At Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC, our Atlanta divorce lawyers often deal with child custody issues. Whether through divorce or adoption, the welfare of children is a top priority for us. That’s why we took interest in the recent child custody battle that took place between rapper Ludacris and the mother of his child, Tameka Fuller.
Ludacris was awarded full custody of 13-month old daughter, Cai Bella, on January 28 after an ugly court battle. One of the most damaging parts of the testimony came from Fuller when she reportedly accused Ludacris of not wanting Fuller to have the child. She reportedly claimed that the rapper offered her $10,000 to have an abortion.
Whether true or not, this would not mean he was a less fit parent. It does mean, however, that when the child is old enough to do her own research, she might inevitably read this statement and feel the pain that comes with wondering if a parent that you love ever wanted you gone.
Take away: It’s very important to remember that during a heated child custody battle, short-term thinking may help your immediate cause, but could potentially leave a ripple effect that will follow you or your children for years to come. Always think of the best interest of your children first.
In our Atlanta divorce practice, we work very hard to help each client get a fair settlement when they are going through a divorce. Our attorneys try to negotiate in a way where all parties feel like it was a win-win for everyone. Unfortunately, we often see a common problem that stands in the way of a quick and equitable settlement: fairness.
When one partner feels that an injustice has taken place, there is a tendency to want to make the other person “pay” for the wrong that is felt. This is called “equity theory” – the way that we feel satisfaction based on how we perceive the overall fairness (or unfairness) of the way that our shared resources are divided.
If one spouse works full time and the other partner stays home to be a full time parent, this can be looked at as unfair by both sides. The working partner might feel that they have had to “work” while the other partner “got to stay home and do nothing.” The stay-at-home parent might feel unfairness because the working partner got to advance in their career while they themselves lost career opportunities.
Often, the feelings of unfairness manifest themselves when a settlement is being negotiated. One partner wants to bring equity to the unfairness that he/she feels by punishing the other in the settlement agreement. This type of emotional rift can translate into lost money in legal fees as the lawyers haggle over things such as who gets a worthless vase – an item that could be purchased many times over by the amount of money being spent to argue over it. Our law practice recognizes the role that emotions can play in a divorce.
When going through a divorce, remember that this can be a costly mistake. Ask yourself if these things that you want to argue over will really be important in a year. When you realize that moving on is the best gift that you can give yourself, go treat yourself to something nice with all of the money you just saved yourself in emotional and legal expenses – you deserve it!
With divorce at an all-time high, some good news about marriage has arrived! This new study, conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, shows that marriage (especially to your best friend) can make your life happier. In our Atlanta family law practice, we think that’s something to celebrate!
Conducted mostly using data from the United Kingdom, the study says that people who are married are “more satisfied” with their lives than their single counterparts. The researchers says that the happiness is magnified especially during the “mid-life dip” when some couples are known to begin to struggle with issues such as career satisfaction, relationships and health.
The study also explores “friendship as a mechanism” and how marriage to someone who started out as a friend could experience benefits of marriage “twice as large” than those who married someone that they met and began a romantic relationship with to start with.
A Gallup World Poll was also used to “show that although the overall well-being effects of marriage appear to vary across cultural contexts, marriage eases the middle-age dip in life evaluations for all regions except Sub-Saharan Africa.” No explanation was given for why this region didn’t share the same results as their global counterparts.
Bottom line? Marry your best friend and reap the benefits!
Arriving at the decision to end a marriage is never easy. As divorce attorneys, we often see people in our Atlanta practice who know they want to end their marriage but may not have thought out some of the most important things to consider before they file. As a service, we offer our top 5 things to consider when you are contemplating a divorce:
1. What are your goals regarding child custody and parenting of your children?
In addition to a consistent parenting plan with similar expectations of behavior for the child (as well as consequences for misbehavior), parents should think about what they want for their children and devise a plan to get there. A “road map” will keep both parents focused on the big picture. Joint custody is increasingly popular and in our Atlanta area (as is the cast with many other metropolitan areas) so the parents need to stay on the same page in order to provide consistency and stability for their children. For more help deciding child custody issues, check out this child custody in Atlanta article.
2. What are your financial goals regarding division of assets, debt and possibly alimony?
We often see people who have allowed their partners to be solely responsible for all aspects of financial management and really have no idea of assets or debts. When this happens, the person who isn’t involved with finances is in a less powerful position when it is time to negotiate settlements. If you are considering a divorce, acquaint yourself with your financial status and think about what it will take for you to live on your own.
