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Legal Gay Marriage in Atlanta is Here

Posted on: June 30th, 2015

As of June 26, legal gay marriage in Atlanta is here to stay. Our law firm, who has an almost 15 year track record of supporting the rights of LGBT Georgians, is thrilled. In the past, our lawyers advocated for protections of our gay and lesbian clients in creative ways, given that same-sex Georgia couples were not able to access the same legal privileges that heterosexual married couples were automatically granted. Now that marriage equality is the law of the land and, and the law in Georgia, same-sex couples now have access to the legal protections as have long existed for different sex couples.

Atlanta Lesbian DivorcePrenuptial Agreements may offer some peace of mind. Prenuptial legal counseling is just one of the services that we encourage all couples to seek in advance of their wedding. One of our attorneys will meet with you to assess the types of protections available, and work with you to craft a Prenuptial Agreement that best suits your individual needs. We will prepare a plan to help you protect yourself and your assets before you say your vows.

Gay or straight, marriage involves significant legal rights and responsibilities. Before you prepare for the ceremony, prepare for the life after marriage. Call one of our attorneys to schedule a consultation to ensure that you are armed with all of the important legal knowledge you need to know before linking your life to someone else. Then, walk happily down the aisle with your beloved.


We’ve Always Been an Atlanta LGBT Law Firm

Posted on: June 19th, 2015

Cover PhotoKitchens New Cleghorn, LLC has always been an Atlanta LGBT law firm. That is, we’ve been serving the individual and business legal needs of Atlanta’s LGBT community since 2001. Our lawyers have represented LGBT people and their families inside and outside of courtroom across the State of Georgia, on legal issues as diverse as our clients. Specifically, we have assisted same-sex couples in putting their relationships together, via adoption, domestic partnership agreements, powers of attorney, advance health care directives, and Last Will and Testaments. We have also represented gay and lesbian people in taking their relationships apart, via domestic partnership dissolutions, property division issues, and child custody and support issues.

In recent months, our family law attorneys have assisted many same-sex couples in preparing pre-nuptial agreements, in advance of their traveling to a pro-marriage State to be married. Sadly, we are also now representing some LGBT individuals in their divorce actions, working within the legal system to do what is possible as we await the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, expected any day now.

Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC has represented, pro bono, LGBT clients on behalf of Lambda Legal and Immigration Equality. Specifically, we successfully represented a lesbian mother in retaining her parental rights to her child, and we represented a gay man seeking asylum by fleeing his home in a dangerous, “kill the gays” African country.

Our lawyers have served on Boards of Directors at various LGBT advocacy groups, including Georgia Equality. We also currently serve as pro bono legal counsel for Atlanta PRIDE and the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

One of our partners, Jeff Cleghorn, received HRC’s Dan Bradley Humanitarian Award for his work in helping the LGBT community through his volunteerism in the Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and for helping to pass the repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Our LGBT clients have turning to Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC for almost 15 years to help them secure protections for themselves and their families or their businesses.. We have always been here for the LGBT community and we always will be.


Gay Marriage Purgatory | Atlanta Gay Divorce

Posted on: June 12th, 2015

Atlanta Gay DivorceOur Atlanta firm handles a lot of legal issues for our clients, including divorce. What we are now gearing up for (with the pending U.S. Supreme Court decision about marriage equality) is Atlanta gay divorce. Our office has been receiving a lot of calls from couples living in what we call “gay marriage purgatory”. In fact, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution recently interviewed one of our partners, Jeff Cleghorn, about this topic.

Gay and lesbian couples from Georgia traveled to other states (where same-sex marriage is legal) and were married there. As sometimes happens with marriage, couples decide to part ways and want to divorce. The problem is, Georgia doesn’t recognize their marriages as legal and, therefore, will not grant them divorces.

All states have residency requirements as a condition of using their divorce courts. In other words, the general rule is that a person may get divorced only in the state where they live. For married same-sex couples whose states do not allow them access to their divorce courts (states such as Georgia), it can be frustrating because most people cannot afford to move to a different state simply to be able to get divorced. As a result, married same-sex couples in Georgia are trapped in limbo and have only very expensive (and inconvenient) options for relief.

