How to Prepare for Filing a Georgia Bankruptcy

Posted by on Oct 20, 2018 in Bankruptcy | 0 comments

How to Prepare for Filing a Georgia Bankruptcy

If you find yourself in a situation where you have too much debt that it has become impossible to manage and you have tried everything you can think of, it may be time to consider the option of bankruptcy. Most people don’t even consider bankruptcy as an option due to the stigma that it carries, but it is tool that is there to provide relief and a fresh start for those who really need it. If you are considering filing bankruptcy, there are a several things you should do before you file.

 

Adjust your debt payments if needed

It is advised that you do not pay above the normal balance that you owe to any creditor six (6) months before you file, you may be doing it in good faith but to the court it may look like favoritism to a specific creditor. You can also elect to not continue paying your unsecured debts, if you have any.  However, you should try to pay on any recently incurred debts; the courts do not look favorably on incurring significant debts and not making any payments on them right before filing bankruptcy.

Keep detailed records of collection attempts

It is advisable to keep some sort of log detailing any collection calls by creditors, this can include the name, date, and time the creditor tried to collect. It may seem a bit tedious but it could also be beneficial for you since you have federal rights that protect you from harassment from collectors.

Refrain from extravagant or luxury expenses

It is important that you do not make any big expenses or go all out simply because you are planning on filing for bankruptcy. Doing so can be harmful to your eligibility to and it can be seen as fraudulent. Making large purposes with the intent of not paying back and planning on filing bankruptcy is considered taking advantage of the system and can lead to that specific debt not be discharged in your bankruptcy. Instead of spending the money you have on luxuries, it is better to spend it on necessities such as food or housing. Creditors and the court usually define luxuries as: electronic items (expensive cell phones, TVs, car stereos), jewelry, furniture, expensive clothing, and expensive automobiles.

Get all your required documents together

It is important to be prepared in advance, since time is important. During your bankruptcy process, the court will appoint a trustee to your case. The trustee will be the one that you will interact with and turn in any documents that they ask for; it is advisable to remain on good terms with the bankruptcy trustee since they are the ones who will state to the judge whether you should get a discharge or not. Some of the important documents to have include credit bills from the last six (6) months, bank statements from the last six months, pay stubs or proof of income for the last six (6) months, your driver’s license and social security card, tax returns for the last two (2) years, a title report stating any liens that could be on your property , copies of your deed or mortgage, paperwork from any property transaction for the last two (2) years, and a statement that shows any profit or loss if you own a business.  If you own a business, the bankruptcy trustee in your case will usually ask for copies of business records such as: QuickBooks files, business bank statements, and business tax returns.

Take a credit counseling class

Anyone that files for bankruptcy must take an approved bankruptcy credit counseling course within six (6) months of the bankruptcy filing date. This is mandatory according to bankruptcy law and a certificate of completion must be filed in your case.  The good thing is that there are a few of ways of taking the class.  You can take the class in person, over the phone, or online using the internet. Ask an experienced bankruptcy attorney of if you have any questions about signing up for the class. A competent experienced bankruptcy attorney should be able to refer you to a very low cost credit counseling course that satisfies the court’s requirements for filing bankruptcy. Our office provides a Spanish language translator if needed for taking the class, and you can also take the class in our office if needed.

Speak with an experienced Georgia bankruptcy attorney about filing your case as soon a possible

The bankruptcy process can be difficult to maneuver if you do not have the right knowledge and experience. There are many circumstances that can affect your eligibility of filing for bankruptcy, and then it needs to be determined which Chapter you can file under. It is possible to represent yourself but it is not advised if you have no prior experience with bankruptcy courts as they can be quite difficult. Retaining an experienced Georgia bankruptcy attorney can help you a great deal with a Georgia bankruptcy case filed under Federal and Georgia laws.  How can you identify an experienced bankruptcy attorney? One way is to ask how many cases they have actually filed in their name and attended the required court hearings for. Meeting with an attorney that has filed several hundred cases is good place to start.

