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Augusta Family Law Blog

Unique factors for military divorces

Military couples who have decided to end their marriage will follow many of the same steps that others would in Georgia. However, a military divorce does involve a few differences. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act is a federal law that applies to all military personnel. This law allows Georgia to treat military retirement pay as property instead of income in a divorce.

Spouses of military personnel who were married for at least 10 years might be able to receive retirement payments directly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. The person in the military must have served for 10 years and the service period must have overlapped with the marriage. Spouses who do not qualify might still get a portion of benefits if included in the divorce agreement. The maximum amount of pension income is 50 percent unless child support is also a factor, in which case an ex-spouse could get up to 65 percent of disposable retirement pay.

Child custody in Georgia

Georgia family court judges carefully consider what is in the best interests of a child when deciding with whom the child will live and which parent will enjoy the ability to make major decisions for the child in regards to his or her educational, religious and health needs. Courts can choose to grant several different types of custody.

Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions on the child's behalf. Judges may grant sole legal custody, in which one makes all decisions without the need to consult with the other, or joint legal custody. In cases in which the court grants sole legal custody, the noncustodial parent will normally still enjoy parenting time with the child. After an order is issued, the court will not change it unless the noncustodial parent is able to prove a material change in circumstances necessitating such a change has occurred.

Military divorces involving pensions

In a military divorce, a Georgia service member's military pension may be divided much like any other retirement account. In accordance with the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act, such an account may be considered to be sole or marital property under state law. The amount of the award, if any, to the other spouse is generally determined by the laws of the state where the divorce takes place.

If there is a 10-year overlap of marriage and military service, the payment of such award would be made directly by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. In some cases, a judge may order direct payments to spouses who were married to a service member for less than 10 years. However, the payment would be made by the party who is in the military as opposed to the DFAS.

Focusing on financial details during divorce negotiations

The stress involved in settlement discussions during a divorce cause some people to make hasty decisions regarding their finances. Residents living in Georgia might be interested in a few tips to consider while negotiating a divorce settlement.

It could be beneficial to consider how much money one must provide for themselves in the short term. Some couples have very valuable assets but are unable to liquidate them quickly. A blend of easy-to-liquidate assets and accounts for long-term investments may work best depending on an individual's needs. Before a divorce finalization, joint liabilities should be paid off, and proof of said payment should be obtained and saved accordingly. If a joint mortgage is not refinanced, a creditor could continue to try to collect any money owed.

Domestic abuse goes beyond physical altercations

In Georgia and other states, domestic violence can be broadly defined as any conflict that goes beyond typical relationship issues. It may take the form of emotional abuse, such as verbal threats, physical abuse, such as hitting or causing other bodily harm, or sexual abuse, such as unwanted touching or intercourse. Often, abusers will use a mixture of these types of abuse.

Signs of domestic violence or abuse typically manifest themselves after a relationship begins. Generally, an abuser comes across as charming or personable in public. However, this person may be abusive in private and take steps to isolate their partner from their friends and family.

What is the difference between a closed or an open adoption?

There are many ways to have a family in our modern world. One way is through adoption, which can be a way to offer a child in need with a loving home. There are two types of adoption -- closed and open. Georgia families that are considering adopting may have questions about both types and just what the advantages and disadvantages of both types can be.

Closed adoptions were, at one time, the prevalent form used in this country. They are still utilized at times and are typical for international adoptions. The adoptive parents may or may not know the biological parents of their child, and related documentation is sealed, physically. The two parties have no contact once the adoption is finalized, and, in some cases, the child is not told he or she is adopted. Contrast that with open adoption, where biological parents are often active in selecting adoptive parents, meet them beforehand and frequently stay in contact after the adoption is finalized.

Paternity rights for Georgia fathers involves legitimation

When parents in Georgia are not married and a custody case hangs in the balance, women are often given preference for raising children over the fathers. There are also cases where a man is uncertain as to whether he is the father of a particular child. In either situation, the determination of paternity will have an impact on a child custody case. Legitimation is the way for fathers to legally declare their parental rights to their children.

A man who has fathered a child with a woman he isn’t in a relationship with may wish to have custody of his child for many reasons. In the state of Georgia, legitimation offers fathers the chance to raise their children, either by granting them visitation or custody. Being listed as the father on the baby’s birth certificate isn’t enough -- legitimation must be completed. Here at Debra Bryan LLC, our team has helped numerous people through this process, and our experience can make the process as efficient as possible.

Accusations of domestic violence: how to recognize violence

When someone is in an abusive relationship, he or she may not even realize it. Similarly, families whose loved ones are being hurt by a partner may not know precisely how domestic violence is defined. Accusations of domestic violence here in Georgia are serious and need to be handled with care and regard for everyone involved, particularly the person who is subject to the abuse or children who may witness it. Knowing what it is and how to recognize it may be the first step to getting someone the help he or she needs.

Domestic violence involves abusive or violent behavior on the part of one family member or person in a home directed at another. It can include child abuse and involves any type of partnership, such as a married couple, cohabiting partners or even people who are only defined as dating. The abuse can be physical, psychological, sexual, emotional or even economic, if one partner is manipulating finances to make the other person reliant on them.

Support modifications may help Georgia parents keep license

When parents who do not live together have to make choices on how they will care for their children, it often involves child support payments. Typically, the primary caregiver receives payment from the noncustodial parent. Most of these parents want nothing but the best care for their children, but some of them may struggle to make their payments and might require support modifications that make it easier for them to do the right thing for their kids. Some parents deliberately do not make timely, court-ordered support payments, and until recently, the main recourse was incarceration, typically preventing the parent from having any ability to pay and negatively affecting the care the child may need. Now, those parents may risk losing their driver's licenses.

The State Department of Human Services has partnered with the Georgia Department of Driver Services in an effort to get people to pay their overdue child support. The two organizations now have the technology to connect their databases and can determine who is behind on their payments. They have the potential to suspend the driver's licenses of those parents who are not up to date on their child support.

Understanding divorce and family law

Family law is often thought to only include issues that Augusta, Georgia, residents would face in divorce proceedings. Individuals seeking help with adoption or surrogacy agreements, for example, may find that the matters that concern them the most are just some of the areas covered under family law. However, the most common matter involving family law surrounds divorce, which can include anything from property division to child custody.

The process of obtaining a divorce is likely to be different for each couple. There are two types of divorces that couples face when they decide to end their union. An uncontested divorce will reportedly take less time to finalize than a contested divorce because couples seeking an uncontested divorce have come to an agreement on their issues. Contested divorces take longer because the parties may have unresolved issues such as child custody disputes or property division conflicts. Between the two types, uncontested divorces are reportedly less expensive than contested divorces.

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