Our Atlanta law firm has provided personal and business legal services to the gay and lesbian community for over 13 years. We eagerly await a landmark ruling that will soon allow our Atlanta law firm to begin to serve these couples in standard divorces through established channels. If you or someone you know feel trapped in “gay marriage purgatory”, please call our offices to speak with an attorney to better understand your legal options.


Meet Our Legal Assistant, Wanda Melton | Atlanta Divorce Law Firm

Posted on: June 8th, 2015

Atlanta Gay Divorce AttorneyOur Atlanta divorce law firm hires only the most talented and competent individuals. We often get compliments on our attorneys and their superior legal work, but we also get compliments on our amazing support staff. Wanda Melton, our legal assistant, is someone that our clients absolutely LOVE. She is professional, personable and she does an amazing job at supporting our team. We thought it was time that those of you who don’t know her get a chance to meet her.

Wanda, how long have you been at KNC?

Wanda: I’ve been here for 4 years and a week!

Tell us a bit about your family.

I’m the proud “Grammy” of two little girls – ages 2 and 9. They are so much sweeter than their mothers – my daughters!!

Where are you from?

I’m a North Carolina native and still have older family there – East of Raleigh. My parents brought me to GA in 1967 (I was a mere babe.)

Where did you get your education?

I have a degree in Education from Brenau University and a Paralegal Certificate from Clayton State University.

What type of work have you done in the past?

I’ve been an administrative/executive assistant for most of my career. I “retired” as an AT&T employee in 2007. I was officially an AT&T employee for 6 weeks after the AT&T /Bellsouth merger. I was at Bellsouth for a little over 18 years. While there, I worked in Treasury, Accounting, Mergers & Acquisitions and Legal departments.

In the interval between BellSouth and KNC, I worked at Emory University and GulfStream Aerospace in Savannah.

What is the best part about working at KNC?

I really enjoy the interaction with our clients – something I never did at BLS. Also, it’s good to know that we (the team) are really helping folks with difficult problems that greatly impact their lives.

What do you like most about the KNC clients?

I enjoy being able to contribute to the resolution of serious problems. Folks are genuinely grateful for the assistance. That’s a very gratifying thing to experience on a daily basis.

What do you like most about the KNC staff?
I have the utmost respect for the intelligence and capabilities of the attorneys. It’s a pleasure to work with such exemplary people.

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Divorcing? What You Should Know About a Standing Order

Posted on: June 3rd, 2015

gavel-568417_640When we are advising in divorce cases, our Atlanta law firm goes out of our way to make sure that our clients know some of the very basics of divorce. One important issue that comes up in Georgia divorce is something called a “standing order”.

This order, also known as a “mutual restraining order”, automatically goes into effect upon filing for a divorce. It is designed to “restrain” one party from disadvantaging the other by suddenly accumulating “marital” debt (by buying cars, jewelry, etc.), selling off marital assets, or hiding assets from the court.

The courts understand that sometimes doing something out of the ordinary with finances is necessary so it allows for an exception when the other party gives consent. Otherwise, parties should not change (increase) spending habits, remove assets from the home or jurisdiction of the court or to sell marital property without the consent of your spouse.

As a side note to hiding assets, this article by Forbes details the most common ways that spouses hide assets from each other and it’s not what you might think. Undervaluing property, overstating marital debt and fudging actual income and expenses are all ways that someone can cheat their soon to be ex. The best advice is for you to retain legal counsel to assist you in ensuring that all marital assets and liabilities are properly documented.