Begin thinking of your life after your discharge

Once your debt has been discharged you are free to start over on clean slate, financially at least. It is a good idea to have some goals ion some mind to work towards to. Most people make claims such as living solely on cash from then on, which is nice but also a little inconvenient at times. It might be a good idea to try to start re-establishing some credit. Whatever your goals are, just keep them in mind as you continue to work towards your future. An experienced Georgia bankruptcy attorney should have some helpful information about how to improve your credit score fairly quickly after a bankruptcy. But it is also important to not barrow money unnecessarily just to improve your credit score following a bankruptcy.

Discussing your case with an experienced Georgia bankruptcy attorney

We have filed hundreds of bankruptcy cases in the Northern and Middle Districts of Georgia. These include personal and business cases of varying degrees of complexity. Call us today at 770-609-1247 to discuss how we can assist in your case and to schedule a free consultation. Contact >

 

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Changing Your Name Following a Georgia Divorce

Posted by on May 10, 2018 in Divorce, Family Law | 0 comments

How to Change your Name in a Georgia Divorce

Changing Your Name Following a GA Divorce | Attorneys | 770-609-1247In your divorce you have the ability to opt and change your last name back to a former or maiden name. In Georgia you may request the judge to restore a former name or birth name as a part of your divorce proceeding. See O.C.G.A. Section 9-5-19.  “In all divorce actions, a party may pray in his pleadings for the restoration of a maiden or prior name. If a divorce is granted, the judgment or decree shall specify and restore to the party the name so prayed for in the pleadings.” If the court rules that a requested name change is acceptable then the name change will be granted and included within the final divorce decree. Once the final divorce decree is signed and certified then it will act as the legal document proving the name change. Once you obtain this legal documentation you may use this document to prove your identification and alter your name on personal records. However, the court general limits these name change request to actual former names and not new or variations of former names.  For example, changing your first name from “Vernise” to “Bernice” would not be generally approved if Bernice was not your former name.

I’m Already Divorced in Georgia, Can I Still Change My Name Back?

In the case that your Georgia divorce decree does not include the language to restore your previous name then you may ask the court to modify the order to include the name change. In almost all situations it is possible to make this modification even after the divorce has already been finalized. This may be dependent upon your reasons for the name change.  However, the vast majority of name change requests for adults, especially to a former name are approved and granted by Georgia courts. If needed, your Georgia attorney can file a Petition for Name Change of an AdultSee O.C.G.A. Section 19-12-1. Even in the event that you aren’t able to file the application post-divorce there are other options such as a legal name change that will make it relatively easy to change your name back to its former state. All of the documentation that is generally necessary to obtain this name change is a legal document representing the former name; such as, a birth certificate or passport.  In summary, in Georgia, the legal process of changing a name, if not done as a part of the divorce process (or afterwards), is to file a petition with the court to change your name, satisfy the required public notice / publication requirements and to attend what is usually a brief court hearing to receive a court order officially changing your name.

Is It Legally Difficult to Change Your Name Back in Georgia?

Changing back to a former name is much easier than it is to change to a completely new name. This is primarily due to the fact that the state can legally trace back your identity to the former name via state records. However, a change to a new name may be requested if you are attempting to elude capture, are trying to commit fraud, or are trying to conceal prior arrest or conviction history and therefore the court must go through lengthy bureaucratic investigations to ensure that the name change request is not for the purpose of engaging in such activities. Lengthy bureaucratic investigations are also likely if you are a recent immigrant to the United States or if you are unable to provide documentation that can adequately verify your former name.

If you have questions or would like to inquire about changing your name back to its former state during or following a divorce then you may contact our attorneys at Coleman Legal Group LLC. Our attorneys are experienced in divorce and family law and have experience in legal name changes during and following divorce proceedings. Please contact us today (Phone: 770-609-1247) to schedule your legal consultation. Contact >>

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Standing Orders – Georgia Uncontested Divorce

Posted by on Apr 3, 2018 in Divorce | 0 comments

Standing Orders - Georgia Uncontested Divorce Attorneys

Many clients ask us about the reference to a “Standing Order” when filing for an uncontested divorce in Georgia. 

Although their case is uncontested, the Standing Order still technically applies.  This is because in Georgia, when a domestic relations action (divorce or family law case) is filed, a Standing Order will be issued by the superior court in which it is filed.

