Richmond County deputies arrest deadbeat parents

Pay up or get locked up. That’s the message Richmond County is sending to deadbeat parents.

During a week-long sting, the county’s crime suppression team arrested moms and dads who owe thousands of dollars in back child support payments. Deputies arrested more than 70 people out of 168 warrants. One father owed more than $87,000 in back pay.

“His last payment was made January 31, 2005. He literally packed up in the middle of the night and moved," said a mother.

The single mom, who didn’t want to be identified, says she’s been waiting on this day for a long time. The father of her child owes $12,000 in back child support.

"It’s been a real struggle. She needs glasses and braces. All that cost money," said the mother.

Officers went door to door hunting down deadbeat parents. Those arrested faced a judge Friday.

"There are thousands of children not receiving support and millions of dollars are due to children in the community," said Judge Sheryl Jolly, Superior Court.

Jolly is one of the judges behind this operation. She sees about 50 child support cases a week. She says most of the parents who are behind on their payments don’t have a steady job.

"They don’t have regular employment, lack the skills of a regular job or are just lazy and don’t want a job to get out of paying these obligations," said Jolly.

But one father who was arrested doesn’t agree.

"I should be given a chance to pay my child support now that I have a job. I wouldn’t be out in the heat and rain if I wasn’t going to pay. Now we’re getting locked up," he said.

He didn’t want to be identified, but says the problem isn’t just when the dads don’t pay up. It’s also how the moms are spending the money.

"When the father does pay, the mother misuses it by going out to the clubs or spending it on her friends," he said.

"For every one of those, there’s a thousand where the custodial parent needs the money to support the child," said Jolly.

Support deputies say deadbeat parents will have to give if they want to get out of jail.

"The message we are trying to get across , if you are not paying your child support, catch it up or we’ll come pick you up," said Cpl. Hal Hitchcock, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.

Judge Jolly tells NBC Augusta Richmond County plans to conduct these child support sweeps throughout the year.

Parents had to pay their child support in full to get out of jail. Most in court were given the option of paying $500 upfront and setting up payments for the balance or spend 30 days in jail.

SOURCE: NBCAugusta.com

Why You Need a Prenup

Dreamstime_1186674 A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people about to get married that shows exactly how assets will be distributed in the event of divorce or death. Such agreements have existed for thousands of years in some form or another. In an article published at Excel Articles Directory, Michigan divorce attorney Jannelle J. Zawaideh discusses categories of people who should consider having a prenuptial agreement, what a prenuptial agreement can do, and other reasons for having a prenuptial agreement.

She notes that a common myth is that prenuptial agreements are only designed for very wealthy individuals and this is not necessarily true. A person who has managed to save $25,000 may be more protective of their little nest egg than someone who has millions.

According to Ms. Zawaideh, you should consider having a prenup if you fall into any of the following categories:

  1. You have assets such as a home, stock or retirement funds
  2. You own all or part of a business
  3. You may be receiving an inheritance
  4. You have children and/or grandchildren from a previous marriage
  5. One of you is much wealthier than the other
  6. One of you will be supporting the other through college
  7. You have loved ones who need to be taken care of, such as elderly parents
  8. You have or are pursuing a degree or license in a potentially lucrative profession such as medicine
  9. You could see a big increase in income because your business is taking off, or that garage band you play in has just gotten a contract with a big record company.

It is essential that the prospective spouses hire separate attorneys It would be in your best interest to hire separate prenuptial attorneys. Without that, there could be a construed conflict of interest. Many prenup agreements have been thrown out because an aggrieved spouse did not have legal representation. The attorneys co-write the agreement with their clients’ best interests in mind.

The author also describes what a prenuptial agreement can do for you:

1. Keep finances separate. Every state has laws designating certain kinds of assets accumulated during marriage as marital property or community property, even if these assets are held in the name of just one spouse. If a couple divorces, or when one spouse dies, the marital or community property will be divided between them, either by agreement or by a court. If you want to avoid having some or all of your individual accumulations during marriage divided up by a court, you can do so with a premarital agreement.

2. Protect each other from debts. Some of us bring debts, as well as assets, to a marriage. If there’s no prenup, creditors can sometimes turn to marital or community property to satisfy the debts of just one spouse. But if you want to make sure that saying "I do" does not mean saying "I owe," you can use a prenup to limit your liability for each other’s debts. Provide for children from prior marriages. A prenup is helpful (perhaps essential) if either of you has children from another relationship and you want to make sure that your children inherit their share of your property. In a prenup, one or both spouses can give up the right to claim a share of the other’s property at death, perhaps in exchange for an agreed upon amount of property.

