Carter, Carter & Carter, Attorneys at Law, LLC

Family law pitfalls can be largely avoided by careful planning

There are certain general rules to follow in Georgia and elsewhere when obtaining a divorce. One pervasive common-sense requirement is to keep quiet on social media. Many people have been embarrassed and put in a defensive position by boasting or talking about private financial matters or other issues relevant to the marriage online. If one reveals a good financial statement to impress new social interests online this may reverberate back to the courtroom where the person's alimony payments may be adjusted upward.

The lesson to be learned is that, as they say, "loose lips sink ships." Another mistake that is commonly made is for a person to neglect gathering all of the financial records, both individual and marital, prior to separating. It may be difficult to get the documents after the separation, so copy all financial records as soon as possible. This is a common sense matter and in most cases there is no reason why both spouses cannot cooperate so that each of them will have a full set of all pertinent documentation by the time that they separate.

This includes the need to document all assets, all bank and investment accounts, all bills and liabilities, mortgages, real estate, retirement accounts, life insurance and the list goes on. The point is to be prepared to show the full and accurate picture of the couple's finances when together and pertinent individual factors both while together and post-separation. Trying to hide assets is improper and could result in severe setbacks in divorce negotiations when one is discovered.

It is a generally accepted positive step for both parties to agree on closing joint debt and credit card accounts and for the person who will be responsible, if any, to open a new account going forward. With respect to marital real estate, the disposition and transfer of liability will likely need to go through the attorneys and to be reduced to writing to protect both parties. There are many more common sense rules and principles of family law in Georgia and other states; accordingly, it is necessary to go through the list with one's divorce attorney to assure that all issues have been covered.

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