Atlanta Divorce Law Group - April 2020

BUSINESS AS USUAL WE’RE HERE THROUGH THE CRISIS

April 2020

Growing up, my family lived through a lot of change. I was born in 1983, during a time of war between Iraq and Iran. I have memories from my childhood of running to bomb shelters during the war. Eventually, my family immigrated, first to Sweden, and then to the United States. As a kid, my parents often talked about how they went to bed living in a free country, one where you could wear miniskirts, enjoy education, and express yourself. In the morning when they woke up, everything had changed. Women were told they had to cover their hair, and people were required to go to the mosque to pray multiple times a day. I am writing this on March 25, and even with all of the change I’ve personally experienced in my life, up until this point I’ve never fully appreciated what my parents went through until last week when we suddenly all felt the need to quarantine ourselves. Last week, our lives changed overnight. At Atlanta Divorce Law Group, we went fully virtual as soon as possible. We wanted to, because we wanted to make sure that our firm was doing our part. As schools closed and people all around us ceased to live normally, we felt it was the right thing to do for our employees, for our clients, and for our community. If ever there was a time when families felt pressure, it’s now. There is the pressure of work, of educating children at home, of staying healthy, and of personal finances. Still, we want to urge you not to forfeit progress in your life just because of this pandemic. At ADLG, we are still offering consultations to our clients virtually. Some of our clients, we know, don’t have the luxury of a private space where they can openly discuss their needs. If that describes you, we are providing space in our conference rooms so that we can keep the doors of communication open. For our clients who need to sign, pick-up, or drop-off a document, we are continuing to do that by appointment. If you are struggling through life in a toxic home environment, know this: The courts are still operating in a way that can provide protections for victims of domestic violence, people who need restraining orders, and other emergency situations. They haven’t shut down. And for the rest of our clients, know that the majority of family law cases

are settled outside of the courts anyways, through processes like mediation, dispute resolutions, and negotiations. Even in this difficult time, there is a lot you can do right now to feel like you have control over your life. I have been reaching out to my clients to see how I can serve them, regardless of whether it is within our area of specialty a lot. At ADLG, we are an office full of parents. We are an office full of personal experience with divorce, and we’ve never felt as connected to our clients as we do right now, or as full of desire to help them. We have a sea of resources we can connect you with, and we are here for you in whatever capacity you need. As we move through this shared experience, ADLG will continue to offer complimentary group therapy for our clients who are going through a divorce, but meetings will now be held virtually. Do not hesitate to reach out about it. As parents, we know many of our clients are worried about adding additional stress to their children’s lives by going through with a divorce. They don’t want to do anything that will make any of this harder on their children. If that is your concern, I would remind you that what harms our children isn’t change. Change is natural. What harms our children is a toxic home environment. And right now, the best thing we can do for our kids is to be the most emotionally healthy and vibrant versions of ourselves that we can be, so that one day, if they have to face something like this on their own, they will have the resilience to face it with grace. I will leave you with this: A prayer for a healthy future, and for all of us to gain some resilience through this shared experience.

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–Sara Khaki

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WHAT’S HAPPENING AT ATLANTA DIVORCE LAW GROUP?

Divorce alters the entire landscape of your life. According to WebMD.com, the grief experienced by people going through a divorce is often equitable to the grief experienced after the death of a loved one. Common challenges for newly divorced people include worrying about housing and finances, grief over a lost life, and stress over the legal process.

WHAT: Hosted by Kathleen Shack, MS, LMFT, Happily Ever After Divorce Support Group is focused on helping people connect. The group strives to help members let go of wanting to know why their divorce happened and start looking toward their future. Here, group members can explore feelings of anger, bitterness, sadness, and grief in a safe and supportive zone. Please call ahead to confirm in- person events will be held. DIVORCE PROCESS 101 WHEN: Thursday, April 16; 6:30–7:30 p.m. WHERE: https://atlantadivorcelawgroup.com/ seminars/considering-divorce/ (Virtual Meeting) WHAT: So much of getting a divorce is about stepping into the unknown, but the legal processes involved in getting a divorce don’t

Making the decision to enter the divorce process involves stepping out of what is safe and familiar and into the unknown, and support from others is one of the keys to thriving, not just surviving, in a divorce. At Atlanta Divorce Law Group, we are committed to providing support for our clients, whether that means providing legal support or connecting our clients to social support. If you are seeking social support or education about the legal processes involved in divorce, consider attending the following complimentary events: HAPPILY EVER AFTER DIVORCE SUPPORT GROUP

have to be a mystery. At our Divorce Process 101 seminar, come enjoy light refreshments and a free overview of what the legal process of divorce looks like. Please call ahead to confirm this event will take place.

