Congratulations to our attorney Alyssa Blanchard for being announced in the 2017-18 class of Leadership Cobb. This recognition is focused on personal and professional growth through awareness, community resources and the social, political and economic needs of the community
As club president of the Kiwanis Club of Marietta (GA), our attorney Justin O’Dell honored Alice Summerour with a Ruby K90 Award for her dedication to the growth of the membership roster.
Every year we invite the public to join us in watching the 4th of July Parade. Our office is located in the heart of downtown Marietta, an ideal spot to watch the parade. We also had complementary biscuits, snow cones, parking and beverages for everyone to enjoy. This year attorney Justin O’Dell handed out biscuits to trolley riders and drivers as they came by during the parade. We had a great crowd for 2017 and can’t wait to host again next year!
Hollywood has been stunned by the sudden split of one its golden couples, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. It was announced in September that the couple is divorcing after a lengthy and high profile relationship spanning more than ten years. They share six children together – 3 of whom are adopted – and they have a vast estate that includes a Chateau in the South of France with a working winery. However, unlike many high profile splits, it is not the asset division that has become the biggest source of contention in this saga, but rather custody and visitation rights over their six children.
In a twist that would rival any Hollywood script, it was revealed shortly after Jolie’s divorce filing that the L.A. Department of Child and Family Services (“DCFS”) was investigating Pitt for becoming physically confrontational with the couple’s oldest son Maddox on an international flight aboard a private plane. As a result, it has been widely reported that Pitt’s initial reintroduction and visitation with his children has been supervised by a third party based on temporary recommendation from DCFS.
Supervised visits are generally imposed by Courts in Georgia when there is a potential risk of an unsafe and/or unhealthy environment for the children involved. This tool is also used when an investigation is being made into allegations of abuse or inappropriate behavior. Until the investigation is complete and a determination can be made regarding the validity of the allegations, a judge may impose supervised visitation out of an abundance of caution. This ensures the protection of the children if the allegations are later validated, but also ensures continuing contact between the children and that particular parent. This is likely what is occurring in Pitt’s case, as it has been reported that all parties are awaiting the results of the DFCS investigation before moving forward with a more permanent visitation schedule.
Supervised visitation services in Georgia generally come at a steep price. They generally run at about $50 per hour, plus an added fee for the supervisor to prepare a written report at the conclusion of the visit. In addition to the cost, both parents must fill out forms in advance of the visits and follow-strict guidelines during the visit. However, despite the cost and strict guidelines, supervision services often place a particular emphasis on keeping the visits as natural as possible for the child. The following provides more detailed information for supervised visitation services offered in Georgia and other states: http://www.svnetwork.net/. Thankfully for Pitt, he can easily afford any cost associated with supervised visits with his children, though the affordability probably doesn’t ease the sting of the negative stigma.
So Dick and Jane got divorced. Jane has the kids on a primary basis with Dick having visitation. Before they each settle back into their own lives, each one of them has some important “I’s” to dot and “T’s” to cross related to their respective estates.
First and foremost, Dick and Jane should each immediately update their life insurance policies, 401k policies, IRA policies and any other benefits or plans wherein a beneficiary has been named. Their divorce may require them to name each other as the beneficiary (or a trustee beneficiary for the children) for a certain amount. If so, that provision should be followed. However, all other policies and accounts need to be immediately updated. If, for example, Dick were to die and Jane was still listed as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or IRA, the policy or account is going to pay out to her.
The second thing each needs to do is update their Wills. In the instance where a party has a Will executed while married, but then gets divorced, the Will is not revoked. However, the spouse is treated as predeceasing the maker of the Will. This is a safety net for the parties in the event that they do not update their Wills and avoids the draconian consequences seen with life insurance and the like, but the situation is still rife with potential problems. First of all, the Wills created as a married couple probably created a Guardian for the children and a person to serve as Trustee over any money left to the children. Either person may wish to revisit that decision. If the parties had named Jane’s sister while married, Dick may want to change Trustees of money he leaves to the children to someone from his own family. As for the Guardian, the opposite spouse would be the presumptive guardian of the children if one of them died. However, when that second spouse died, the Court would make a decision based on the person appointed in that spouse’s Will. It is imperative that each side make an expression as to whom they would wish to have in that role.