Although the parties will usually agree it is unnecessary, in an uncontested divorce proceeding, a Standing Order usually addresses several issues important to the case and safety of the individuals involved.  For example, a Standing Order issued during a Georgia uncontested divorce proceeding will generally prohibit either of the parents from removing the children from the jurisdiction, harassing/stalking one another, selling or otherwise disposing of/moving marital property, etc. The standing order also prohibits either party from employing another person on their behalf that would violate the standing order.

The order applies to the plaintiff when the action is filed, but does not apply to the defendant until he or she is served with the Complaint for Divorce and Standing Order.  The Standing Order can vary from county to county in Georgia.  However, the general requirements are usually similar.

If either you or the other party were to violate the requirements of a Standing Order, you could be found in contempt of court. That being said, exceptions to the standing order may be made after court approval, so if you are not sure that you will be able to obey all of the Standing Order rules for a valid legal reason, you could ask for an exception by filing a motion with the court.

The full text of O.C.G.A. 19-1-1 providing for the issuance of Standing Orders in Georgia divorce and domestic relations case is below.

 

O.C.G.A. 19-1-1. Issuance of certain standing orders in domestic relations cases

 

(a) As used in this Code section, the term “domestic relations action” shall include any action for divorce, alimony, equitable division of assets and liabilities, child custody, child support, legitimization, annulment, determination of paternity, termination of parental rights in connection with an adoption proceeding filed in a superior court, any contempt proceeding relating to enforcement of a decree or order, a petition in respect to modification of a decree or order, an action on a foreign judgment based on alimony or child support, and adoption. The term “domestic relations action” shall also include any direct or collateral attack on a judgment or order entered in any such action.

(b) Upon the filing of any domestic relations action, the court may issue a standing order in such action which:

(1) Upon notice, binds the parties in such action, their agents, servants, and employees, and all other persons acting in concert with such parties;
(2) Enjoins and restrains the parties from unilaterally causing or permitting the minor child or children of the parties to be removed from the jurisdiction of the court without the permission of the court, except in an emergency which has been created by the other party to the action;
(3) Enjoins and restrains each party from doing or attempting to do or threatening to do any act which injures, maltreats, vilifies, molests, or harasses or which may, upon judicial determination, constitute threats, harassment, or stalking the adverse party or the child or children of the parties or any act which constitutes a violation of other civil or criminal laws of this state; and
(4) Enjoins and restrains each party from selling, encumbering, trading, contracting to sell, or otherwise disposing of or removing from the jurisdiction of the court, without the permission of the court, any of the property belonging to the parties except in the ordinary course of business or except in an emergency which has been created by the other party to the action.

(c) Upon written motion of a party, the standing order provided for in this Code section shall be reviewed by the court at any rule nisi hearing.

Examples of Standing Orders throughout Georgia are linked below:

In summary, all Georgia uncontested divorce cases are usually filed under a Standing Order prohibiting the parties from certain conduct and actions.  However, in the context of an uncontested divorce, the protection of the Standing Order is not usually necessary, or a concern to any of the parties.  The court does not generally presume that either of the parties are violating the standing order.  However, if the court does learn that either party is violating the standing order and causing harm in anyway, that party may be found in contempt of the court.

How would the court learn that one of the parties is in violation of the Standing Order?  Almost always, the other spouse would file a Motion for Contempt or a Citation for Contempt against the offending spouse.  Again, in the context of an uncontested divorce, this is unusual.  Usually, contempt issues would become a factor months or years after the uncontested divorce is finalized.  But hurt feelings, anger, and a desire for revenge and to cause legal problems for another spouse could lead to a one spouse filing for contempt under the Standing Order.

Navigating a Georgia Uncontested Divorce and Standing Order

If you are facing an uncontested divorce in Georgia and have questions about the cost, process, or requirements under the Standing Order – call us today at 770-609-1247.  Our Georgia uncontested divorce attorneys have experience in all types of cases, including: complex, simple, with and without minor children, same-sex, and case with immigration issues.  Contact >

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Divorce, Annulment and Separate Maintenance in Georgia

Posted by on Mar 22, 2018 in Divorce, Family Law | 0 comments

Divorce, Annulment and Separate Maintenance in Georgia | Georgia Attorneys

Should the time come that a married couple no longer wants to be together, they may have some questions about their options regarding divorce, annulment or separate maintenance. Some couples automatically assume that divorce is the only way, but there is also the option of legal separation – and is some rare instances an annulment of the marriage is possible.  Below are some frequently asked questions our clients ask in regard to Georgia legal separation, annulment and divorce cases that can help you make an informed decision about your future.

