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Augusta GA Family Law Blog

Property division can be a costly undertaking

In Georgia and elsewhere, divorce proceedings can be contentious. This can be especially true when it comes to the division of property and assets. The more property and assets that are involved, the more complicated property division can become. Take, for example, the recent story of the divorcing couple who jointly owned an original Picasso.

The couple had agreed with a coin toss that the wife could keep the Picasso. The husband had also indicated in an email that she should take any furniture and art that she wanted. The wife is also an accomplished artist and, without her then husband's knowledge, she had already replaced the Picasso with a copy that she herself had painted. The original may sell for as much as $35 million. The husband claims the wife stole the painting.

The opioid crisis and child custody

It is hard to find anyone in the United States that the opioid epidemic has not in some way touched. Sadly, the epidemic continues to grow in Georgia as the death toll mounts. Among the biggest losers of the epidemic are the children born of addicted mothers. But there is hope. Some of these mothers are inspired by their children to seek and maintain recovery through child custody.

Children born of addicted mothers are frequently removed from their care and placed in foster care. One mother did not see her daughter for the entire first year of the child's life and was afraid the baby girl would not know her. But when the mother was allowed to see her, after a prolonged period of sobriety, the child smiled and opened her arms. The mother's response was a vow to fight to regain custody of her daughter.

Georgia's new plan to help with child support

Child custody and child support can be two of the most stressful factors in the outcome of a divorce. Living up to child support commitments can place additional strain on an already stressful situation. The courts in Georgia are trying to alleviate some of that stress through the creation of what they call Parental Accountability Court.

Under this new program, a court employee works with parents who may be behind on their child support payments rather than jailing them for failure to pay. This help can consist of helping with job searches and ensuring that amounts owed in child support are paid. The assistance can last from 12 to 18 months and is intended to attempt to reduce the number of parents serving jail time for failure to pay child support commitments.

Child custody: What to do when modifications are required

One of the biggest challenges divorced couples in Georgia can face is determining who will have custody of the children. It is difficult enough when both parents reside in the same geographical area. But what happens when one parent needs to relocate for a job, or to care for ailing or elderly parents, or for some other unforeseen reason? In this instance, modifications will need to be made to the existing child custody agreement.

In a recent case, a custodial father requested a modification to allow him and his child to relocate to another state. In this instance, the court considered if the move would be in the best interest of the child. The court assessed whether the move provided a significant improvement in the economic, emotional and educational situation for the child. The court ruled in favor of the father and the custody order was modified to allow the mother six weeks with her child in the summer.

Finances and divorce after 50

The rates at which couples dissolve their marriages in the United States have been on the decline in recent years. However, there is one age group for whom this does not hold true. For those over 50, the divorce rate has doubled since the 1990s. Though it clearly impacts both men and women in Georgia, one area affecting women more than men, particularly women over 50, is the area of finances.

While gender roles are changing in all areas of their lives, there is still a tendency on the part of women to allow men to handle long-term investment decisions. In many instances, women leave this task entirely to their partners, and they are usually not fully aware of the couple's financial situation. If such a couple decides to divorce, it can benefit both parties to be familiar with all aspects of their finances.

Alimony, divorce and the new tax law

While many locations have seen a drop in the divorce rate recently, 2018 may prove to be the exception. With the changes to alimony created by the new tax law, people who may be contemplating a divorce in Georgia may decide to follow through with the idea. The new law changes how alimony is treated for tax purposes.

Under the old law, the person paying alimony was able to deduct that amount from his or her tax liability. The person receiving the alimony paid taxes on it as income. The person receiving the alimony may be taxed at a lower rate. Under the new law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019, the person paying the alimony will no longer be able to deduct it and will have to pay taxes on the income. The person receiving alimony will not have to pay taxes on that amount.

Child custody and unmarried parents

When a child loses his or her parents the resulting trauma can be devastating to everyone involved. If the deceased couple were married and the parents of the surviving children, child custody of the children will often go to a surviving family member who is able to care for them. But what if the parents were not married and there is another parent in the picture from a previous relationship? Such is the child custody case of a gentleman in Columbus, Georgia.

The couple were in a previous relationship and had a son. The father of the boy has custody. His ex-girlfriend and her current partner died tragically, and she left behind a baby boy. The gentleman from Columbus is suing for custody of the baby in order to keep the two brothers together. He is supported in his suit by the woman's sister who feels the boys should be kept together, and she recently launched a petition on Facebook in a bid to curry favor with the court.

Child custody and sports

When parents share custody of their children, it would be logical to assume that they share the same concern for their children's well-being and will make decisions based on the best interests of the children. But what if they disagree in Georgia? What if one parent sees participation in a sport as being too dangerous and the other parent does not share the same concern in a child custody case?

In a recent case, a child wished to play high school football. The father was concerned because the son had already had three concussions and was concerned about the long-term health implications of multiple concussions. The mother contended that the son was old enough to understand the risks and make his own decision.

Child custody in 2018 -- no more one size fits all

Once upon a time, if parents divorced, parents would live in separate places and the children would go back and forth between the two homes according to a pre-arranged schedule. This could cause many stressors in the new family dynamic in Georgia. The stressors could include one parent, usually the mother, getting more time with the children, one parent having more influence on the children, and the children being caught in the middle. Child custody in 2018 can look very different.

While two separate homes may still exist, there are many variations of child custody. Parents may remain living in the home but in separate spaces. They may take turns staying in the house so the children are always in one place while the parents go back and forth. Whatever the arrangement, the welfare of the children is often being considered first.

Adoption in Georgia just got easier

Adopting a child can be the beginning of a wonderful new life for the child and his or her new family. The Georgia legislature just passed a bill that should make adopting a child in Georgia easier. Until now, there were so many barriers to adoption that many couples went out of state to adopt. With the simplification of the law, that may no longer be an issue.

There are many changes and improvements in the new law. The wait times have been reduced, and expecting mothers in private adoptions can be reimbursed for their expenses. Furthermore, middlemen who profited in the past from arranging adoptions have been banned. In the event that a couple does want to adopt out of state, that process has been simplified.

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