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6 Things You Should Look For When Choosing A Divorce Attorney

Posted on: May 19th, 2015

Woman Looking Into SunsetBy: Shannon Hames

When I was going through a divorce a few years ago and looking for a divorce attorney, I had no idea what to look for when it came time to choose one. My main concern was my ability to afford the retainer. I chose my lawyer based on his low retainer and I have spent the rest of my time regretting that decision. I now advocate for people (especially women) to do their research and look for these 6 things in a lawyer before hiring one:

  1. EXPERIENCE – What kind of experience does the lawyer have? How much time has he spent before a judge in a courtroom? If not much, he may steer you to settle to avoid arguing in front of a judge. If he lacks in negotiation skills or can’t use knowledge of the law to your advantage, you may end up giving up more than you can afford to lose. Education is not the same thing as experience.
  2. WISDOM – As we progress in life and have experiences, we gain wisdom. We start to pick up on subtleties and that helps us avoid the pitfalls. A wise attorney can use their experience to help steer you away from those pitfalls. Wisdom is a difficult thing to gauge, but look for it nonetheless.
  3. COMPASSION – It’s not always about the money. There are few things worse than a heartless lawyer who lacks compassion. I know because I hired one based on his cheap retainer. After he forgot about my case until the night before, showed up unprepared and made me call friends from the courthouse to testify for me (causing me to lose all of the important things), he then asked the judge to have my ex pay him an additional sum and never returned a call to finish my case.  How do you know if a lawyer has compassion? Find out if he volunteers his time? Does he take indigent cases? Does he have a good online reputation? He may be a member of a legal or social club, but a lawyer with a good heart will be using his legal talents for business as well as for helping those who cannot help themselves.
  4. TOUGHNESS – This is important. There are some lawyers out there who are “bulldogs” and can be very tough. They have a way of intimidating other lawyers and scaring them into settling an issue that could have a different outcome with a tougher lawyer who can give it right back. Find one who knows how to stand strong for you.
  5. KNOWLEDGE OF THE LAW – This cannot be overstated enough. A lawyer who knows the law and keeps up with the changes and understands the importance of continuing education can easily outsmart a lawyer who doesn’t put in the same effort.
  6. KNOWLEDGE OF THE LOCAL COURT / JUDGE – When a lawyer spends time in the courtroom arguing his cases, he gets to know the style and temperament of other lawyers and judges. If you hire a lawyer who doesn’t know your county court or judge, you could be doing yourself a huge disservice.

3 Things Social Media Can Reveal to Damage Your Divorce Case

Posted on: May 8th, 2015
Atlanta Divorce Attorneys

Social Media can negatively impact divorce cases

As the popularity of social media continues to grow, our staff of Atlanta divorce attorneys see things that come out on social media which have an impact in their divorce cases. We usually advise our clients to use caution on social media during a divorce because everything on social media may be discoverable. To give you some ideas about what can be found and used against you, these are 3 things that social media can reveal to damage your divorce case:

  1. Questionable Parenting – Sometimes, parents use social media to teach their children a lesson. This article highlights how parents took to social media to shame their children. It created controversy about parenting and what some feel is a private matter that should be handled quietly at home. Although it may be your parenting style to talk about how you busted and punished your child on social media, certain judges might see it as abusive. Oversharing is another problem that can arise for people; not only in their own life, but also in the lives of their children. Posting embarrassing photos, personal information and generally eliminating any privacy for the child can become an issue in a divorce case.
  2. Affairs – People who post photos and videos of them with a person that they might be dating can be damaging. A court may respond negatively to a person who “flaunts” their new relationship on social media. In addition, documenting a relationship through social media can be used in court to deny spousal support or to demonstrate character (or lack thereof). Your best bet: keep your romantic life off of social media.
  3. Lifestyle – Some lawyers have used the pages a person likes, such as a drug legalization group, to support arguments against someone’s character before a judge. They can also use photos, videos, comments on other people’s pages/blogs and other digital footprints to build or bolster a case against you. Checking in at the Cheetah Lounge at 3am when you are supposed to be at home with the kids may speak volumes to a judge when it comes time to prove that you should not get custody of your children.

Deactivating your social media may be the safest route when it comes to protecting yourself in your divorce case. If you must use social media, do not assume your ex can’t see it due to your privacy settings. Do assume that your spouse and the judge can and will see everything you post. If you keep this in mind, it will help you make good choices about what you should and should not post during your divorce.


Who Can Legally Marry You?