WHEN: Wednesday, April 15 WHERE: https://atlantadivorcelawgroup. com/happily-ever-after-divorce-support- group/#calendar (Virtual Meeting)

Visit AtlantaDivorceLawGroup.com to register or to learn more.

Helping Your Child Overcome Anxiety THE AGE OF STRESS

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CHILD IS STRESSED?

It’s hard to imagine kids as anything but carefree, happy, and eager to explore the world around them. However, children experience stress just like adults do, which can severely impact their typically cheerful dispositions. Since April is National Stress Awareness Month, now is an opportune time to familiarize yourself with tools and information that can help you alleviate your child’s stress.

Don’t stop here. For more tools and information regarding stress reduction in children, visit KidsHealth.org or contact your doctor.

When a kid is stressed, they will exhibit odd behavior and even undergo physical changes. Depending on your child’s age, watch for mood swings, changes in sleep patterns, headaches, trouble focusing, or withdrawal from the people around them. According to KidsHealth.org, younger children may also pick up habits like twirling their hair or sucking their thumb, while older kids may start to bully others, lie, or rebel.

WHAT ARE THEIR STRESSORS?

CAN I HELP REDUCE THEIR STRESS?

Any number of everyday factors can lead to stress, and stress can plague anyone who feels overwhelmed. Toddlers and young children going to day care or school for the first time may experience separation anxiety due to being apart from their parents. Older kids and teenagers may feel mounting social and academic pressure. Even something as simple as overhearing loved ones arguing or seeing a sad news report can add to a child’s stress levels.

According to KidsHealth.org, good nutrition, proper rest, and healthy attention are great ways to help kids manage their stress. Set time aside each day to talk and spend time with your children; talking about worries will reduce or relieve anxieties. If you know about an upcoming stressful situation, like a school exam or a health checkup, prepare your child by studying with them or talking to them about what to expect.

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SEE SPRING BLOOM IN THESE BEAUTIFUL LOCATIONS

Spring is here, which means beautiful flowers are finally showing themselves after a long winter. Here are some of the best places in the U.S. to see flower blossoms and welcome the season. GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS The Great Smoky Mountains National Park stretches across North Carolina and Tennessee, and while its scenery is

which features nature walks, art, photography, culinary experiences, and more. For a truly unique experience, you can even ascend the town’s titular Crested Butte to spot some rare alpine sunflowers next to the picturesque West Elk Mountains.

ANTELOPE VALLEY The California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster, California, is a 1,780-acre park that features sloping hills covered with fields of vibrant orange, yellow, and red poppies in the spring. Warm temperatures and heavy rainfall across Southern California during this time of year create a brief period of thick blooms as far as the eye can see. And while the poppies can be enjoyed from the comfort of your car, the best way to experience them is to walk the leisurely Antelope Loop Trail for a breathtaking, up-close adventure.

beautiful year-round, the park is especially alluring to nature enthusiasts during the spring. Through this season, miles of lady’s-slipper orchids, irises, cardinal flowers, and lilies dot its lush green landscape. It’s dubbed “Wildflower National Park” throughout this time of year, and you can experience it by car or on foot. The park also offers expert-led tours that weave through the flowers during their peak bloom.

CRESTED BUTTE Crested Butte, Colorado, is best known for its winter sports and summer hikes. But recently it has drawn the attention of flower enthusiasts for its unique pink, orange, and gold alpine wildflowers that appear in the spring. This natural phenomenon even inspired the creation of the annual Wildflower Festival in midsummer,

Spring flora is gorgeous and naturally attracts large crowds of people every year. If you plan to visit any of these destinations, just remember that their ecosystems are delicate. Respect park signs, stay on designated trails, and do your part to make sure these flowers return year after year for future generations to enjoy.

