortion.

Whether true or not, this would not mean he was a less fit parent. It does mean, however, that when the child is old enough to do her own research, she might inevitably read this statement and feel the pain that comes with wondering if a parent that you love ever wanted you gone.

Take away: It’s very important to remember that during a heated child custody battle, short-term thinking may help your immediate cause, but could potentially leave a ripple effect that will follow you or your children for years to come. Always think of the best interest of your children first.


How The Feeling of “Unfair” Can Cost You Big in a Divorce | Atlanta Divorce Practice

Posted on: January 23rd, 2015

Chunk of Money | Atlanta Divorce PracticeIn our Atlanta divorce practice, we work very hard to help each client get a fair settlement when they are going through a divorce. Our attorneys try to negotiate in a way where all parties feel like it was a win-win for everyone. Unfortunately, we often see a common problem that stands in the way of a quick and equitable settlement: fairness.

When one partner feels that an injustice has taken place, there is a tendency to want to make the other person “pay” for the wrong that is felt. This is called “equity theory” – the way that we feel satisfaction based on how we perceive the overall fairness (or unfairness) of the way that our shared resources are divided.

If one spouse works full time and the other partner stays home to be a full time parent, this can be looked at as unfair by both sides. The working partner might feel that they have had to “work” while the other partner “got to stay home and do nothing.” The stay-at-home parent might feel unfairness because the working partner got to advance in their career while they themselves lost career opportunities.

Often, the feelings of unfairness manifest themselves when a settlement is being negotiated. One partner wants to bring equity to the unfairness that he/she feels by punishing the other in the settlement agreement. This type of emotional rift can translate into lost money in legal fees as the lawyers haggle over things such as who gets a worthless vase – an item that could be purchased many times over by the amount of money being spent to argue over it. Our law practice recognizes the role that emotions can play in a divorce.

When going through a divorce, remember that this can be a costly mistake. Ask yourself if these things that you want to argue over will really be important in a year. When you realize that moving on is the best gift that you can give yourself, go treat yourself to something nice with all of the money you just saved yourself in emotional and legal expenses – you deserve it!


Marry a Friend, Have Happier Life

Posted on: January 15th, 2015

Tourists in France

With divorce at an all-time high, some good news about marriage has arrived! This new study, conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, shows that marriage (especially to your best friend) can make your life happier. In our Atlanta family law practice, we think that’s something to celebrate!

Conducted mostly using data from the United Kingdom, the study says that people who are married are “more satisfied” with their lives than their single counterparts. The researchers says that the happiness is magnified especially during the “mid-life dip” when some couples are known to begin to struggle with issues such as career satisfaction, relationships and health.

The study also explores “friendship as a mechanism” and how marriage to someone who started out as a friend could experience benefits of marriage “twice as large” than those who married someone that they met and began a romantic relationship with to start with.

A Gallup World Poll was also used to “show that although the overall well-being effects of marriage appear to vary across cultural contexts, marriage eases the middle-age dip in life evaluations for all regions except Sub-Saharan Africa.” No explanation was given for why this region didn’t share the same results as their global counterparts.

Bottom line? Marry your best friend and reap the benefits!


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