To Work or Not to Work? That is Sometimes the Question.

The following article is by Janet Langjahr of the Florida Divorce Law Blog:

In lengthier marriages where one partner has been a stay-at-home spouse and parent for most of the marriage, the homebound spouse often asks: should I look to get a job now that I know my spouse and I are going to divorce?

There are differing schools of thought on this important question. And sometimes the answer really depends on all the particulars of a given case.

But whether one generally favors putting off (or avoiding altogether) a return to the workforce or diving back in as soon as possible, there are considerations to bear in mind beyond the current number of dollars of salary potentially traded for dollars of current alimony:

  1. health insurance and other employee benefits of a job
  2. social security contributions for the future
  3. retirement benefits
  4. future raises
  5. a foot in the workplace at a time of life where that may be difficult to achieve
  6. the potential for the ex’s death (although life insurance generally can protect against that eventuality)
  7. the potential for the ex’s disability (statistically a likelier risk, which is less likely to be adequately protected against)
  8. the potential for the ex’s job loss or career setback

And, of course, the psychological and social benefits of working, which can be very beneficial to people going through divorce.

For more informatione see the Orlando Sentinel article by Jan Warner & Jan Collins below.

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Men Receiving Alimony Want A Little Respect

Modern Males Say Living Off the Ex-Wife Is No Cause for Shame

As a Hollywood actor, John David Castellanos is protective of his image. He stays in phenomenal shape and looks much younger than his 50 years.

But he admits to a fact that might be considered unflattering: He receives alimony from his former wife. To be exact, $9,000 a month.

"The law provides" for it, says Mr. Castellanos, who for years starred in the soap opera "The Young and the Restless."

In the nearly 30 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against gender discrimination in alimony, few male beneficiaries have stepped forward to talk about it. Those who did typically went by pseudonyms or the golden rule of 12-step recovery: first names only.

Little wonder, considering the attention that has come to some former husbands of alimony-paying celebrities. "Why the courts don’t tell a husband, who has been living off his wife, to go out and get a job is beyond my comprehension," Joan Lunden, the television personality, said in 1992 when a court ordered her to pay her ex-husband $18,000 a month.

But today’s men are shaking off the stigma of being supported by their ex-wives. Several agreed to talk on the record for this article, in part because they say the popular image of the male alimony recipient is unfair: He’s not always a slacker.

Mr. Castellanos says he has acted in or produced five movies since the breakup of his marriage, including a couple of projects that he says are nearing completion. If any of these projects strike gold, he says he would gladly forgo alimony. Even Ms. Lunden has had a change of heart. Through a former publicist, she now says of her 1992 comment: "That was a statement made in haste many years ago. I regret having said it."

Divorce experts say that fewer and fewer men are rejecting outright any talk of seeking alimony. The percentage of alimony recipients who are male rose to 3.6% during the five years ending in 2006, up from 2.4%, in the previous five-year period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

That percentage is likely to rise as more and more marriages feature a primary earner who is female. In 2005 (the latest year for which data are available), wives outearned their husbands in 33% of all families, up from 28.2% a decade earlier.

Alimony — a distinctly different category from child support — is the money that higher-earning spouses hand to their lower-earning counterparts following the end of their marriage. Often it is court-ordered, years in duration and based on big discrepancies in spousal incomes.

Classic Reasons

Today, men in growing numbers are receiving alimony for the classic reasons that women traditionally did. A common argument is that they sacrificed their careers for the sake of their wives’.

"If it was not for the joint decision to support Marjorie’s career advancement to the detriment of mine, I would be making considerably more money than I am currently," Christopher Bowen argued in a 2005 filing in Los Angeles Superior Court.

At the time of that request, Mr. Bowen was a Wachovia Securities executive receiving about $550,000 in annual pay, according to the court documents. But his wife, Marjorie Bowen, was expected in 2005 to earn $1.5 million as an executive at investment-banking boutique Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin, according to the court documents.

Mr. Bowen argued in the filing that when the couple moved back to Los Angeles because of her career opportunities, he took a cut in pay. "Based on my salary alone, I cannot maintain the marital standard of living," Mr. Bowen wrote in a petition filed in the Los Angeles court in August 2005.

