Court sides with Atlanta mother of Florida multimillionaire’s twins
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 10/30/07
When Atlanta resident Diana Gowins gave birth to twins fathered by a married multimillionaire, she felt her children deserved the finer things in life.
The father, high-profile Florida-based attorney Willie Gary, gave his former lover money for the twins, but when he felt she was misusing the child support, he took her to court in November 2005. Gary convinced Fulton County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Wright to reduce his payments from $28,000 a month to $5,000.
I highly recommend Robin Hilborn’s book, reproduced below, to their children’s tecahers to get them thinking about adoption and to start a dialogue on concerns about typical curricula in schools as it affects our adopted children:
2nd ed., 2005
By Robin Hilborn
A resource document prepared by Robin Hilborn, editor of
Family Helper, to promote the teaching of adoption in schools
What is adoption all about? When a student asks this, will you have an answer?
We present here some basic information on adoption for the elementary and secondary school teacher.
While the focus is on the adopted child, we have tried to include the perspective of children of other non-traditional families.
We hope you will find this guide useful in your classroom. Give a copy to your principal. Suggest the school board make it a resource for teachers. The students’ questions are sure to come.
MODULE ONE — Many ways to make a family
MODULE TWO — Many ways to create a child
MODULE THREE — Biased class assignments — and how to fix them
MODULE FOUR — Teaching the language of adoption
MODULE FIVE — How to introduce adoption in elementary school
MODULE SIX — Answers for the pregnant student
MODULE SEVEN — A suggested classroom presentation
MODULE EIGHT — Research points the way
MODULE NINE — Adoption resources for teachers and students
MODULE TEN — Glossary: the ABCs of adoption
The General Assembly passed a new Advance Directive for Health Care Act, which was signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue. House Bill 24 is designed to provide for an advance directive for health care, which combines provisions of a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care.
This is the statutory form for the new Advance Directive for Health Care in Georgia:
Date of Birth:
This advance directive for health care has four parts:
PART ONE—Health Care Agent. This part allows you to choose someone to make health care decisions for you when you cannot (or do not want to) make health care decisions for yourself. The person you choose is called a health care agent. You may also have your health care agent make decisions for you after your death with respect to an autopsy, organ donation, body donation, and final disposition of your body. You should talk to your health care agent about this important role.
PART TWO—Treatment Preferences. This part allows you to state your treatment preferences if you have a terminal condition or if you are in a state of permanent unconsciousness. PART TWO will become effective only if you are unable to communicate your treatment preferences. Reasonable and appropriate efforts will be made to communicate with you about your treatment preferences before PART TWO becomes effective. You should talk to your family and others close to you about your treatment preferences.
PART THREE—Guardianship. This part allows you to nominate a person to be your guardian should one ever be needed.
PART FOUR—Effectiveness and Signatures. This part requires your signature and the signatures of two witnesses. You must complete PART FOUR if you have filled out any other part of this form.
You may fill out any or all of the first three parts listed above. You must fill out PART FOUR of this form in order for this form to be effective.
You should give a copy of this completed form to people who might need it, such as your health care agent, your family, and your physician. Keep a copy of this completed form at home in a place where it can easily be found if it is needed. Review this completed form periodically to make sure it still reflects your preferences. If your preferences change, complete a new advance directive for health care.
Using this form of advance directive for health care is completely optional. Other forms of advance directives for health care may be used in Georgia.
You may revoke this completed form at any time. This completed form will replace any advance directive for health care, durable power of attorney for health care, health care proxy, or living will that you have completed before completing this form.
Do grandparents have the right to visit their grandchildren?
In Georgia, grandparents can ask the Superior Court for visitation rights by filing a Petition for Visitation.
There are two ways for a grandparent to seek visitation.
1. File an Original Action for Visitation. A grandparent can file what is called an "original action" for visitation. To file this type of action:
- there can’t be any other cases before the court that involve custody or visitation for the child
- the parents of the child must be separated or divorced
- the grandparents can’t file this type of action more than once every two years, and
- the grandparents can’t file this type of action in any year that another custody action has been filed for the child.
2. Join an Existing Case. A grandparent may get involved in an existing case for custody, divorce, adoption, or termination of parental rights. To do this, a grandparent must show the court two things.
- A grandparent must show the court that the child’s health or welfare would be harmed if the grandparent could not visit the child.
- A grandparent must show that visitation is in the child’s best interests. It is difficult to show these two things. The court does not presume that grandparents should have visitation rights.
Once a court issues a final order in a family law case, the order is final. To request a change you must file a new case with the court. You should follow the terms of the original order until the court issues a new order. Even if you and the other party agree to a change, the change is not official until the court approves it in a court order.
Some things in a family law case are only changed in very rare circumstances. For example, property and debt division in a divorce generally cannot be changed. Paternity decisions generally are not changed. These kinds of orders can only be "set aside" if circumstances like fraud, duress or improper notice can be shown.
Some issues in family law cases are commonly changed. Child custody, visitation and child support orders are frequently changed by the courts. Still, the court follows certain guidelines to determine whether a requested change is proper.
(1) Child custody: In child custody modifications, courts look for a change in the child’s life or a change a parent’s life that "materially" affects the welfare of the child. The change can be positive or negative. If the reason for the change is based on a parent’s circumstances, you must also prove that the change affects the child, not just the parent. Also, the reason for the change should be something that has occurred since the final order was decided. It is possible to base a change of custody case on something that existed at the time of the original court case. However, you would have to show that the condition has worsened or improved "materially" since the original order was decided.
[Under current Georgia law (until January 1, 2008) w]hen a child is fourteen (14) years or older, the child can chose to live with either parent. Unless the parent can be shown to be "unfit", the courts will honor the child’s choice. In this case you do not need to show a "material" change of circumstances. When a child is twelve (12) years old, the child can tell the court which parent he or she wants to live with. In this case the court will consider the child’s choice, but will not necessarily do what the child wants.
(2) Visitation: Visitation can be changed if it is in the best interests of the child. You do not need to prove that there has been a "material" change in the child’s life or a parent’s life. Once the court grants a modification of visitation, you have to wait two (2) years to ask the court for another change. However, if you can prove that a material change of circumstances is the reason for the change, you don’t need to wait the two (2) years.
(3) Child support: Child support orders can be changed based on a change in the income or financial need of either parent. Child support can be changed based on the changing needs of the child. Sometimes if a child support enforcement agency is involved, either parent has the right to have the child support order periodically reviewed without going to court. Sometimes a parent can request a change in child support when there are major changes to the child support laws.
Modification of a court order in family law cases can be a complex process. If possible, you should discuss your case with an attorney or hire an attorney to represent you.