What is a divorce in Georgia?

Simply put, a divorce is the legal termination of a marriage between two people.  The grounds for a divorce in Georgia are listed in O.C.G.A. § 19-5-3.

What is an annulment in Georgia?

It is the undoing or voiding of a marriage, as if the couple was never married.  Georgia’s law regarding when an annulment can be granted is listed in O.C.G.A. § 19-4-1.

Do we have to be living separately before getting a divorce, separation or annulment in Georgia?

No, you do not have to be living at separate addresses to get a divorce, separation or annulment.  However, there is a residency requirement (6 months) for divorce – and their is an expectation that the parties have not had sexual relations within thirty (30) days of the granting of the divorce or separation.  A divorce or separation can be dismissed if the parties reconcile – even if it is just for a short time.

What is legal separation / separate maintenance in Georgia?

Legally speaking, there is no legal separation in the state of Georgia, there is something called separate maintenance. Separate maintenance is the separation of spouses without the marriage being legally terminated. There are still decisions made about child support, custody and alimony just like a divorce. This means that the couple is still married but not responsible for each other.  The general provisions for separate maintenance are listed in O.C.G.A. § 19-6-10.

Why would I choose to still be married but be separated?

There could be some factors that don’t let you be fully divorced at the time. For example, should you not meet the residency requirement of Georgia to be divorced (which is 6 months) but you don’t want to be together with your spouse, you can for for separate maintenance (a separation) until you meet the requirements to for for divorce. The potential divorce filer may not be ready for divorce, but still needs financial support, or to maintain health insurance.  After a person has resided in Georgia for six (6) months, they can file for divorce.  Many cases start off as a separate maintenance action are later dismissed and refiled as a divorce case before the original case is completed.

Can I marry someone else if I am legally separated from my spouse in Georgia?

No, since you are not actually divorced, it is not possible for you to remarry while separated or under a “separate maintenance” order. In addition, it is against the law in Georgia to marry someone unless your existing marriage has been terminated by divorce or annulment, and Georgia will treat this as bigamy, which is a serious criminal matter, which includes arrest and imprisonment if convicted. If arrested for bigamy, you may need to prove your previous marriage was terminated by divorce or annulment to be released from jail. Previous marriages include marriages in other countries and states. See O.C.G.A § 16-6-20 for more information.

What happens to our children?

Just like in a divorce, there has to be determinations made about who gets custody of the children, visiting times, and child support.  Custody: See O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3. Child Support: See O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15.

What are the requirements to get a separate maintenance order in Georgia?

In Georgia, all that is required for a separate maintenance is that you have a valid marriage and live in a state of separation and the other spouse must be personally served (deliver the documents). If the other spouse cannot be personally served, the filing spouse will have to get a divorce instead.

Do I or my spouse have to move out?

In Georgia, it is possible to live in the same house but the spouses cannot share the same bed or have ongoing sexual relations. In general, their lives should be separate. A divorce or separate maintenance case can be dismissed if the court finds out that the parties have reconciled since the case was filed. While this is not common, it is sometimes used as a reason for one spouse to ask the court to dismiss the case if they do not want it to proceed. If a case is dismissed, it can be refiled later if the parties are separated again, but the whole case will need to start over.

Where do I file for divorce, separate maintenance or an annulment in Georgia?

Usually a case is filed in the county of the defendant’s (the spouse being served) residence.  But this is not always necessary; many divorce cases can be filed in Georgia by the plaintiff even if their spouse lives in another state or country.  However, the other party will need to be properly served with the divorce, separate maintenance or annulment case.  Proper service can include Service by Publication for parties that cannot be found.  Also, a case can almost always be filed in the county either party lives if the case is uncontested.  See O.C.G.A. § 9-11-4 for more information regarding service of process.

