DICK & JANE “Divorce: Discovery – Part II” by Justin O’Dell

As we continue to look at Dick and Jane and the topic of divorce, recall that the process is underway and we have moved past the temporary hearing into the discovery phase. Our last article looked at discovery goals from Jane’s standpoint. For this month, we look at the process from Dick’s perspective.

No doubt, the first issue for Dick will be addressing the issue of his affair. We have analyzed Jane’s ability to question Dick about the affair and his use of privilege to limit the amount of discovery to be had. In response, Dick will probably throw out a few questions about extra-marital conduct toward Jane. It is surprising to many people to see what the other person may or may not reveal. In the end, the affair discussion may create emotion and grab attention, but ultimately conduct by either spouse is probably not going to have an overwhelming impact on the outcome, unless one party can establish a negative effect on the children or the diversion of marital money in furtherance of the misconduct. Still, the existence of the adultery and the desire to keep it out of the public realm can be a strong source of motivation to reach a settlement.

Dick’s primary concern is going to be on his company and the valuation issue. Since he is in control of the corporate information, he is going to have the advantage in working through the valuation process. It will be important that Dick provide thorough and responsive discovery to Jane’s attorney and expert. Although there is an overwhelming temptation to hide issues related to the company, they are usually exposed and more financially painful in the long term. Quite often, Dick can have his financial valuation expert work cooperatively with Jane’s financial valuation expert in order to educate and correct erroneous assumptions.

Lastly, Dick’s discovery of Jane will need to focus on her employability and future goals. As the Court approaches the issue of alimony, most Judges are going to expect that Jane has a plan for the future. If Jane is sitting back with an attitude that she does not need/expect/plan to get any form of employment, she is going to be penalized. Dick will need to discover Jane’s efforts to obtain employment, job prospects, interviews and the like. He can then use this information in response to her alimony case.

Next month, we will look at the mediation process and what happens at a Court ordered settlement conference with an expert mediator.

Khloe and Lamar: It’s Complicated. by Leslie O’Neal

The Kardashian clan just can’t seem to stay out of the headlines these days (not that they are trying….). But this Fall has been especially difficult for the media-loving family.  On October 13, 2015, Khloe’s estranged husband, Lamar Odom was found unconscious at a brothel in Nevada and rushed to a Las Vegas hospital.  He was placed in a medically-induced coma for several days after opiates and cocaine were found in his system.  The news of his condition was grim at first, and Khloe and her crew immediately rushed to his side.

What was revealed a short time later was that despite having separated over two years ago, Khloe and Lamar are still legally married.   Khloe originally filed for divorce in December of 2013.  For the first year of the divorce process, US Weekly reported that things remained unresolved because Khloe was unable to even track Lamar down to get him to sign anything.  He was reportedly still hoping for reconciliation at the time, despite that Khloe had begun seeing other people – then rapper French Montana and now NBA star James Harden.  It was later reported that Khloe and Lamar signed a tentative settlement agreement this past summer, though an official divorce decree had never been entered by a judge and the case was still pending.  Lamar’s sudden and critical medical condition, coupled with their still married status, placed Khloe in the unexpected position of being charged with making medical decisions on Lamar’s behalf.  Similarly in Georgia, if one spouse designates the other on his/her Healthcare Directives form without modifying it, that designation will remain even if a divorce case is pending.

Because recent reports show that Lamar is slowing improving, it seems that the estranged couple avoided an even bigger legal challenge, which is what happens when one party passes away unexpectedly during a divorce proceeding.   Even if a divorce case is pending, the death of one party terminates the divorce proceeding instantly because there is no longer a marriage to dissolve.  This can be a significant game changer in terms of asset division, particularly if there are assets solely titled in the name of the deceased spouse.  Suddenly the assets in deceased party’s name are governed not by equitable division principles under divorce law – which would presumably allow the surviving spouse to receive half of the assets – but rather by the terms of the Last Will & Testament of the deceased spouse.  So if the deceased spouse modified his or her will to leave out the other party, or had never included the other party in his/her Will at all, the surviving spouse would not receive any of the asset that he/she would’ve previously been entitled to under the divorce case.  That spouse would have to Petition the Probate Court for support from the decedent’s Estate.

Thankfully for Lamar and Khloe, their situation looks to be on the mend.  Lamar’s medical condition is reportedly improving, and the couple are reconciling – at least from a legal standpoint that is.  On October 21, 2015 Khloe formally dismissed her divorce petition, leaving the couple right back where they started.  Hopefully for these two, they can work through the complications and patch things up in more ways than one.

