Archive for May, 2013

Georgia Military Divorces

Posted on: May 31st, 2013

Georgia divorces involving an individual that is serving in active duty, the reserves, National Guard, or retired military are referred to as a military divorce. Being a service member does not exempt an individual or couple from the same requirements that civilian couples must meet when filing for divorce. The difference between a civilian and military divorce is a set of unique rules regarding the division of military pensions, residency requirements for divorce filing, and legal protections for the military member.

Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act federal law will not divide nor distribute a military members retirement to a spouse unless the service member and spouse have been married for 10 years or longer while the member has been in active military duty. To be eligible for full benefits after retirement, including medical, a spouse must pass the 20/20/20 test in which the marriage has lasted at least 20 years, the military member performed at least 20 years of service, and there was at least 20 years overlap of the marriage and time spent in the military services.

In terms of GA divorce residency requirements for filing a military divorce, many states will allow a military member or their spouse to file in the state the military member is stationed, the state where the spouse filing resides, or the state where the military member claims legal residency. The couple will be subject to the laws of the state where the divorce petition is filed including laws regarding property distribution, child custody, and child support.

An active duty member has legal protection from being held in default from failing to respond to legal action. Under the Service Members Civil Relief Act military members are protected from lawsuits such as divorce petitions so the serving member can “devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation.” In effect, the legal proceedings of a divorce can be delayed while the service member is in active duty and up to 60 days following active duty.

If you are an active service member seeking a divorce, we strongly recommend you consult with our Divorce Attorney Jeff Cleghorn, a military veteran. To set up a consultation, give us a call at (404-844-2856).

Actions To Take After Your Georgia Divorce

Posted on: May 29th, 2013

After final divorce papers have been handed over, newly divorced couples often fail to update important documents affected by the divorce. Our lawyers will inform you of the steps you should take, and things you should do, after your divorce is finalized, and a proactive approach is the best way to avoid future perils created by the neglected loose ends of a divorce. To avoid these issues several main documents should be updated immediately after a divorce is finalized.

Will and Estate Planning

Because family circumstances may have changed a new will should be written or an existing will should be amended. How property will be distributed and the executor of your estate may need to be changed.

Living Trust

Many living trusts are revocable and capable of being changed. Who will receive property and who will manage the trust should be reviewed.

Life Insurance

If your ex-spouse is listed as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, a new person may need to be named.

Power of Attorney

In a case of mental or physical disability it is important to update who will manage your business affairs and your health care decisions.

Bank Accounts

Ex-spouses should be removed as an authorized signer on your bank accounts, mutual funds, and money market funds.

Credit Cards

Credit cards held jointly by you and your former spouse should be closed or have your former spouse’s name removed from the account.

The importance of having all relevant businesses and parties informed on your updated marital status is high. All official and business records are subject to change due to a new marital status after your divorce. The list above is for general guidance and is not complete. Please speak with one of our attorneys to assist you with changes to your legal documents.

Please note that the following article was not written by an attorney and should not be construed as legal advice. We strongly recommend you speak with one of our attorneys about your particular legal situation.

Atlanta Domestic Violence Lawyer & Protective Orders

Posted on: May 27th, 2013

Family violence in Georgia occurs when a family or household member harms or attempts to harm another family or household member. Family violence also includes threats of violence or a strong belief that a family member will cause harm in the near future. Family violence in Georgia is a serious crime and laws are in place to protect the abused.

A GA Family Violence Protection Order is a legal document written by a court prohibiting a member of a family or household from remaining in the household or from contacting or coming near the abused. If the abuser violates the order then serious legal consequences will result with violation being punishable by a large fine or confinement in jail for an extended period of time. Both males and females can seek the civil legal protection of a GA Family Violence Protection Order.

Specifically, the order may state that an abuser must:

* Leave the abused alone
* Leave the place of residence (If the abused is not in possession of the home assistance to obtain personal property and temporary residence is granted)
* Give the abused temporary custody of children and set temporary visitation
* Award the abused with temporary child/GA spousal support
* Attend counseling

To obtain a Family Violence Protective Order an application must be filed with the court. A citation will then be sent to the alleged perpetrator and a court hearing will be held. If the order is granted it can be effective for up to a year although if the threat of abuse still persists a court can extend the order. A GA temporary restraining order may also be requested for the time required to serve the citation to the abuser and hold a hearing.

Family violence causes legal, physical, financial, and emotional complexities. Filing a Family Violence Protective Order in Georgia can relieve some of these problems. If you or other members of your family are victim to family violence please contact one of our domestic violence attorneys in Atlanta to assist you with protection from your abuser.

Please note that the above article may not have been written by an attorney, and should in no way be construed as legal advice particular to your situation. Contact one of our family law attorneys if you are dealing with an issue of domestic violence or feel you may need a family violence protective order.

Separation of Marital Assets in Georgia

Posted on: May 24th, 2013

One of the most important questions in a Georgia divorce is “who gets what?” Splitting property can be just as traumatic as splitting the relationship. Because so much is at stake, below you will find important information, but if you are dealing with the separation of marital assets during a divorce we strongly recommend you contact a divorce lawyer who can help you navigate your divorce and property settlement.

According to Georgia’s family law rules, the courts are to “equitably distribute” marital property. This begs two questions. What is equitable, and what is marital property? Neither question is what it first appears.

