Virtual Cobb Diaper Day 2020

The Cobb Diaper Day Committee is holding its 12th Annual Diaper Day virtually this year to collect diapers for low-income families through the month of September.

Ways to donate:

1. Purchase diapers and arrange a drop-off with Kyleigh Hall from our office. Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-5:00 pm. Sept 3rd- Sept 29th.

2. To make a monetary donation directly to the diaper day fund visit: http://www.cobbdiaperday.com/

3. Order diapers on Amazon and have them shipped to our office (Attn: Kyleigh Hall, 506 Roswell Street, Suite 210, Marietta, GA 30060).
Here’s the link to the Amazon Diaper Day Wish List: (https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/YNH3HQRU8F6Q?)

Please share and get the word out!

The facts:
• Food Stamps do not include hygiene products such as diapers.
• On average, the cost to purchase diapers is approximately $100/month or more!
• Day-Care centers require parents to provide their own diapers.
• Local non-profit agencies have daily requests for diapers, however, due to limited supply/donations, they can only dispense diapers 4-6 times a year per client.

About the proceeds:
• Cobb Diaper Day is a community effort under The Cobb Children’s Fund, a 501(c)3 organization.
• Organizations benefiting from this year’s efforts include Center for Family Resources, MUST Ministries, Simple Needs, Sweetwater Mission, and liveSAFE Resources.

“Divorce: Mediation vs. Litigation” by Susan Heikkila
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a common process used to settle a divorce. In a divorce mediation, a neutral third party is hired to discuss and resolve the issues between you and your spouse in order to settle your case. Every mediator has his or her own style, but most mediations follow a similar format- the parties and their respective attorneys set up in separate rooms, presenting their ideal resolutions and issues to the mediator. The mediator takes the positions of both parties, along with their perspectives and views of the case, and helps them work toward an agreement that covers all aspects of the divorce. Mediation can happen at many different stages of a divorce, and even can take place before either party has filed for divorce. Some counties, including Cobb, require the parties to attend mediation prior to setting a final trial or even a temporary hearing. But besides just checking that box before you can head to court, it may be in your best interest to settle your case at mediation. Here’s why.
Why Mediate?
There are several advantages to settling your case at mediation- although a trial may sometimes be unavoidable, mediation is often easier for everyone involved. First, everything that takes place at mediation is confidential. Most court records are public, and the courtroom is a forum that is open to the public, so theoretically anyone can sit in and listen to the details of your divorce. The events that take place at mediation are never published or released to public records, and the mediator can’t be called to trial should your case advance to court.
The process of mediation is often quicker, once a date is set with the mediator, momentum in your case can really take off. Mediation can also be less contentious- you aren’t hashing a divorce out in court with your spouse, introducing evidence and going through cross-examinations, which could help maintain a working relationship for the future. If you will need to co-parent with your spouse down the line, saving any mudslinging in a trial could be beneficial for your children and your mental health. Court can be hostile and bring emotions or facts to the surface that are upsetting to both parties.
A key advantage to mediation is that you are in control of how your divorce is settled. During trial, the court determines the outcome and hands the parties a ruling based on the evidence heard in court that day. In mediation, you are in control of the final settlement- if it’s a deal you aren’t happy with, you are under no obligation to accept or sign. When you go to trial, the judge hands you the final decision and there are no negotiations, even if the final result does not meet you’re your expectations.
Saving costs is another advantage to settling your divorce at mediation. A full trial can cost tens of thousands of dollars and months to get on a judge’s calendar. While mediation is a required step before a final trial, settling your divorce at mediation can save the costs of advancing further.
Complicated and difficult decisions come with litigating a divorce. Dealing with custody, dividing assets, and managing support obligations to name a few. Being in control of these decisions and having more oversight on the negotiations can be more beneficial in the long run for your divorce. But if you are dealing with a highly emotional or unilateral situation, litigation may be a better option in order to have a Judge provide a realistic picture of the outcome of your case to your spouse. If your spouse if unlikely to work towards a settlement in mediation or become unreasonable in negotiations, a trial or a hearing can be easier in terms of obtaining a realistic outcome.
The goal for the attorney is to obtain a reasonable settlement that is favorable to the represented party. Usually with all great settlements is that neither party walks away happy, because both parties negotiated terms that they had to give up and gain. But mediation provides you with the opportunity to settle your divorce on your own terms, and avoid the hassle, delay, and costs of a trial.
Election Law

