Atlanta Legal Issues Blog

Child custody given to grandparents as drug addictions rage on

Grandparents have been gearing up for another round of child rearing as the opioid epidemic rages on across the country. At a time when many may be planning on winding down and preparing for retirement bliss, a large number of grandparents find themselves in the middle of child custody cases. In Georgia and in other states, studies show that children adjust better under the care of grandparents than in foster homes.

About 2.7 million grandparents across the country are assuming the role of caregiver because their children are battling opioid addiction. They are trading in their retirement plans for PTA meetings, carpools and diaper changes. The abrupt change in lifestyle and taking on the responsibility of caring for young children is a rude awakening for some grandparents. Financial and emotional challenges can be devastating and overwhelming for them as well, especially those with disabilities.

Filing joint taxes may be the best option during a divorce

Even though a martial break up is forthcoming in the near future, couples who are still legally married may continue to file joint tax returns. There are several factors to consider whether this is the best option for those who are soon to be divorced. In Georgia and other states, couples in the process of a divorce but who are still married at the end of the year may file together.

Filing tax returns separately or individually can mean losing out on substantial deductions and tax credits reserved for married or joint filers. Single filers may not be eligible for credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. Those who file separate returns could face higher tax rates and will face cuts to the Alternative Minimum Tax than those who file joint returns.

Fathers' rights group offers support in custody battles

Parents involved in tedious and difficult custody battles rarely have the support they need to see them through the legal process. Fathers in Georgia are making it their mission to see that others are educated about their parental rights. Fighting for Fathers, a fathers' rights group founded in 2010, focuses on paternal rights, custody agreement preparations and paternal reform to help fathers become more prepared to fight for the custody of their children.

The group stresses the importance of having support to navigate the legal system along with emotional backing throughout the often long and drawn-out process. FFF also focuses on mentoring fathers who are not only trying to obtain custody of their children but are working to become better parents. The organization uses social media to connect with other fathers in order to share experiences and offer support.

Airline miles are considered marital assets in property division

Even though divorce rates have declined, 40 to 50 percent of couples wind up in divorce court. A staggering 73 percent of Americans believe that divorce is acceptable. Divorce signifies the separation of a household and the end of a union, but it also means the separation of assets and property division. In Georgia and other states, airline miles may be marital assets during a divorce.

Marriages that are headed for divorce may have to split airline miles along with other marital assets. If a couple earned miles or reward points during their marriage, then those rewards may be considered marital property. Distribution of miles in a community property state would be split evenly, but in an equitable distribution state, the courts would decide what a fair division would be.

High-asset divorces: Negotiate out of court

It's hard to divorce no matter what your position, but it's particularly difficult when you have a lot to lose. When you're in a high-asset marriage, that makes for a high-asset divorce. It's possible that you could lose much of what you've built up during your marriage, but there are ways to protect yourself.

If you didn't have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, negotiating is going to be one of the best ways to protect your assets. There are several ways to divide assets through negotiations between your attorneys, through mediation or by going to arbitration sessions. If you do not come up with a solution among yourselves, then the court will make a decision for you.

In the event of a divorce, cancel joint credit accounts

Ending a relationship may be easier than splitting finances. Owning joint credit cards with a soon-to-be ex can have devastating results if one party does not take responsibility for unpaid balances. In Georgia and other states, a divorce decree does not excuse one from making payments on credit card accounts.

To keep credit scores from taking a direct hit from a slow-paying ex, one should sign up for an account monitoring program that is designed to track payments. If the ex-spouse is not cooperative about making timely payments, the other party can ask the judge to allocate settlement funds to pay off joint cards. Another option would be for the spouse to open an account in his or her name to transfer outstanding balances. This way the ex-spouse takes responsibility for his or her portion of the marital debt and prevents any further impact on credit scores.

Lawmakers encourage shared parenting with new child custody bills

The every-other-weekend dad may be a thing of the past as lawmakers work to speed up a new trend toward co-parenting. Over 20 states are considering bills that would encourage shared parenting even when parents cannot agree. In Georgia and other states, new shared-parenting bills could be a game changer for child custody battles.

Several states have already considered laws making equal parenting and joint physical custody the standard in child custody agreements. Many agree that equal parenting time should be the initial starting point for custody decisions. The legal push for new arrangements comes from the lobbying of fathers' rights advocates who feel discriminated against when it comes to parenting their children.

Tax overhaul will affect deductions for divorce payments

The tax overhaul put in place by Congress is set to reach out and touch every aspect of American life, including divorce and alimony. The 75-year-old standing tax deduction for alimony will disappear beginning in 2019, and the new legislation was recently signed into law. In Georgia and all other states, the new ruling will not affect those who begin divorce proceedings or have signed separation papers before 2019. 

Experts agree that divorce negotiations will be more stringent and may lead to less spousal support. Divorces started after Jan. 1, 2019, will no longer be eligible for a tax deduction under the new law, and the recipient of the payments will no longer be required to pay taxes on it. Under the current tax law, the deduction allows for more money to be divided between spouses, empowering them to live independently.

Shifting attitudes in parental rights

In August, several months after being abducted by his mother, a boy and his father were reunited. The story was dramatic and had a happy end; however, inside that story is an example of the evolution in how we award custody

The struggle to locate and return the child to his father has implications beyond one family in Georgia. Statistics show that when it comes to single-parent homes, generally speaking, that parent is usually a mother. In an increasing proportion of single-parent homes, that reality is shifting.

Do Georgia courts favor mothers in child custody cases?

Fathers in the midst of a divorce may be concerned about their access to their children and their ability to obtain child custody. The assumption many people have is that mothers are best suited to care for a child.

Does this assumption impact the way courts determine which parent gains custody? Thankfully in Georgia, the answer is no.

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