Equitable distribution is best described as what is fair, rather than what is equal. So if the court decides that a 60-40 split is more fair than a 50-50 split of the property, than that is what the court will do. The court can base its reasoning on any number of factors, including how much each spouse contributed to the purchase of the property, each spouse’s occupation, if the divorce was “for cause,” if there are children, who has primary custody of the children, etc. In short, the court can consider almost any factor which would help it arrive at a fair or equitable distribution of the Georgia marital property.

Georgia marital property is, in layman’s terms, property acquired during and as a part of the marriage. The most common example is a house jointly bought by a husband and wife. Property owned individually before the marriage, such as bank accounts, is not considered marital property. Further, property acquired individually during the marriage is often not considered marital property. For example, if the husband receives a gift of golf clubs from a friend as a birthday present, or the wife inherits some family heirlooms from her parents while they are married, the property is often considered to be separate. Individual property can become marital property, however, if one is not careful. For example, if the husband buys himself a car with his own money, but allows his wife to use the car for family errands, it might be “converted” into marital property by the court.

As you can see, the division of property upon divorce can become very complicated, very quickly. The facts of each case often make or break the separation of marital assets settlement, and we recommend that you have one of our GA divorce attorneys on your side to make sure you aren’t taken advantage of.

Taking The First Step

As can be seen above, issues regarding the separation of marital property can be confusing and sometimes murky, and the help of an experienced attorney to help ensure that your interests are well protected will be invaluable. If you are dealing with a GA divorce, we advise you to speak with one of our divorce lawyers sooner rather than later. Please note that for a typical divorce, our law firm retainer begins at $2,500.00. If you would like to talk with one of our family law attorneys about representing you, either fill out the brief form to your left or give us a call.

Drafting a Last Will and Testament for Gay Couples in Georgia

Posted on: May 22nd, 2013

Most people don’t like to think about drafting a Last Will & Testament because they don’t like to think about dying. After all, death is never a pleasant subject, especially when it’s your own death! Yet anybody who owns property, has money or investments, or has children, should have a Will. Especially after a divorce, drafting a Will is a necessity (as well as changing the beneficiary of any life insurance policies you may own).

The reason that everyone should have a Will is simple: If you don’t have a Will the courts will decide what happens to your money, property and children after your death.

In most cases the court will take the easy way out and give your money and property to your closest living relative. This means that somebody you don’t like or trust could end up with your house, your bank accounts, your valuables and everything else you have.

If you want one particular person who is not related to you to have something of yours, or inherit everything, you will have to have a Will. If there is no Will that individual could be left with nothing. Especially in the case of domestic partnerships in Georgia, since same-sex couples are not legally allowed to marry in Georgia, gay couples must be especially vigilant about maintaining a Will and should speak with one of our family law attorneys about protecting the legal rights of their partners.

Creating a Last Will and Testament in Georgia:

Fortunately, the average Georgia Will doesn’t have to be that complex. If you don’t have that much money or property, a basic Will should suffice. Our attorneys will maintain a hard copy of the Will, and make sure it is legally signed and notarized.

Your heir should have a copy of the Will. Always make sure your heirs are aware of the Will and know where to find it. If you have more than one heir make sure each of them has a copy of it. In some cases it might be a good idea to have a copy of the Will placed with a business manager or friend you trust. This would be an excellent idea if the heir is a child or teenager or lives in another country.

The 3 Most Baffling Things About Georgia Child Visitation

Posted on: May 18th, 2013

Understanding Georgia child visitation is a full time job. Luckily our Georgia child visitation attorneys are knowledgeable about all the ins and outs, so you don’t have to be. Here’s a list of the top 3 most baffling things about Georgia child visitation that you should know, even though you don’t have to be an expert. You can leave that to us.

“The Best Interests of the Child”. This is the phrase that dominates discussion around child visitation laws in Georgia. Considering that it is the standard used by the court to determine Georgia child visitation, you’d think it would be very clear cut as to what that phrase actually means. However, as with most things concerning the law, it tends to be the opposite of clear cut. Many factors are weighed and considered when it comes to determining the best interests of the child. This is why it’s so crucial to have an experienced Georgia child visitation attorney on your side, to make sure that what you have to bring to the table in terms of protecting and ensuring “the best interests of the child” in question are fairly represented.

Child support/Alimony not factors. You would think that there would be a tight inter-relationship between child support, alimony, and child visitation in Georgia. But the baffling thing is that it isn’t. In Georgia, child visitation does not hinge upon either alimony or child support payments. Though it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, a custodial parent can’t legally withhold child visitation in Georgia simply because the non-custodial parent has not paid up all of the child support and/or alimony they should. This baffling area of Georgia child visitation law alone requires the assistance of a practiced lawyer.

The importance of the parenting plan. Georgia child visitation places a great amount of importance on a parenting plan, which is a document detailing the particulars of child visitation. It often includes details such as travel arrangements, when visitation will take place, and if supervision is necessary. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Except when one or both parties deviate from the plan. Then it’s not so clear whether “the best interests of the child” are still front and center.

To navigate the rough and confusing waters of Georgia child visitation, simply contact one of our experienced attorneys for a consultation. Fill out the form on this page, call us at 404-844-2856, or send us an email at