Do we still have to go to court in Georgia?

If it is a Georgia uncontested divorce or separate maintenance action  (meaning that the spouses can reach agreements), the only reason to see a judge would be to get approval for the agreements made. However, with the help of an experienced divorce and family law attorney, most court hearings for uncontested divorce and separate maintenance cases can be avoided.  In a contested case (the spouses cannot reach an agreement on some issues) the judge will have to make the decisions on issues that cannot be agreed upon by the couple.  This will almost always require the person bringing the case (the plaintiff) to appear in court.  Annulments in Georgia cannot be filed as an uncontested matter.

What if we want a divorce later?

You can get a divorce after a separate maintenance, however, the agreement signed during the separation will be used to for the divorce agreement, so be sure to carefully examine it before signing.

Who should I call for help?

It is best to start with an experienced divorce and family law attorney that practices in the jurisdiction and county you live, or your spouse lives.  If you have questions about a Georgia divorce, separate maintenance action, or annulment case, call us at 770-609-1247 to speak with one or our experienced attorneys.

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Georgia Divorce – Service by Publication

Posted by on Mar 20, 2018 in Divorce | 0 comments

Georgia Divorce - Service by Publication - Coleman Legal Group, LLC

What do I do if I want to get a Georgia divorce but I cannot find my spouse?  

The answer is  Service by Publication.  When one spouse wants to call it quits but cannot find his or her missing partner, or when he or she is hiding, divorce by publication comes into play. Divorce by publication happens only after a judge has been convinced, based on a sworn declaration, of the serving party’s inability to find the other spouse after trying hard. Service by publication is commonly used in a divorce action to serve a spouse who has disappeared without a leaving a forwarding address. When the other spouse cannot or will not be found and fails to respond to the summons, the Petitioner must conduct what is known as a diligent search followed by Service by Publication ( See O.C.G.A. § 9-11-4 )

Service by Publication Search Requirements and Process

Courts in the state of Georgia require a good faith effort by the Petitioner to prove that he or she has made a genuine search for his or her missing partner. This search consists of:

  • checking the telephone book and directory assistance for the missing spouse in the area where the Petitioner (person asking for the divorce) lives;
  • checking the telephone book and directory assistance in the area where the missing spouse is last known to have lived;
  • asking friends and relatives who might know the location of the missing spouse;
  • checking the post office for any forwarding address of the missing spouse;
  • checking records of the tax collector and property assessor to see if the missing spouse owns property;
  • contacting the department of motor vehicles for registrations in the name of the missing spouse;
  • checking any other possible sources that might lead to a current address.

In order to be eligible for a divorce by publication, you must complete and submit an Affidavit of Diligent Search to the court. This document clearly outlines all of the actions you have taken to locate your spouse, essentially proving to the court that your spouse absolutely can’t be found. If you actively pursue locating your spouse through the methods outlined in the Affidavit of Diligent Search, and still can’t locate your spouse, then a divorce by publication is your likely method of getting a divorce.

Filing for Divorce by Publication in Georgia

If nothing results from the search, the petitioner files an Affidavit of Publication and Diligent Search, a notarized statement affirming that the petitioner has checked with the other spouse’s friends and relatives, his or her landlord and searched telephone directories and information. When the court is satisfied with the effort, it issues an Order of Publication, which gives the petitioner permission to publish a Notice of Publication four times within 60 days, with each publication being seven days apart. The publication is often in the county where the action is filed. If the missing spouse fails to respond within one week of the last publication of the notice, the court considers the action uncontested. The Plaintiff can schedule a hearing to finalize the action. The clerk of the court usually sends the notice to the newspaper to be published, but the petitioner pays the cost which varies on price. This is in addition to the average $75 divorce filing fees. Generally, from start to finish, service by publication takes about three to four months. The court can grant the divorce in a publication action, but it cannot make any decisions regarding child custody, child support or division of property.

If you need to speak with an attorney about a divorce in the Alpharetta, Roswell, Johns Creek, Milton, Atlanta, Cumming, and Metro-Atlanta area about a divorce, call us at 770-609-1247 to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.  Contact >

 

 

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