3. What steps might you need to take to protect yourself physically from an abusive spouse?
Sometimes, a spouse is physically abusive and uses threats or physical harm to control the other person. Divorce adds a new layer of emotional strain and can cause frustration and volatility. If this happens, do you have a safe place where you (and your children) can go to stay safe? Do you have some emergency cash? Have you checked out emergency shelters and know how to get to them? Are you ready to file for emergency protections with a court? Have a plan in place and be ready to follow through in the event of danger. Need help? Check out the resource list at the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
4. What support system do you have to assist you during this journey?
Despite our best efforts to have an amicable divorce, it can be very emotionally draining. Having healthy relationships with family and friends is a great way to ensure that you have a functioning support system. There are also divorce support groups, both online and in person, to help you transition through this season of your life.
5. What career goals to you have?
When someone has been financially dependent on their spouse, they need to consider what type of career they will have in order to support themselves after a divorce. Often times, this career will require some type of training, certification or degree. Carefully consider your goals and the steps you need to take in order to achieve these goals.
Our Atlanta family law practice understands that divorce is never easy. With these 5 things in mind, carefully consider your options and then call us. Our attorneys are here to help you come up with your own plan. We will work hard to advise you to ensure that you can move to the next chapter of your life with a minimum amount of stress and strife.
As Atlanta divorce lawyers, we handle a variety of divorce cases each year. The reasons are as varied as the types of clients we see, but there are a few main categories that seem to be more common than others. Because we have a family law practice, we thought it might be helpful to examine some of these causes in an upcoming blog series about causes of divorce. We decided to start with infidelity.
According to this study published by the Journal of Family Issues, the leading cause of divorce was infidelity (at a whopping 21.6 %). That was followed by incompatibility (19.2%) and addiction (10.6%). However, some are now challenging the idea that infidelity is as common in marriages as people have been led to believe in the past, a number that many put at nearly 50 percent.
In an article published on PsychCentral.com, psychologist Dr. John M. Grohol proposes that infidelity numbers have been artificially inflated. He said that the statistics are “not based upon any scientific research. It’s something marketing companies just made up and use to scare (or motivate) people into buying into their service.”
Dr. Grohol cites several research studies to conclude that “the actual likelihood of your relationship suffering from cheating is low — probably less than a 6 percent chance.” He goes on to say that “over the course of your entire relationship, the chances of infidelity may rise to as much as 25 percent. Twenty-five percent — over the course of an entire relationship — is a far cry from the 50 percent number we hear from many so-called professionals and services trying to sell you something.”
Dr. Grohol suggests that the factors that add the most risk of infidelity to a marriage are unresolved problems in the marriage, a “significant difference in sex drive between the two partners” and one of the partners having been sexually abused as a child, among other risk factors.
We may never know the true numbers because cheating, by its very nature, is a hidden thing. However, if infidelity has entered your marriage and the trust is irreparably broken and you can’t move forward, our Atlanta divorce lawyers are here to help you through the divorce process.
As partner and head of the Family Law Practice at Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC., I always get asked the sort of questions no one likes to think about, unless they have to think about them.
Child custody is often the most important (and highest intensity) issue for a separating couple. Even if parents agree on which parent should have primary physical custody of the children, they may disagree vehemently on how to arrange the parenting schedule. If the parents are unable to reach an agreement on custody, then it is left to the judge to decide. But how does the judge make that decision?
In Georgia, the decision of awarding child custody is based on the best interest of the children. Bodne v. Bodne, 277 Ga. 445 (2003). The court weighs a variety of factors in determining what is in the children’s best interest. One important factor is history of parenting roles. For example, if one parent was predominantly responsible for day to day child care, while the other parent did relatively little, then the court may decide that it is in the children’s best interest to live with the historic caretaker. Another factor that the court may consider is the work schedule of both parents. For example, if one parent has a set 9-5 schedule while the other works 60 hours a week and travels, it may be in the children’s best interest to live primarily with the parent who is home more often, or otherwise offers a more stable schedule. Yet another factor that a judge could consider is the health (both physical and mental) and stability of each parent.
Same Sex Parenting
Child custody standards are the same for separating same sex parents and unmarried opposite-sex parents as they are for divorcing parents. In all of the above scenarios, the judge will determine custody based on the children’s best interest.
One other important factor for same sex parents is that a parent must be considered the legal parent of a child in order to be awarded custody. What this means is that a parent must either be the biological parent of his or her child, or have adopted that child. If, for example, one parent in a same sex couple had a biological child, and the other parent never adopted that child, then the non-biological parent could not be awarded custody.
Divorce can be a difficult time for everyone involved, but especially for children of all ages. Many children naturally believe that divorce has something to do with an issue they caused, an argument they had or even the time they made one of their parents angry – though that is rarely the case at all. These types of issues can be carried by a child for the rest of their lives, well into adulthood and beyond. By understanding the effects of divorce on children you can better understand the importance of proceeding with caution throughout these times, especially if you have young children in your house.