3. Keep property in the family. If your property includes something you want to keep in your birth family, whether it be an heirloom or a share in a family business, you and your spouse can agree that it will remain in your family, and you can specify that item in your prenup. This can even include property that you expect to receive in a future inheritance. Follow through by making your estate plan. In addition to using your prenup to waive inheritance rights and state your intentions for passing on your property at death, it’s vital that you prepare the estate planning documents — a will, living trust, and so on — that actually transfer your property as you intend.

4. Define who gets what if you divorce. Without a prenup, state law will specify how your property will be divided if you ever divorce. These laws may dictate a result that neither of you wants. You can use a prenup to establish your own rules for property division and avoid potential disagreements in the event of a divorce. In most states, you can also make agreements about whether or not one or both of you will be entitled to alimony. Some states forbid or restrict agreements about alimony, however.

5. Clarify responsibilities during the marriage. Some examples of other matters people have included in their prenups: whether to file joint or separate income tax returns or to allocate income and tax deductions on separate tax returns

  1. Who will pay the household bills — and how whether to have joint bank accounts and, if so, how to manage them agreements about specific purchases or projects, such as buying a house together or starting up a business
  2. How to handle credit card charges — for instance, whether you will use different cards for different types of purchases, what kinds of records you will keep, and how you will make payments agreements to set aside money for savings agreements for putting each other through college or professional school
  3. Whether you will provide for a surviving spouse — for example, in your estate plan or with life insurance coverage, and how to settle any future disagreements — for example, you might agree to hire either a mediator or a private arbitrator.

As in Georgia, the author stresses that the most important ingredient of a solid prenuptial agreement is honesty. Both parties must FULLY disclose their assets. If it turns out either person has hidden something, a judge can toss out the contract.

It is also important that to enhance enforceability, an agreement must also be signed well in advance of the wedding. You can not present your significant other with a prenup the day before the big day and think you can rush them into signing it without careful consideration.

The document should be signed as early before the nuptials as possible to avoid the appearance of coercion, another key reason why some agreements are rendered null and void.

It is recommended to plan ahead and have the prenup agreed upon at least one month before the wedding and preferably before the invitations have been sent out to make sure you are both on the same page. Nothing would be more embarrassing than to cancel a wedding after the invitations have went out all because you could not agree on the prenuptial agreement.

A valid prenup also is "fair" and will not leave one of the parties destitute. No matter what state you’re in, the state will look for equity to make sure one spouse is not being taken advantage of.

Finally, she discusses how prenups can include responsibilities that don’t deal with money, but discourages you from making demands that might seem frivolous, such as requiring that your spouse not gain weight, or that he or she quit smoking and take out the garbage three times a week.

SOURCE: 7 Reasons You Better Get A Prenuptial Agreement an article by Jannelle J. Zawaideh, published at Excel Articles Directory

8 Tips When Developing Your Estate Plan

Eight You’ve spent years growing your wealth and building your estate, so it is just good sense to plan to protect your assets and pass them on to your beneficiaries according to your wishes. When you’re ready to sit down with your financial professional and develop an estate plan, keep these tips in mind:

1. Write a will.

If you do not have a will when you die, the law of your state may then determine what happens to your estate, your assets and any minor children. In addition, the state process, usually governed by probate court, is often slow, sometimes expensive and open to the public.

2. Fund a living trust.

Follow through if you set up a living trust. Until you transfer ownership of property or assets to it, the trust is not worth any more to you or your beneficiaries than the paper it’s printed on. Unfortunately, many revocable living trusts are set up but are never funded. [Editor’s note: this is a key reason that so many estate plans fail. When you work with a Personal Family Lawyer, funding of the trust is an important element which is monitored if you do it yourself or is done for you when those services are retained.]

3. Re-title "JWROS" property.

Joint-Tenancy-With-Right of Survivorship titling of assets may result in estate planning headaches. Although probate is avoided at the first joint owner’s death, it is not avoided at the death of the survivor, thus only delaying estate taxes. Re-titling assets to a credit shelter trust can help avoid probate and provide estate tax savings.

4. Use both spouses’ estate exemption amount.

Leaving all property and assets to a spouse may avoid estate taxes at the death of the first spouse, but this approach wastes the estate tax credit of the "first-to-die." A credit shelter trust can maximize each spouse’s estate exemption amount, thus sheltering more assets from estate tax liabilities.

5. Re-title ownership of life insurance policies.

Most life insurance policies are owned by the insured, causing the policy’s face amount to be included in that person’s estate at his or her death. Policy owners may consider giving policies directly to the beneficiary or transferring the policies to an irrevocable life insurance trust. Either strategy could help reduce estate taxes.