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Lump Sum or Periodic Alimony? Shepherd v. Collins

In Shepherd v. Collins, S07A1658, the Supreme Court of Georgia, in a unanimous opinion written by Justce Harris Hines, reversed the judgment of the Superior Court of Laurens County, refusing to modify downward David Shepherd’s alimony payments to his former wife, Tammie Collins. The Supreme Court held that the trial court erred in determining that the language of the parties’ settlement agreement established an obligation for the payment of lump sum alimony rather than periodic alimony, since a proviso provided that the wife’s death would end the husband’s alimony obligation for 180 payments in certain specific amounts. In so holding, the Court noted that the amount of the husband’s total alimony obligation was made uncertain because of the contingency regarding the wife’s survival. Thus, the Court reversed that portion of the trial court’s judgment finding a lump sum alimony obligation and the consequent ruling on the merits of the husband’s petition for alimony modification and remanded the case for the trial court’s consideration.

SOURCE: Fulton County Daily Report and Supreme Court of Georgia

Georgia Spousal Support/Maintenance/Alimony Factors

In Georgia the support payments (if any) can certainly influence how the marital property distribution is awarded, which is why it can become a very intricate part of the final outcome of any divorce. Keeping this in mind, if you and your spouse are unable to reach and agreement on this issue, the Superior Court will order support from one spouse to the other on a case-by-case basis as follows:

Any spouse may be awarded alimony as long as he or she is not guilty of desertion or adultery. These other factors are also considered when the parties are not able to agree on an amount; 1. the participation each party had to the marital estate; 2. the duration of the marriage; 3. the future earning capacity and financial resources of each party; 4. the age and medical condition of each party; 5. the future earning capacity of each party; 6. the value of each party’s separate property; 7. the standard of living sustained during the marriage; 8. rehabilitative time one party may need to gain employment. (Georgia Code – Sections: 19-5-5)

SOURCE FOR POST: DivorceSupport.com

Georgia Divorce Laws

Dreamstime_1802284 The increase in divorce has its effect, directly or indirectly, on virtually every family in the country. The following information is designed to summarize briefly Georgia’s divorce laws.

Marriage is a civil contract which the state has an interest in preserving. Accordingly, the marriage relationship can be dissolved only as provided by law, by either a divorce or an annulment. It also may be altered by a decree of separation granted by our courts. In any case, there must be a proceeding in the Superior Court of the county in which the person seeking the divorce, separation decree or annulment must prove "grounds" (valid reasons prescribed by law).

What are the grounds for divorce in Georgia?

In Georgia there are 13 grounds for divorce. One ground is "irretrievably broken" (sometimes referred to as the "no-fault" ground). The other 12 grounds for divorce in Georgia are "fault" grounds.

What is a "no-fault" divorce?

To obtain a divorce on this basis (irretrievably broken), one party must establish that he or she refuses to live with the other spouse and that there is no hope of reconciliation. It is not necessary to show that there was any fault or wrongdoing by either party.

What are the "fault" grounds?

To obtain a divorce on one of the 12 "fault" grounds, one must prove that there was some wrongdoing by one of the parties to the marriage.

As an example, one fault ground is adultery. Adultery in Georgia includes heterosexual and homosexual relations between one spouse and another individual.

Another "fault" ground for divorce in Georgia is desertion. A divorce may be granted on the grounds that a person has deserted his or her spouse willfully for at least a year. Other "fault" grounds include mental or physical cruel treatment, marriage between persons who are too closely related, mental incapacity at the time of marriage, impotency at the time of marriage, force or fraud in obtaining the marriage, pregnancy of the wife unknown to the husband at the time of the marriage, conviction and imprisonment for certain crimes, habitual intoxication or drug addiction, and mental illness.

Is there a residence requirement for getting a divorce in Georgia?

Yes, one spouse must have lived in the state of Georgia for six months or Georgia must have been the last domicile of the marriage.

Must the husband and wife live apart when a divorce complaint is filed?

No, but the spouses must be considered separated in a legal sense before one can file for a divorce. Spouses may be considered separated even if they are living in the same house, if they are not sharing the same room and/or not having a sexual relationship.

How does one file for a divorce?

The person seeking the divorce (the plaintiff) will file a document called a "complaint" with the appropriate Superior Court. This complaint includes information on the marriage including present living arrangements, children of the marriage, assets, debts, and the specific reason claimed for seeking a divorce. A copy of the complaint will be served on the other spouse (the defendant) by the sheriff.

Where does one file for a divorce?

A complaint for divorce should be filed in the Superior Court of the defendant’s county of residence or, if the defendant has recently moved from the state of Georgia, in the county of the plaintiff’s residence. This would be considered the domicile of the marriage. Upon the defendant’s consent, the complaint may be filed in the plaintiff’s county of residence regardless of whether the defendant has moved from the state of Georgia or not.