Posted on: April 30th, 2015

Atlanta Law Firm This week, the US Supreme Court heard arguments for marriage equality and our Atlanta law firm is following this issue closely. Kitchens New Cleghorn provides legal services to many same-sex couples, and we fully support the dignity of their relationships. Although a large part of our business is helping some people end their marriages in the easiest way possible, we celebrate marriage and respect it for the special institution that it is. That’s why when one of our friends had pics on social media showing her officiating a wedding in Florida, we got curious about who can be a wedding officiant here in Georgia.

Kitchens New Cleghorn law clerk Burton Peebles researched this issue for us (what the law specifically says about who can act as a marriage officiant in Georgia). Here is what he told us:

“A marriage license may be authorized in Georgia by any Governor; former Governor of Georgia; any judge, including judges of state and federal courts of record in Georgia; city recorders, including recorders outside of their municipality; magistrate judges; ministers; or other persons of any religious society or sect authorized by the rules of such society to perform the marriage ceremony. This provision is interpreted broadly. However, if not a judge, justice of the peace, Governor or former Governor, city recorder, or magistrate, an officiant must have the authority under the rules of any religious society to solemnize a marriage (i.e. a deacon, elder, or ordained minister).”

Our rules are very liberal in comparison with some other states, such as neighboring North Carolina, where some “officiant” certifications obtained online do not satisfy their legal requirements to perform marriages. To ensure your marriage will be legal, be sure that your officiant is legally certified to perform the marriage ceremony.

 


4 Things You Should You Know About Georgia Adoptions | Atlanta Adoption Attorneys

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015

Atlanta Adoption AttorneyIn addition to being Atlanta divorce attorneys, we also have the happy job of being Atlanta adoption attorneys. The absolute joy of helping to create families for Georgia’s children is one of the best parts of our law practice. Because adoption should be encouraged, our lawyers want to educate Georgians on the 4 most common things that people should know before they decide to embark on their adoption journey:

  1. Age is a factor

    You must be 25 years old or older to legally adopt a child in Georgia. Although there are many people younger than this who are mature enough, the law requires this minimum age as a way of mitigating pitfalls from becoming a parent before you are financially and emotionally ready to assume responsibility for a child.

  2. Fiscal responsibility is a must

    The law requires that a person demonstrate a healthy level of responsibility when it comes to managing money. Your financial background will be considered when you apply to adopt a child. Be sure that you have repaired any damaged credit issues and can prove that you are capable of earning an income that can provide for he needs of a child.

  3. Your home will be inspected

    It’s a typical requirement that your home is inspected when you adopt or foster parent a child. You don’t need to have a house like Martha Stewart to pass the inspection, but you do need to demonstrate that the adopted child will have his own room, bed and the normal amenities (electricity, running water, etc.) that one would expect in a safe home.

  4. Character counts

    Obviously, Georgia has a vested interest in placing children with people who have solid character. This includes having friends and family who can speak well of you and your character. It also means that you must have a clean criminal background check.

For more information about the adoption process, you can check out the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services page. If adoption is something that you have been considering, please visit our website and learn more about our adoption services here in Atlanta.

 


What is Family Law? | Atlanta Divorce Lawyers

Posted on: April 8th, 2015

Family LawAll Atlanta divorce lawyers see their share of couples who want to end their marriage. But at Kitchens New Cleghorn, we don’t limit our practice only to divorce. We also practice family law.

Family Law is a term that encompasses a variety of core services. These services include both contested and uncontested divorces, adoption, child support, alimony, marital property and prenuptial agreements. Sometimes, people may have already gotten a divorce but needs change and they may require a modification to a child support agreement. Or perhaps a couple wants to protect their assets before deciding to marry so there will be less to argue over or lose in the event of a divorce in the future.

Because each family is unique, law services should be designed to customize to each different family situation. In addition, a great lawyer knows that it’s important to know what the goals for each family are.  There should never be a “one size fits all” approach to legal care.

Other Atlanta divorce lawyers may also have family law practices. But at Kitchens New Cleghorn, we work with our clients to protect them from unforeseen roadblocks. We also draw upon our experience to help them navigate the complexities of the law in regards to their particular situation. It is a satisfying experience to see the love on the face of a newly adopted child, or the relief on the face of someone who had a positive outcome in a worrisome divorce case. We practice family law because we value new beginnings and enjoy serving others in this way.


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