CONCIERGE PARTNERS’ CORNER:

HERE’S WHAT OUR Clients Are Saying!

Meet Marsha Schechtman, LCSW

At Atlanta Divorce Law Group, one of the ways we support our clients is by providing them with a network of vetted professionals most frequently needed when you are going through a divorce. This month, meet Marsha Schechtman. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in working with families going through divorce and the custody disputes that can result from divorce.

“The team is incredibly knowledgeable and caring and has best client service! They really know how to get their clients through a hard time. It feels so good to be supported when life takes a direction different than what you thought.”

Ms. Schechtman has been practicing in the Atlanta area since 1983. She has a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of South Florida and a master’s degree in social work from Florida State University. Ms. Schechtman offers a broad spectrum of services built around supporting people who are going through a divorce, from co-parenting counseling, to child custody evaluations and mediation. Ms. Schechtman also provides couples counseling, as well as psychotherapeutic treatments to adults and children in the areas of mood, anxiety and sleep disorders.

– Davina D., Five Stars

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BUILDING A FINANCIALLY EMPOWERED MARRIAGE

April is Financial Literacy Month, and my line of work lets me take an abnormally deep look into how money works within a marriage. After helping more couples than I can count divide their assets, I’ve come to the conclusion that when just one spouse is solely in charge of managing the bills and saving for retirement — understanding what is going in and what is coming out — it breeds resentment. If you are the person doing all the household bookkeeping, it can breed resentment because you feel underappreciated for bearing the brunt of that responsibility, and if you are the spouse who isn’t the bookkeeper, being financially dependent on someone else can breed resentment, too. Really, in a healthy marriage, you want to be in a partnership where both people feel like equals in contribution. It doesn’t matter if one person contributes by upkeeping the home and one contributes by bringing home income, both partners need to see the value in what the other brings to the table. Both partners need to have their eyes wide open and understand whether or not they’re living within their means. Both partners need to have some level of literacy about what retirement planning looks like. They both need to understand things like what distinguishes an IRA from a 401(k) and what their lifestyle will look like in 20 years at their current savings rate. That’s the sort of shared financial literacy that empowers a marriage and builds a true partnership. If a marriage does end in divorce and one party has delegated the management of their financial life to their spouse, having an imbalanced understanding of the finances can cause a lot of problems. It can cause the nonbookkeeper spouse to believe there are assets they don’t know about, and both partners can end up spending a ton of money on attorney fees that would have been easily avoidable if they both knew from the beginning what it took to support their lifestyle. In this situation, a spouse might be fighting over assets that aren’t even there and depleting what’s left of the couple’s collective assets in the divorce process.

On the other side of the spectrum, you might have a spouse who is financially abusive. In this scenario, if you haven’t nurtured your own financial literacy, you risk losing out on assets that you are legally entitled to. I had one client who chose to stay in the home and care for several disabled children. She moved several times in support of her spouse’s career, but once they headed toward divorce, her husband made her feel like she hadn’t contributed to building their assets. Of course, that’s not how the law sees it, and for good reason. Think about it: If that couple had paid for child care all those years — not to mention if the husband hadn’t been able to move for work to build his career — how much worse off financially would that couple be? Clearly, the cost-benefit analysis of her time told a different story, but when you don’t take time to cultivate financial literacy within a

marriage, that is the kind of situation you might find yourself in. In that particular situation, it was my job as her attorney to protect her from her spouse’s abusive accusations and remind her that as far as the law was concerned, she was an equal in what the marriage created. Regardless of which side of the coin you fall on, allowing yourself or your spouse to be in the dark when it comes to money isn’t good for your marriage, and it isn’t a risk worth taking. This April, for Financial Literacy Month, my hope is that you do just one thing to make sure your marriage is a financially empowered partnership. When you and your spouse talk openly about finances, everybody wins!

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