The Effects of Divorce on Boys
One factor that many people don’t consider is how young boys react to divorce. In a typical divorce proceeding, the wife has a higher chance of being awarded sole custody than the father does. As the father would no longer be living in the same home as the young boy, they would lack a male role model on a daily basis. The absence of that male role model can make it exceedingly difficult for certain young male kids to adjust to divorce at all.
The effects of divorce on children are not necessarily seen immediately. A study in a 2013 issue of the magazine Public Health, for example, cited a study that was conducted at the University of Toronto that indicated that children of divorced families were significantly more likely to begin smoking when they reached adulthood that children who came from stable living situations.
Another one of the ways that divorce can affect children has to do with a build-up of anxiety and the snowball effect that occurs as a result. Children who come from divorced households are statistically more likely to suffer from anxiety and huge amounts of stress than others. As a result, these children are also more likely to fall behind in school in areas like math and on their social skills in general. The snowball effect occurs because many of the subjects the kids are more likely to fall behind on are cumulative. If a young child is doing poorly at rudimentary math early on because they’re stressed out from a divorce, they won’t have the skills required to keep up with their classmates as they advance through grades.
Short Term Effects of Divorce on Children
Not all of the effects of divorce on children become issues in the long term, however. There are a wide variety of different negative attributes that many parents will start to notice immediately. Chief among them are an anger, sadness and general sense of depression that kids will often feel regardless of their age or gender. Likewise, many children feel a strong sense of opposition to authority of all types, impulsivity and even aggression in certain situations.
All of these types of issues compound into a general sense of non-compliance, where the child is constantly at odds with those around them.
Divorce is a very serious situation for everyone involved. It’s important that we remember just how much divorce can affect children, however, and help them cope in any way possible.
by: Jeff Cleghorn
One of the most rewarding benefits of practicing family law is helping clients through some of their most difficult times. Family law, which can encompass divorce, child custody and domestic violence issues, is a particularly emotional and traumatizing time in our client’s lives. I get tremendous satisfaction out of seeking constructive, positive solutions to our client’s needs and devoting myself to helping each of our clients move past their difficult times and onto brighter futures.
Whether I am working with a stay-at-home-mother to achieve financial security in her post-divorce life or helping parents through the difficulty of major custody decisions, it is undeniably rewarding to successfully resolve matters by achieving the best results for our clients as they transition past this emotionally charged point in their lives.
Whether a case is resolved through negotiation, mediation, or litigation, my focal priority is to protect the rights of our clients and achieve the best goals for the client and their family. However, practicing family law requires more than just advocacy; it requires empathy and compassion.
There is nothing more rewarding than taking clients through the stress, eliciting their own confidences to work through this tough period, and working together on achieving the best results for their future. I take tremendous pride in truly understanding the needs of our clients and knowing what is important to each of them.
Only then can I understand the goals of each client and tailor our strategy to achieve the best result for him or her. Successfully resolving a client’s family law matter will likely be among one the most important things they will ever do. Knowing that I not only achieved a great result for the client, but that I helped guide them through a stressful time in their lives is why I enjoy practicing so much.
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ATLANTA — Despite having passed a 2004 constitutional amendment prohibiting Georgia courts from recognizing same-sex marriages, some married gay and lesbian Georgia couples are now finding that Georgia law obligates them to stay married – even after they have ended their romantic relationships.
Since Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex marriages in 2002, many couples in Georgia have traveled to a marriage equality jurisdiction and tied the knot.
Atlanta Same-Sex Marriage Laws
When Georgia’s newly gay married couples return home, however, they face a legal landscape that is stuck in time at 2004.
Not only are these couples denied the legal benefits of marriage, but they are prohibited from using Georgia courts to dissolve their relationship if they separate. Essentially, the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is also forcing some gay and lesbian couples to remain legally married.
“I frequently receive calls from married same-sex couples whose relationships have hit the rocks, asking what they can do. The short answer, in most cases, is not much. Georgia’s courts are prohibited from granting gay divorces, leaving many former same-sex couples in legal limbo.” said Jeff Cleghorn, who manages the family law practice at the law firm of Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC.
The state constitutional amendment outlawing local recognition of same-sex unions, approved by 76 percent of Georgia voters in 2004, has incubated Georgia from the progress that is spreading with increasing speed across much of the nation. There are now 16 jurisdictions, including the very recent additions of New Jersey, Illinois and Hawaii, that allow gay marriage, in addition to 16 foreign countries, including Canada and some Mexican States.
“It seems almost inevitable that Georgia’s gay marriage ban will eventually fall, but perhaps not as soon as gay and lesbian couples would hope,” Cleghorn says. “Until then, married same-sex Georgia couples’ relationships remain uniquely vulnerable under Georgia law.”
