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Navigating The Road To Divorce

The decision to divorce can be overwhelming. You are faced with changes in every area of your life, worried about your family, uncertain about Georgia laws and where to get family law advice. An experienced attorney can steer you through this chaotic, stressful time to ensure the best possible outcome for the dissolution of your marriage. Our southern Georgia divorce attorney at Dodd & Burnham knows all aspects of domestic relations laws. We can answer any questions you have on matrimonial and family law, including:

  • Grounds for divorce
  • How to file for divorce
  • How property is divided in divorce
  • Merits of divorce mediation

Divorce involves not just the end of a marriage, but also domestic relations issues such as custody, child support, alimony, separation agreements and division of property. The Valdosta divorce attorneys at Dodd & Burnham bring almost 50 years of combined experience to your case, providing compassionate, vigorous representation in all family law matters.

Defenses in Fault-based Divorce: Recrimination

Recrimination is a traditional equitable defense to fault-based divorce actions and is based on the principle that a person seeking justice must come to court with clean hands. It seeks to avoid divorce on the ground that the petitioner has engaged in conduct that would entitle the respondent spouse to a divorce. For example, if a wife files for divorce on the ground of her husband’s cruelty and if she herself is guilty of committing cruelty against her husband, then the recrimination defense would act to prevent dissolution on the ground of the husband’s cruelty. Some states consider or did consider recrimination to be a comparative defense, rather than an absolute defense, in fault-based divorce proceedings. Before the introduction of no-fault grounds of divorce, recrimination worked as a counterclaim defense. If the fault counter-alleged by the respondent is more severe than that the petitioner claims, then the court may grant divorce relief to the respondent. It is conceivable that such a scenario could shift the formulation for child custody and support, alimony, fees and costs, and perhaps even property division in a case. Most states have abolished or limited recrimination as a defense in fault-based divorce. One reason for the restriction is that the recrimination concept invites acrimony and exaggeration of the parties’ differences, which might make the marital relationship even less viable. Some states do not consider recrimination as a bar to granting divorce, but rather as one factor to be considered in a case. Of course, there is no role for recrimination in pure no-fault divorce states.

Property Division in Divorce: Treatment of Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Persons suffering a work-related injury may be entitled to workers’ compensation. It can be paid in installments or as a lump sum covering the costs incurred by the victim of on-the-job accident. For purposes of division in divorce, some states classify workers’ compensation as earnings. Other states treat part of such awards as earnings and part as compensation for pain and suffering resulting from the underlying injury. Under the so-called “wage replacement analysis,” some states characterize workers’ compensation as disability pay. Once classified, workers’ compensation is divided according to the respective states’ divorce property distribution schemes. In common law equitable distribution states, the general presumption is that workers’ compensation is treated as marital property if acquired during the marriage. In pure community property jurisdictions, it is treated as community property if acquired during marriage and as separate property if it is acquired before marriage or after marriage dissolution. Some states deal with workers’ compensation specifically. For example, Missouri sets aside a specified amount of workers’ compensation as the injured spouse’s separate property. The goal is to compensate the injured spouse for the future loss of post-divorce earnings. In pure community property states, workers’ compensation benefits paid in a lump sum after divorce may be divided between community property and separate property. In that scenario, the portion that relates to wages lost during the marriage would go to the community estate. The rest would go to the injured spouse’s separate estate. The individual states’ varying and evolving treatment of workers’ compensation benefits in divorces creates a patchwork system across the country. That makes it important for persons contemplating divorce in which workers’ compensation benefits are involved to consult the law in the state where the divorce will occur.

Committed To Finding The Best Possible Solution

Roger Dodd and Michael Burnham have extensive divorce law experience, as well as, invaluable knowledge of the Georgia court system, domestic relations and divorce law. During a painful time in our clients’ lives, a qualified divorce attorney can be a crucial ally, providing informed advice on a host of family law issues, while ensuring your case runs smoothly in court. When the prospect of divorce renders your future uncertain, consult our divorce law firm for steady, skilled advice on securing the best outcome for yourself and your family. Our domestic relations lawyers can also represent you in prenuptial and postnuptial agreements as well as post-divorce modifications, should you need to re-examine your divorce agreement.

Act Now – Call Today

For a free initial consultation, call 229-474-3609 or use our contact us online for a prompt response from a Valdosta divorce attorney.