Everyone contemplating divorce should have a consultation with a practicing family law attorney. Consultations typically last one to two hours and are confidential. One attorney cannot give legal advice to both parties without violating Georgia State Bar Rules. Hiring an attorney for representation ensures the best opportunity for a good settlement.

To successfully settle your divorce case, you need full knowledge of all the assets which have been accumulated during the marriage and the income of each party. All of this should be supported with financial records and tax returns. An experienced family law attorney will know what to request and how to efficiently obtain records.

Prior to settlement, each party should be familiar with Georgia law on equitable division of assets, the definition of marital and separate property, the types of custody, the legal standard the Court uses to determine custody in divorce, and the computation of alimony and child support. Prior to settlement, each party should know how judges in their judicial circuit handle all of these issues.

Only an experienced family law attorney can discuss the range of settlement based upon possible trial outcomes. This comes through courtroom experience. Without knowing the realistic parameters of what your Court would do, it is impossible to know the parameters of settlement.

A spouse who is less informed concerning household finances, assets, and income should avoid pressure or misrepresentations from the other spouse to prematurely settle a case without proper legal advice. When this occurs, assets are often left undisclosed and child support and alimony may be incorrectly computed. Never succumb to fear mongering that obtaining legal advice will “make the other spouse mad,” “run up legal fees,” or “cost you custody.” Pressure tactics in sales don’t work and they shouldn’t in divorce either.

Be careful of the distraction of the Internet. It is filled with people using enticements to direct divorce traffic to their doors. Skilled lawyers, however, often use professionals as needed in the divorce process to assist clients in constructing a comprehensive marital balance sheet and budget of living expenses, in valuing a business, or engaging in forensic accounting where there is fraud.

Remember, you have one chance to get it right in doing what is in the best interests of your children and equitably dividing assets. Legal representation can remove the stress and ensure success.

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