Get a Lawyer for Atlanta Gay Marriages
Cleghorn says there are several signs that the national momentum behind same-sex marriage is making headway in Georgia, including a recent Atlanta Journal Constitution poll showing that Georgia voters now approve of same-sex marriage by a 48-43 plurality. Same-sex Georgia couples who were legally married in another state, including active duty military personnel at Georgia’s many bases, are now receiving some significant federal marital benefits. Those benefits include the ability to file joint federal income tax returns, and – for married gay and lesbian Soldiers – access to on-base housing and military medical care.
“Married lesbian and gay couples in Georgia have some, but not all, of the rights of marriage. One right denied to same-sex Georgia couples is to seek a divorce,” Cleghorn said. No matter where they were married or who they work for, all gay and lesbian couples are still denied access to Georgia’s divorce courts. “It’s a bitter irony of the bigotry that inspired Georgia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that the very same law is effectively requiring some same-sex couples to stay married,” Cleghorn says.
In addition to helping LGBT clients find solutions inside and outside of Georgia’s legal system, the family law attorneys at Kitchens New Cleghorn also advise same-sex couples to research the reach and limitations of same-sex marriage in the state in which they will wed.
“Some of the more popular destinations for marriage such as Massachusetts and New York have residency requirements for divorce, which effectively prohibit Georgia couples from accessing those state’s divorce courts” Cleghorn says. “When counseling same-sex couples who are planning to marry, I encourage them to consider marrying in one of the few jurisdictions which will grant a divorce to non-residents, such as California or the District of Columbia.”
If you’re searching for a child custody attorney in Atlanta, you’ve come to the right place. Indeed, after decades of practicing Georgia divorce and custody law, we know that in divorces involving children there is often little else that will matter more than who will have primary custody of the children and how they will be raised. In order to ensure that you and your children are well protected, it is essential that you have professional, experienced legal counsel on your side.
The divorce attorneys at Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC are sensitive to how important an issue this can be, and offer decades of experience keeping families intact. We bring expert knowledge of Georgia family law to the table, and the experience of how to best represent your interests to the court. Importantly, child custody laws in Georgia are designed to keep “the best interests of the child” in mind, but that term is inherently subjective and entirely dependent upon the facts presented. Let the lawyers at Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC work to ensure that what the court defines as your child’s “best interest” is what you seek as well.
What Are “The Best Interests of the Child” as Defined by GA Family Law?
When determining what is in the best interest of a child, Georgia custody law allows a court a large degree of discretion, and a judge can consider many different factors. Some of those factors include:
A child’s age and desires
Parental criminal history
Ability of the parent to care for the child
and more. A court will use these factors to decide where your children should spend most of their time.
What Types Of Custody Exist Under Georgia Law?
Custody laws in Georgia provide for a variety of options. Those include:
Joint Custody: This falls into two subcategories:
Joint legal custody, in which both parents have the right to contribute to major decisions regarding their children
Joint physical custody, in which the child or children split time living with both parents
Sole Custody: This also falls into two subcategories:
Sole legal custody, in which one parent has the authority to make major decisions regarding their children
Sole physical custody, in which the child or children lives with one parent
Our child custody Attorney in Atlanta will work closely with you to review all the details of your case in determining whether petitioning for joint physical, joint legal, or sole legal/physical custody is right for you and your children. You can also read more about different types of custody arrangement in Georgia in our Infocenter at https://www.knclawfirm.com/practice-areas/family-law/child-custody/.
*Note that your child support payment schedule will rely heavily on your custody schedule.
Georgia Custody Schedules as Explained by our Child Custody Attorneys
A custody schedule in Georgia can be as simple or as complex as needed to fit your particular circumstances. Schedules can involve mid-week visits, alternating weekends, and more. Questions such as who will have the children for holidays and birthdays will also have to be resolved. Because your custody schedule will determine how you and your spouse will split time spent with your children for years to come, it’s important that it is crafted with care and expertise. Without the proper legal guidance, one can quickly miss out on valuable time spent with their child. Look to Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC’s experienced custody Attorneys to help you create a comprehensive custody and visitation schedule that meets the requirements of Georgia law and preserves your precious family ties.
Changes to Georgia Child Custody Schedules
Life circumstances don’t always stay the same and neither should your custody schedule. If you move, get a new job, or experience any other lifestyle changes, your previous schedule may no longer be convenient or practical for you or your children. Thankfully, Georgia law allows for the modification of custody schedules. Our Atlanta child custody lawyers can petition the court to modify your schedule in a way that matches your life needs. If a career change, a move, or some other major change means your old schedule is no longer a fit, give us a call right away.
Contact Our Child Custody Attorney in Atlanta
Divorce should never cost you family relationships. Arrange a consultation with one of our skilled divorce attorneys as soon as you begin seeking a divorce. We’ll walk you through the court system and reach a resolution that protects the best interests of you and your children. For a typical contested custody issue, our law firm retainer begins at $5,000.00. 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.
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