Individuals who are seeking higher office and elected officials holding office are subject to challenges to their eligibility. In addition, not every election is correctly conducted. In some instances, voters within entire precincts, wards or even cities can be disenfranchised.

 

Visit our website at https://odelloneal.com/practice-areas/election-law/ to read how Justin O’Dell has successfully handled election disputes in Cobb County.

“Statutory Electronic Service Revisited” by Nick Booth

STATUTORY ELECTRONIC SERVICE has been a lawful means of service under the Georgia Civil Practice Act since 2009.  However, given the wave of changes that have occurred since that time with Georgia’s e-filing systems and procedures, along with new challenges presented in today’s time and the increasing flexibility that attorneys have in their working environment, the subject warrants revisiting.

OCGA § 9-11-5 outlines the procedures and parameters for service of pleadings filed subsequent to the original complaint, as well as other documents that are not filed with the court.  Subsection (b) of the statute authorizes service by delivering a copy of the pleading or other document by “transmitting a copy via e-mail in portable document format (PDF) to the person to be served.”  However, before a litigant is permitted to serve a party via statutory electronic service pursuant to OCGA § 9-11-5(b), that party must first provide some form of consent pursuant to OCGA § 9-11-5(f).

How to Consent to Statutory Electronic Service

OCGA § 9-11-5(f) provides for three different ways that parties and/or attorneys can consent to statutory electronic service:

  1. Complaint/Answer Consent – The party can include the person to be served’s e-mail address(es) in or below the signature block of their complaint, if they are the plaintiff, or in their answer, if they are a defendant [OCGA § 9-11-5(f)(1)(B)]; or
  2. Consent by Notice – The party can file a Notice of Consent to Electronic Service and include the person to be served’s e-mail address(es) in the Notice [OCGA § 9-11-5(f)(1)(A)]; or
  3. E-Filing System Consent (For Attorneys Only) – When an attorney files a pleading in a case through an e-filing system, the attorney is deemed to have consented to statutory electronic service with future pleadings for that case at the primary e-mail address on record with the e-filing system. Note – in cases that were initiated using an e-filing system, an attorney may not rescind their consent to be served with pleadings via statutory electronic service. [OCGA § 9-11-5(f)(4)].

It is important to note that, once a party provides consent to be served via Statutory Electronic Service, it is that party’s responsibility to provide notice of any change in their email address(es). [OCGA § 9-11-5(f)(3)].

How to Serve a Party via Statutory Electronic Service

In order to perfect Statutory Electronic Service via e-mail, the subject line of the e-mail must contain the words “STATUTORY ELECTRONIC SERVICE” in all-capital letters.  The e-mail must be sent to all e-mail addresses provided by a party pursuant to OCGA § 9-11-5(f).

While most, if not all, e-filing systems in the State of Georgia will automatically serve documents in conformance with OCGA § 9-11-5(b), it is better as an order of course to perfect service both through the e-filing system as well as through a separate e-mail to avoid certain procedural hazards as explained in more detail below.

What Happens If You Didn’t Receive the Electronic Service?

In the event that a party does not receive electronic service of a pleading, OCGA § 9-11-5(f)(5) allows that party to certify to the court that they did not receive such pleading.  The certification must be made under oath (i.e., either by sworn affidavit or direct sworn testimony to the court).  If such a showing is made, then there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the party did not, in fact, receive the pleading.  The serving party may dispute the assertion of nonservice, in which case the court shall decide the issue.

