Georgia bill could ban GPS tracking

Private investigators in Georgia are a little irked at a proposed bill that could disallow placing GPS trackers on vehicles.  While the bill excludes parents tracking kids, cops, and enterprise usage, it includes private investigators.

Inside a completely ordinary SUV parked anywhere in Metro Atlanta, private investigator T.J. Ward and his team can track anyone at any time, without them knowing.

Instead following a target, running red lights and swerving through traffic, investigators like Ward can just stick a little box with a magnet to the bottom of a car in seconds. As a person drives, a computer program tracks them via satellite, and prints a list of their whereabouts — even how fast they were going. Ward’s team has been hired by parents after a bitter child custody case, or a spouse.

One of Ward’s clients, who was married for 18 years, said that  he used it for several weeks, just tracking where his wife’s vehicle was, and confirmed his suspicions. He credits the GPS surveillance with saving him millions of dollars in alimony.

Ward said, “These are the tools of our trade, just like it is with law enforcement.”That might not be the case for long. A proposed bill is in the Georgia
Legislature to outlaw the devices. It gives exception to law enforcement officers, but private investigators are not included.

Rep. Kevin Levitas wrote the legislation to protect Georgians, and offers exceptions for parents tracking children, cops tracking criminals, and employers watching
their vehicles, but not private investigators.”I think you or I need to be able to go to the shopping center, get a carton of eggs, and not have to check under our car to see if someone placed a tracking device,” said Levitas. “I think the legislation’s good so any John Doe person can’t walk into a store, buy a GPS and throw it on someone’s car, just because they want to know where someone is.”



The Domino Effect of The Current Economic Crisis

The following article is written by guest bloggers Sue K. Varon, Esq. and Martin S. Varon, CPA, CVA, JD, of Alternative Resolution Methods, Inc.

Sue_varon_profile  Marty Varon

The deepening recession, increased unemployment, and a stalled housing market have negatively impacted most of our clients’ financial situations. Many clients’ homes are underwater because of declining values.  Other divorcing couples who are fortunate enough to have equity in their most significant marital asset, their home, can not sell their house. Combine that with the plummeting values of retirement accounts, and we are looking at marital asset balance sheets that are nothing less than bleak. 

Although, historically, divorce rates tend to rise during a bad economy, divorce practitioners nationwide have noticed a change in their practices. Experts attribute the decline in divorce filings to the severity of the economic downturn. Typically, a recession results in decreased divorce rates for couples with limited financial resources. The prospect of incurring expenses for two households seems overwhelming for those with limited resources. On the other hand, high net-worth clients may seek to take advantage of the diminished value of their homes, stock and investment portfolios, and businesses to decrease their overall financial liability to their soon-to-be ex-spouse.

When the marital residence or small business is the most significant marital asset, the party who is able to retain the house or business may reap a significant benefit down the road, rather than the one who is compensated by cash or other assets, because the value of the house or business is likely to increase once the economy recovers.

The credit crisis has impacted us, as practitioners, as well. How many times have you heard from a client that their credit card is maxed out and he/she can not replenish their retainer? Discovery has been completed but there is no more money to fund the litigation. Where does that leave us? 

Instead of thinking of ways to get out of the case, perhaps we should begin to think of alternative ways to resolve the case in a more cost-effective manner. We are all familiar with mediation and late case evaluation. Arbitration is another alternative when impasse has positioned the parties and created a standstill. A three person arbitration panel, comprised of a family law expert, a financial expert and a mental health professional, may provide an insightful resolution that is far more productive than going to court. Bringing additional professionals into the picture may bring difficult issues into focus.

If the main problems are financial in nature, involving marital asset division or support alternatives, introducing a financial neutral to work with the parties may move things in the right direction. One thing many of us have not considered is the value that a financial neutral would contribute to helping the case settle in mediation. The presence of the financial expert at the mediation, working in conjunction with the mediator, would provide answers to many of the financial issues that impede the settlement process. Issues such as the tax savings associated with different support options, the variations in pension values caused by using different interest rate assumptions, and the after tax versus before tax values of various assets could be resolved right on the spot. When the primary sticking points center on custody issues, the assistance of a parent coordinator or child specialist could prove invaluable.  

Today’s economy requires us, as legal professionals, to assemble a team that will serve our clients in a cost-effective manner. Although we all know that some cases are destined to go to litigation, we should attempt to utilize alternative methods of resolution prior to taking this final leap. Mediation, arbitration and a form of the collaborative law model are just a few possibilities. We are fortunate to live in a community replete with knowledgeable and experienced experts who can provide our clients with wonderful resources. It is up to us to inform our clients of the availability of those options. 

How Support via Direct Deposit Damages Your Mortgage Application After Divorce

Kelly Lise Murray

Kelly Lise Murray, Co-Founder & President of warns against a hidden danger of divorce real estate -post-divorce mortgages.

Not all forms of alimony and child support count as YOUR income for mortgage purposes. In an article posted on, she cautions child support recipients that accepting your support by direct deposit is a huge mistake.  She says the same is true about cash.  The reason: Banks require proof of income. When you receive support by direct deposit or in cash, there is no paper trail or proof of income.

These are the things you need:

1. A Paper Trail – A Track Record of On-time Payment in Full: 

Without a paper trail creating a track record on on-time payments by the obligor, the mortgage lender cannot count your support as income.  And you may not qualify for a mortgage without it.

For the best paper trail, she suggests you have your support payments sent directly to state.  The slight time delay (from spouse to state to you) is more than made up for by the benefits of state-tracking and collection assistance for support arrears.  Plus, state-tracked child support arrears can become liens on your spouse’s post-divorce property; as a result, your spouse cannot refinance or sell that property without paying you!

Otherwise, only accept support by check and make sure you photocopy and keep a record of each support check you receive.

2. A Court Order Requiring Support for at Least 3 Years from the Date Your Mortgage Closes:

Lenders require a court order continuing child support for 3 years before it counts as income.  The same is true for alimony/spousal support.

You must actually receive support payments ontime, in full for 3 to 12 months before lenders will approve a mortgage, depending on the loan program.

The bottom line:  A mortgage professional can help you determine your best options now for a stronger financial future!  And sooner is always better in divorce real estate.