Thirdly, both spouses need to make a note about their tax status and future filings. The parties have probably been filing joint returns. Now as separate tax filers, they are no longer both benefitting from certain deductions. One spouse may be able to file head of household, one may have the dependency exemptions over the children and one of them may have the mortgage interest deductions. If one is paying alimony to the other, it may be tax deductible to the payor and taxable to the payee. Both Dick and Jane may want to speak with their CPA and tax preparer to review their withholding status and also to plan to set money aside for future taxes.
Lastly, Dick and Jane may want to start a diary or journal of the various dates, deadlines and obligations arising under the decree. It might be beneficial to keep a calendar regarding the dates visitation and parenting time is exercised and the dates when it is swapped. Each side may wish to keep a log of any disputes and of the other parties’ attendance at the children’s events, activities, conferences and the like. Often times parties will act like this sort of journaling is unnecessary under the belief that “We are getting along and working together, so I don’t need to arm myself for future court.” Those parties are well-served to remember that the couple also exchanged wedding vows which contained a host of promises and commitments, yet wound up in a divorce. Life changes and situations certainly present themselves which neither party anticipated. It is better to be ready than to be caught off-guard and guessing.
One can proceed with a divorce action in one of two ways: 1) contested or 2) uncontested. In a contested action parties come to the court with most if not all of the issues unresolved. In an uncontested action, parties have resolved all issues and come to the court to have the divorced finalized based on the agreement the two parties have reached.
Ideally an uncontested divorce will proceed in the following manner: 1) One files the Summons and Complaint for Divorce; 2) One’s spouse acknowledges service of the Summons and Complaint; 3) One’s agreement is reduced to writing and executed by both parties; 4) a final uncontested hearing is scheduled; and, 5) Parties attend the hearing and obtain the Final Judgement and Decree of Divorce. A Summons, Complaint, Acknowledgement and Agreement may also be filed at the same time.
The key to the uncontested divorce is the Agreement. If both spouses have already discussed the terms of settlement and are in agreement as to what those terms are, the divorce proceed uncontested. The agreement should address all issues of division of property (both real and personal), assets, alimony and if the parties have children the agreement should also address custody and child support.
Keep in mind that the terms of an agreement will be unique to the parties’ particular circumstances. When proceeding uncontested, remember that it is important that each party knows exactly what his or her rights are so that the agreement is fair and parties are protected.
The Probate Court is not just for estates. It is also the place to go to get a weapons carry license. In order to obtain a weapons carry license there are a few requirements you must meet: you must 1) be at least 21 years old (or over the age of 18 and an active duty service member), 2) submit to a criminal background check, 3) be photographed & fingerprinted, and 4) pay the requisite fee ($77.50 for Cobb County).
There are some restrictions to own can obtain a weapons carry license. O.C.G.A. §16-11-129, provides a list of individuals who are prohibited from receiving a weapons carry license including, but not limited to, individuals convicted of a felony, individuals who are mentally incompetent, illegal aliens or undocumented citizens, individuals who have been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces, or individuals who are unlawful users of or addicted to any controlled substance.
The weapons carry license permits an individual to carry a handgun and is valid for five years. Georgia law additionally allows a person licensed to carry a handgun or weapon in another state whose laws recognize and give effect to a Georgia weapons carry license to carry a handgun in Georgia, but only while the licensee is not a resident of Georgia. Even with a weapons carry license there are certain places that are off-limits, including schools, airports, courthouses, jails/prisons, churches or places of worship, and within 150 feet of any polling place when elections are being conducted.
For more information regarding concealed weapons permits, contact the Cobb County Probate Court.