Best Practices

Because OCGA § 9-11-5(f)(5) provides a mechanism for disputing service, it is important for litigants to maintain sufficient proof of service so that they are able to rebut the assertion of nonservice.  OCGA § 9-11-5(b) provides that “[p]roof of service may be made by certificate of an attorney or of his or her employee, by written admission, by affidavit, or by other proof satisfactory to the court.”  Given these available methods, and in order to maintain adequate proof of service to present if necessary, the author recommends that litigants utilize multiple methods of service upon a party.  This includes Statutory Electronic Service through both the court’s e-filing system and by e-mail, as well as by sending hard copies in the mail in certain situations.  A certificate providing proof of service in such instance should observe the following form:

This is to certify that the undersigned served true and accurate copies of [the document] to all parties of record via Statutory Electronic Service through the Court’s e-filing system and by email, and by depositing the same in the United States Mail, with sufficient postage affixed thereon to assure delivery and properly addressed as follows:

[Tom Carlyle]

[33 Linden Avenue]

[Greenville, Georgia 30222]

[tcarlyle@internet.com]

By utilizing multiple forms of service, you can ensure that a party receives your pleading or other document, and will also have access to multiple forms of proof that the document was actually served.

Conclusion

With the increasing ability of attorneys and litigants to work from home, as well as the required use and standardization of e-filing systems in Georgia, Statutory Electronic Service will continue to become the primary, and oftentimes sole, means of service in civil cases.  As such, it is important for parties to equip themselves with the tools to effectively utilize electronic service.  Moreover, these tools can help save time, resources, and streamline the processes for which parties receive and store information.

“Maintaining Connection in A Time of Uncertainty” by Susan Heikkila
After three grueling years of law school, the time finally arrived for me to face life as a lawyer. The New Year passed and I prepared to begin my job with O’Dell & O’Neal. I was excited and anxious about getting into a new routine and settling into a new environment with new people.
After a shorter period of time than I expected, I began to feel comfortable accomplishing tasks and handling assignments. I was excited to work with clients and handle responsibilities independently. Then the coronavirus public health crisis began to impact our community.
As a business providing essential services, we adapted quickly to the impact of the global pandemic. The virus was spreading by the hour and our plans were evolving at the same pace. Once Georgia began to shelter in place, our firm was fully equipped to work remotely. The firm kept operations at full speed despite changes in the courts through the Emergency Judicial Order. This will drastically affect our Cobb County court system and the state courts for the foreseeable future.
One thing that has not changed is the needs of our clients and the need to stay connected with those families. We are now navigating our way through a new normal, one in which schools and businesses are closed, children are at home, and contact with family and friends is limited. Because of this, families with custody schedules or those in the process of a divorce are faced with even more significant challenges.
One thing that I have missed from my first few months with O’Dell & O’Neal is the face-to-face connection. Client consultations, court hearings, and meetings with other lawyers have been significant experiences to help shape my career thus far. Connection is a vital part of human life, and we are all dealing with a major change not just in our professional lives, but our personal lives. We are living in an overwhelming time, but maintaining a schedule and sense of normalcy can help ease the anxiety of the uncertain times.
Maintaining a schedule, embracing changes, keeping communication open and dynamic – those are a few ways to maintain connection and ease tensions in your household. I have been maintaining a normal work schedule, making sure to get outside for daily walks, and calling/FaceTiming with friends and family. We are all in this together, and we are always here to answer your questions and address your concerns.
Remote Notarization

On April 9, 2020 the Governor issued an Executive Order of the State of Georgia regarding remote notarization. Attorneys are now able to execute needed documents using real-time audio-video communication technology that allows the parties to communicate with each other simultaneously.

Now is the time to review or consider important estate planning documents. These documents include: your Last Will and Testament, Living Trust, Beneficiary Designations, Financial Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney for Minor Children and Living Will.