 

Sunshine Cures All Things

Wise words by Justin O’Dell in May 2013 proved to be true a year later as Awtrey Middle School Principal, Jeff Crawford, was cleared of accusations regarding an alleged failure to report. The alleged incident was said to have occurred in February  2013 and Mr. Crawford was notified on March 1, 2013 of a suspension by the CCSD. It took more than a year, but diligent efforts by O’Dell & O’Neal led to all charges being dropped and a letter of dismissal from the Professional Standards Commission. Justin O’Dell is committed to obtaining a positive outcome for educators who find themselves in the midst of disciplinary actions from the school board. He works tirelessly to preserve the employment goals  and professional reputation of educators who have devoted themselves to serving the needs of students. The following news articles were published as this case progressed:

04.08.2013.MDJ.crawford

2013.04.09.MDJ article Solicitor – Charges against former Kell Principal lacked evidence

2013.04.11.mdj.opinion.crawford

2013.04.16.Commentary Crawford

2013.04.16.op ed crawford 2013.04.20.crawford around town

2013.04.23.mdj.crawford.around town 2013.04.27.mdj.yarborogh on crawford 2013.05.02.mdj crawford dismissal

2013.05.03.mdj.crawford.mckee article 2013.05.04.crawford.yarborough

2013.05.08.mdj.crawford.opinion

2013.05.11.mdj.around town 2013.05.11.mdj.finlayson

2013.05.15.mdj.morrissey

2013.05.28.AJC

2013.07.26.mdj.discipline policy

Justin O’Dell Selected Again by Georgia Super Lawyers

Justin at podiumJustin O’Dell has been selected again by Georgia Super Lawyers as a Rising Star for 2014! While up to 5 percent of the practicing lawyers in our state are named to Super Lawyers, no more than 2.5 percent of those are named as Rising Stars.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a rigorous multi-­‐phased process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area.

The Rising Stars lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers magazines and in leading city and regional magazines across the country. For more information about Super Lawyers, go to superlawyers.com.

The first Super Lawyers list was published in 1991 and by 2009 the rating service had expanded nationwide. In February 2010 Super Lawyers was acquired by Thomson Reuters the world’s leading source of intelligent information for business and professionals.

Chew Tobacco, SPIT!

No TobaccoBy LaSona Turk

If you dip, chew or just enjoy a good spit, Marietta may not be the best place for these activities. Internet reports of a city ordinance restricting this particular habit have us wondering if it really does exist.

Those of you who spit from your trucks are welcome to do so in Marietta! Apparently, the city believes that driving a truck goes hand in hand with dipping, chewing and spitting. Bus passengers, however, must refrain from spitting in Marietta. If you are driving your car through the city, no spitting for you either.

We’re not sure if this ordinance was intended to curb tobacco use, encourage truck ownership or even if it exists as a law in Marietta. But, it does add flavor to the rich history of this great city!

Georgia Laws That Make You Go Hmmm…

ice-cream-pocketSweet Things

By Tammie Gruhn

You know how Georgians love their sweet things, but on Sunday you have to keep your ice cream cones out of your back pocket. Carrying ice cream in that pocket is against the law…but only on Sunday!

According to many sources on the internet, this is one of many stupid laws that remain on the books. Though there are indeed some silly laws in Georgia and all across the US, research has revealed this one to be nothing more than fun folklore! The origin of this particular faux law is in Lexington, KY, where horse thieves supposedly used this tactic to lure horses away from their rightful owners. If caught, the thief could claim he never touched the horse, it just followed him home. Apparently, Sunday was not a fun day for horse thieves in Lexington!

Just for fun and a little education along with way, we’ll continue to explore the crazy laws that may or may not exist in Georgia and elsewhere!

Leslie O’Neal’s Case Affirmed by the Georgia Supreme Court

Leslie headshot outside_9797_10x10“Judgments affirmed. All the Justices concur.” That was the decision of all of the Georgia Supreme Court Justices on September 23, 2013 following oral arguments presented before them in June.  Leslie represented the Appellee at the trial level in a petition to modify the terms of his original divorce decree. He was seeking sole legal custody of two minor children and an increase in child support. After a multi-day final trial, the trial court granted him sole legal custody, an increase in child support, and attorney’s fees from the other side.   The opposing party appealed the trial court’s ruling and after oral arguments, the Supreme Court affirmed all aspects of the trial court’s decision.

 

This opinion by the highest court in our state is a tremendous affirmation of Leslie O’Neal’s commitment to serving her clients. We are proud of Leslie’s continued success in the Georgia Supreme Court and congratulate her on another victory in this arena!

Read the Supreme Court’s opinion:

http://www.gasupreme.us/sc-op/pdf/s13a0911.pdf

Justin O’Dell Achieves Preeminent Peer Rating with Martindale-Hubbell

Justin cropped Super Lawyer Congratulations to Justin O’Dell for his Preeminent AV rating by his legal peers with Martindale-Hubbell! Justin has been reviewed by his peers in the legal community for his legal knowledge, experience and ethics, achieving the outstanding Preeminent rating with Martindale-Hubbell. At O’Dell & O’Neal Attorneys, we value being recognized by other members of the Georgia Bar as a testament to our ability to serve clients with the highest level of professionalism and expertise. Click on the Peer Rating  button to see Justin’s complete Martindale-Hubbell profile.

AV rating Martindale