What should I do if I receive a complaint for divorce that my spouse has filed?

The spouse who receives the complaint should promptly consult a lawyer. The spouse may contest the reason claimed for the divorce or contest the claims for child custody, child support, alimony or property division by filing an answer with the court. If an answer is not filed within 30 days, the right to contest the complaint may be lost.

Is there a way to live apart without getting a divorce?

A party who wishes to live apart permanently, but who does not want to get a divorce, may file a "separate maintenance" action. The spouses will remain legally married although living apart. The court may order that alimony be paid by one spouse to the other and the court may divide property between the parties.

What is an annulment?

Unlike a divorce, which dissolves a valid marriage, an annulment is a legal decree that the marriage is now void and was invalid from its inception. If there are children born of the marriage, an annulment may not be granted and the marriage may only be dissolved by divorce.

Must I go to court to get a divorce?

Not necessarily. Spouses may be able to reach an agreement resolving all issues arising from the marriage, including finances, division of property and custody and visitation of children. The agreement is presented to the court as a settlement agreement and, upon approval, made an order of the court. The court’s order, called a final judgment and decree, concludes the lawsuit. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, a judge or jury will resolve the issues. However, a judge always decides matters of child custody and visitation.

How long does it take to get a divorce?

If there is agreement between the parties, the divorce is considered uncontested. An uncontested divorce may be granted 31 days after the defendant has been served with the complaint for divorce. If there is disagreement as to any matter, the divorce will be obtained when the case reaches the court, which can take many months.

What happens while I wait to go to court?

Either of the spouses may request a temporary hearing. This hearing is not a final trial. A temporary hearing resolves the issues of child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, debts and possession of property on a temporary basis until the final trial. The judge will issue a temporary order that applies only until the time of the final trial. The temporary order may also prohibit one party from interfering with the other party or the children and prevent the transfer and selling of assets.

What is decided at final trial?

Questions of child custody and visitation are decided by the judge. The judge alone or a 12-person jury (if one of the parties has requested) will resolve all of the financial issues of the marriage, such as division of property, division of debts, alimony and certain findings concerning child support (gross income of both parties and whether any deviations from teh presumptive amount of child support are in the best interests of the child, and if so, what those deviations should be). At the final trial, both spouses present evidence by their own testimony and may call other witnesses. The decision rendered by a judge or jury is written into a court order that is binding upon both parties. The wife’s maiden or former name can be re-established if she so desires.

What about the children?

The welfare of children is of major concern to the court. Neither parent is automatically entitled to custody. The judge looks at the best interests of the child when determining  custody. The judge considers many factors when deciding custody, including the age and sex of the child, compatibility with each parent and the ability of each parent to care for and nurture the child. A child more than 14 years of age can choose which parent will have custody upon the consent of the court. The court considers it important for a child to maintain relationships with both parents; therefore, visitation rights are awarded to the parent who is not given legal custody of the child.

May the parents share custody?

The court, in its discretion, can award joint custody instead of sole custody. There are two types of joint custody. Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child; joint physical custody means that physical custody is shared by the parents in such a way to assure the child substantially equal time and contact with both parents. In awarding joint custody, the court may order joint legal custody, joint physical custody or both.

What are child support obligations?

The child support law in Georgia changed effective Jan. 1, 2007. The new law is based on an "income shares" model that requires consideration of both parties’ gross income. "Gross income" has a very broad definition and encompasses salary, commissions, income from self-employment, bonuses, overtime payments, severance pay, recurring income from pensions, interest and divident income, trust income, capital gains, gifts, prizes, lottery winnings and income from any other source. Once the monthly gross income of each party is determined, the two incomes are added together to get the combined ajusted income amount. A Child Support Obligation Table is then used to get the Basic Child Support Obligation. To use the table, locate the line corresponding with the combined adjusted income amount and then apply the amount in the column that corresponds with the number of children for whom support is being determined. That Basic Child Support Obligation is then applied to each parent’s proportionate share of the combined adjusted incom
e.

(For example, if the father’s monthly gross income is $3,000 and the mother’s montly gross income is $2,000, their combined adjusted income is $5,000, of which the mother’s income represents 40 percent and the father’s income represents 60 percent. The child support obligation for a family with combined adjusted income of $5,000 per month for two children is $1,297. Thus, if the father is the noncustodial parent, he will pay 60 percent of the child support obligation, $778.20, or if the mother is the noncustodial parent, she will pay $518.80, which is 40 percent of the child support obligation.)