If you have any questions about estate planning or how to protect yourself, do not hesitate to contact our office at (770)-405-0164 or through email at ksh@odelloneal.com.

“Business (Not) as Usual – A Reflection on the New Normal” by Nick Booth
“He who could foresee affairs three days in advance would be rich for thousands of years.”
– Sir Thomas Carlyle
In the wake of COVID-19, businesses and workforces are scrambling to cope with a never-before-seen interruption of corporate and industrial operations. While some sectors have been hit much harder than others, no one is unblemished by the effects that this virus has caused on the world and society. This is not to say, however, that business must come to a grinding halt, or that the virus spells nothing but doom and gloom in the economy for the foreseeable future. Don’t be surprised to see certain businesses thriving during this time, or better yet, to see new businesses arrive on the scene that are able to keep their operations running at high gear and/or provide goods or services that fill needs that we may not have realized were necessary prior to this outbreak (we see you Tushy).
Ultimately, the businesses and individuals best able to pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic are the ones who are going to come out the other side successful and flourishing. For example, many businesses are implementing remote capabilities so that they can continue to work and serve their communities. Do not be surprised if you see this trend continue even after social distancing restrictions are lifted, as people have already begun to see benefits to their productivity, physical and mental well-being, savings on overhead and costs of doing business, and the improved health of their communities and environment.
For some folks, this may be a great time to start a new business venture to take advantage of all the new opportunities that are presenting themselves. For others who may have had an ongoing business or undertaking which may have been interrupted, there are a variety of creative solutions that can be employed to ensure that, when business does resume, they can jump back in right where they left off. Still, there are others who may be presented with the opportune time to wind up certain business affairs and move on to new endeavors. No matter what position you may be in, whether it be a new business formation, a need to resolve a business dispute or reach an interim agreement or understanding, or a desire to wind up business affairs, the law firm of O’Dell, O’Neal, Hungerford, & Blanchard stands ready to assist you. We are adequately equipped with the tools needed to help you, and will work diligently to provide as much normalcy as possible to your business dealings during this time.
How Does COVID-19 and School Closures Affect My Visitation Schedule?

With schools having closed for the remainder of the school year and the Governor’s Executive Order due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be wondering how this affects your current parenting plan/visitation schedule.  The Governor issued an Executive Order on April 3 2020 clarifying that “no provision of the Executive Order 04.02.20.01 shall limit, infringe, suspend, or supplant any judicial order, judgment, or decree, including custodial arrangements…” The Order also clarified that essential services include “transport, visitation, regular care of family members and persons dependent on the services of others, and similar actions that ensure the welfare and bests inserts of persons in the State of Georgia…children…”

 

The Cobb Superior Court has issued a Notice of Clarification advising that visitation with parents is an essential services  and should continue during the Executive Shelter in Place Order.  Accordingly, parents should be following the terms for custody and visitation outlined in their parenting plan/visitation schedule.

 

O’Dell, O’Neal, Hungerford, and Blanchard have extensive experience in all aspects of custody and visitation matters. For questions regarding guidance from your superior court or questions regarding compliance with the terms of your parenting plan/visitation scheduled, please give us a call at 770-405-0164.

Extensive Experience in Probate Litigation and Administration

After the loss of a loved one, the estate must be probated in order to effectuate the administration and transfer of the individual’s assets and belongings. If the individual left a last will and testament, this document must be presented and probated. If there is no will, the individual’s estate will be administered pursuant to the intestate laws of Georgia. The probate process is critical to ensure the orderly administration of affairs, proper notice to creditors and closure of the matter to avoid unknown claims being asserted at a later date or time.

O’Dell, O’Neal, Hungerford, and Blanchard have extensive experience in all aspects of probate litigation and administration. These matters are highly emotional and the firm serves to provide compassionate and professional advice in order to allow the client to make prudent decisions. Our office is currently taking phone consultations and will ensure the estate process is completed following all current health and government guidelines. Please give us a call at 770-405-0164.