6. Choose an appropriate executor.

Naming an inexperienced family member as executor could complicate the demanding task of settling your estate. This is especially true at a difficult and emotional time following a death. Look into the benefits of naming a professional organization to follow through with the duties of an executor.

7. Organize your paperwork and files.

If you do not provide your executors and beneficiaries with all the paperwork or files pertaining to your property, assets and wishes, improper distribution and management of your estate may result.

8. Update your estate plan.

Updating your estate plan from time to time is important so that it is implemented exactly according to your wishes. You will want to update your estate plan when there are changes in your family (births, marriages, divorces, deaths, etc.), or when the value of your estate significantly increases or decreases, when tax laws change, if you move to another state or if your business or career changes. [Editor’s Note: This is the other key reason plans faila and do not work at the time when the planner’s family needed them the most. The laws change, your assets change, and unless you are working with a Personal Family Lawyer like our firm, which maintains a relationship with you and your family for life, your plan may fail as well]

When you are ready to begin your estate planning strategies, talk to your financial adviser. Be sure to consult your tax and legal adviser as well before making any tax-related or legally related investment decisions.

SOURCE: NewsChief.com in an article by John Scheck, a wealth adviser and branch manager at the Winter Haven Morgan Stanley, & Co. Inc.

Don’t Wait to Create Your Own Last Lecture

Randy Pausch died on July 25, 2008.  You know Randy because, after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and being given a diagnosis of 3-6 months to live, he gave his “Last Lecture” to a packed classroom at Carnegie Mellon where he was a professor.

His Last Lecture went on to be translated into 7 languages, made into a book, over 10,000,000 people watched the video, the NY Times created a contest around it, and it even garnered him an appearance on Oprah.

Randy never intended so many people to receive this last lecture.  As he says, he wrote it for only three people, his sons.

What was it we loved so much about Randy Pausch’s brave attempt to cram a lifetime of lessons for his children into the limited time he knew he had left?

It has some connection to the recent global study conducted by HSBC Insurance, which indicated that 90% of people surveyed globally want to leave behind something far more valuable than their money.  They want to leave behind their perspective on life.

Interesting note:  In the US, the number of people wanting to primarily leave behind the almighty dollar was a little higher with 26 percent of pre-retirement folks and 39 percent of retirees wanting to focus on the money they’ll leave behind.

The vast majority of people said what they want to leave behind is what Randy Pausch so brilliantly left for his children.  It’s far more valuable than money.  But, unlike money, it can be difficult to capture and pass on.  And most of us will fail miserably because we won’t be given 3-6 months to live as Randy was, and so day by day, we’ll live our lives never thinking about the end.  And, then, it will be too late.

My dad certainly would have said that he wanted his heirs to inherit his perspective on life and, yet, what did he do to ensure that would happen?  Nothing.  He didn’t leave letters, video recordings, audio recordings or anything that would remind us of what he would do, think or say in any given situation.

Sure, we have our memories, but those become twisted over time by our own perceptions (or misperceptions) as they may be.  As a result, our children and their children will never have any real idea about who he was and what’s important to him.

All of that of course is water under the bridge.  Nothing can be done about it now.  But it’s not too late for you.

If you are part of the vast majority of people who say you want to leave behind something much greater than your money, what are you doing about it?  And when are you starting?

Your Personal Family Lawyer has a simple process he or she will use with you called a Priceless Conversation that in just 30 or so minutes will capture, record and document your own Last Lecture.  And over your lifetime, each year you can have a new Priceless Conversation and create a true Legacy Library for the people you love.

SOURCE: Family Wealth Matters

Alec Baldwin writes divorce guide

Hollywood actor wants to help men survive their failed marriages

Alec Baldwin has written a practical guide to divorce for men.

The actor has put his bitter court battle with actress Kim Basinger behind him by writing A Promise To Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood And Divorce.

But he hopes not to reignite his war of words with his ex-wife, who he once described as ‘dark and manipulative’ and ‘a thoughtless pain in the ass’.

‘I took care to be very kind and measured in dealing with her,’ he says.

‘It is not a personal memoir, and I have no desire to settle some score with her through this. In fact, I was originally reluctant to write this book for that very reason.’

The Baldwins married in 1993 and separated 7 years later. During the mudslinging over custody of daughter Ireland, now 13, Kim, 55 called Alec, 50, a ‘tinpot tyrant and bully’.

‘I didn’t want to be perceived as stirring the pot or calling attention to any of that again,’ he tells Weekend. ‘However, I do find the situation disgraceful and I wanted to say so.’

A Promise To Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood And Divorce is published on 23 September.

SOURCE: Now Magazine