The cost of medical insurance on the child and the cost of work-related childcare will result in the amount of the child support payment being modified with credit being given to the parent who is actually paying these expenses. In addition, the amount of child support may be modified by certain deviations provided it is in the best interest of the child to deviate from the presumptive amount of child support. Examples of deviations may be extraordinary education expenses like private school tuition or tutoring; extraordinary medical expenses; or special expenses which must exceed 7 percent of the basic child support obligation, such as extracurricular expenses, sumer camps, dental insurance, parenting time adjustment or any other appropriate deviation. You can access the guided electronic worksheet used in calculating child support at www.georgiacourts.org/csc. You may also download an Excel version of the worksheet through this same website.

In addition to the child support payment, the court (or parties by agreement) will also designate what percentage each parent will pay of the child’s uncovered medical and dental expenses.

In Georgia, both parents have a duty to financially support the child until that child turns 18, marries, dies or becomes emancipated, whichever occurs first. However, if the child has not graduated from high school prior to reaching age 18, then the obligation to support that child continues until the child graduates from high school provided the child remains a full-time student, but not beyond the age of 20.

May I receive money for the children’s college?

The court cannot order parents to pay for college. However, parents may agree to pay child support beyond the age of 18 or to pay for college expenses.

What is alimony?

Alimony is payment by one spouse to the other for support and maintenance. The court may grant alimony to either the husband or the wife. Alimony may be for a limited period or until the spouse receiving alimony dies or remarries. It may be paid in one payment of money or property, or it may be paid over a period of time.

What happens to "our" possessions in a divorce?

One of the most difficult and complex areas of divorce is the division of marital property. Marital property is all property acquired during the marriage, except for property received by gift from a third party or by inheritance. Each spouse is entitled to an equitable share of all marital property acquired during the marriage. The judge or jury will decide on the division of marital property. Marital property will be divided equitably (not necessarily equally) between the parties regardless of how the title to the property is held. There is no set formula or percentage amount used to divide marital property.

How will the court order be enforced?

The court order can be enforced by garnishment or a contempt action. A contempt action is filed in the same court that issued the divorce. In addition, support orders can be enforced through the district attorney’s office if the non-paying spouse resides out of town.

If my spouse and I agree on all matters pertaining to getting a divorce, do we still need a lawyer?

A lawyer will ensure that all matters that should be resolved in a divorce are resolved. Acting without a lawyer could end up being a costly mistake both to the parties and to their children.

What do I do if I am the victim of family violence?

Georgia has a law protecting victims of family violence. The parties do not have to be married in order for a victim to ask the court for relief. However, the parties have to reside in the same household. A victim of family violence can file a petition with the Superior Court that family violence has occurred in the past and may occur in the future. The court can issue a temporary order granting a variety of remedies, including eviction of the offending party from the residence or providing suitable alternate housing for the victim and children, as well as financial relief.

The victim does not need a lawyer to file a Family Violence Petition. The clerk of the Superior Court in the victim’s residing county may provide forms for the Petition or be able to direct a victim to a family violence shelter or social service agency for direction.

SOURCE: State Bar of Georgia

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Alimony

AlimonyAlimony is a payment from the higher income spouse to the lower income spouse after divorce.  The law regarding alimony has a number of quirks you may not be aware.  Here is a list of 5 things it is likely you didn’t know about alimony:

1.  If your ex-spouse has a sex change, you still have to pay alimony, at least in Florida.  This is despite the fact that alimony could not be payable to a same sex partner.

2.  If your ex-spouse enters a registered domestic partnership with someone of the same sex, you still have to pay alimony, at least in California and also in Oregon (but not Virginia).  This is despite the fact that alimony would end if your ex had remarried.

3.  Even if your ex-spouse tries to kill you, you can’t end alimony if you have a non-modifiable alimony clause in your divorce decree, at least in Missouri.  That being said, even if this had happened prior to alimony being determined, in many states fault is not considered when making determinations of alimony.

4.  Men are entitled to receive alimony.  More and more men are pursuing this option.  And women are just as happy about paying alimony as men are.

5.  Determining the amount and length of alimony is somewhat of a black art and well worth speaking to a lawyer about.  Although the exact factors considered differ from state to state, generally a court considers your and your ex-spouse’s financial situations, career paths, ages, roles during the marriage and health.  However, determinations are very fact specific.

SOURCE: Divorce Zone