Get Organized Immediately
This is the first of a four-part series regarding the important steps you must take immediately after your Gwinnett divorce is finalized. After a Georgia divorce is final, whether it is an uncontested or contested divorce case, you are often emotionally and financially exhausted. Although the temptation is to think that nothing else needs to be done once the divorce is over, you must know, however, that there are many things that need your immediate attention to help avoid future problems and headaches with your ex and with the courts. As a Lawrenceville-based divorce attorney having practiced law for over twenty years in Gwinnett County and all around the state of Georgia, Douglas W. Lewis, Esq. knows how important it is to get organized immediately after the divorce is finalized to help avoid the possibility of post-divorce issues and conflict.
Being organized and having all of your important divorce documents in one central place is very important in helping to avoid conflict with the ex-spouse and any confusion with what is required by the Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce.
Keep your certified copy of the Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce in a safe and secure place. You may also want to obtain additional certified copies of the Gwinnett County Divorce Decree from the clerk's office. The Gwinnett County Superior Court Clerk charges $2.50 for a certified copy of the first page of a document and $.50 for each additional page. The Clerk's office is located on the first floor of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center (GJAC) at 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia.
You will also want to get a ‘filed-in' copy of any other important divorce documents which may include a Settlement Agreement, Parenting Plan, Child Support Worksheet, Child Support Addendum, Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), Income Deduction Order or Income Withholding Order, and Quit Claim Deed.
Print my Post-Divorce Checklist and use it as a To-Do List for important things that need to be done immediately after your divorce is final. There are several installments in this series which explain in detail the items appearing on the Checklist.
Keep a folder for each item you are required to do by the terms of the Final Judgment or Settlement Agreement such as closing an account or refinancing a mortgage.
Schedule a Date and Time to Conduct The Exchange of Any Personal Property
If you and your former spouse are to pick up personal property from the other then you will need to schedule a date, time and location to do so if the Final Judgment or Settlement Agreement does not specify a time. If the Agreement does specify a date and time then contact your former spouse in advance by email or text to confirm the details of the exchange to avoid any misunderstandings.
Change the Locks to your House, the Codes to your Garage and Security System, and the Passwords to your Bank Accounts and Social Media Accounts
Be sure to change all of these if you have not already to ensure that your ex-spouse does not attempt to take advantage of you.
Keep a Calendar and/or Journal
If you have a minor child or children I strongly advise that you select a separate calendar (paper calendar or one on your computer) and dedicate it solely for the purpose of keeping track of the visitation or parenting time schedule contained in the Settlement Agreement or Parenting Plan. Go through and fill out the entire calendar indicating which parent is to have the minor children on which days, especially in regards to the holidays and summer. I also advise that you mark on your calendar when either parent is to give advanced notice by in regards to summer visitation so that deadlines are not missed.
You can also use the calendar or a journal to make brief notations about whether visitation took place at certain times and if any issues came up during those visitation or parenting time periods. This will help you be able to refresh your memory at a later date in case there is ever a dispute or a court hearing involving contempt or modification issues is required. You can also make notations regarding doctor appointments, illnesses, school functions, sporting events, and other important matters involving your minor children.
I also advise that you keep a separate journal to keep track of child support and/or alimony payments made and received noting the date the payment was received, the form of the payment and the amount of the payment. I would also make copies of each payment.
Attempt to Communicate with Your Ex-Spouse and Confirm via Email or Text Important Events and Visitation Periods Regarding the Minor Children
If you have minor children I recommend that you try to maintain a cordial relationship with your ex-spouse as he or she is still your children's parent and it is important for your children to see that you and your spouse get along even after a divorce. To avoid any misunderstandings contact your former spouse in advance to confirm any important upcoming events such as the dates of the parties' visitation with the minor children during a holiday or during the summer break for school. It is always best to discuss and deal with any such issues in advance rather than after the fact when one parent contends he or she never got a notice or they misinterpreted the language of the Court's Order or the Settlement Agreement.
Keep Your Attorney Updated and Informed
Be sure to keep your divorce attorney updated when you complete any task that is required of you by the terms Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce or Settlement Agreement such as signing a Quit Claim Deed, transferring a title to a vehicle to your former spouse or the completion of a mortgage refinance closing. Also be sure to contact your attorney if your former spouse is not complying with the terms of the Final Judgment or Settlement Agreement.
Gwinnett County Divorce and Family Law Attorney Douglas W. Lewis has over twenty years of experience in Gwinnett County and the Atlanta Metro area handling divorce, paternity, legitimation, and family law cases. If you have any questions or want to schedule an office consultation then please contact Doug Lewis at 770-682-3765 or via email.