What types of Family Violence Protection Orders are available in Georgia?

In Georgia, there are two types of Family Violence Protection Orders:

  • Temporary Ex Parte Orders
  • Family Violence Protection Orders

A Temporary Ex Parte Order is designed to protect you until the court hearing you must have for a Family Violence Protection Order. You can receive a temporary order without a court hearing, and without your abuser’s knowledge. ("Ex parte" means without your abuser present).

A judge will grant the temporary order only if she or he believes that you are in immediate danger. Temporary orders last up to 30 days, or until your court hearing if it is being heard in another county in the same circuit. They can be extended beyond 30 days by agreement with both parties. This is called a consent order.

A Family Violence Protection Order can be issued after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to tell your sides of the story. Family Violence Protection Orders last up to one year, but can be extended for up to three years, or permanently.

SOURCE: WomensLaw.org

What is the legal definition in Georgia of family violence?

In general, if a family or household member hurts you or tries to hurt you (with or without using a weapon) or gives you reason to believe that they are going to hurt you in the near future, that person has committed an act of family violence. For the purposes of getting a protective order, you must have a specific relationship with your abuser.

This type of behavior is illegal, and there are laws to protect you.

"Family violence" includes:

  • Rape
  • Hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping
  • Stalking
  • Criminal damage to property
  • Restraint against your will
  • Criminal trespass
  • Unwanted touching, forcing you to take part in sexual acts against your will
  • Threats of violence
  • Other felonies

Family violence does not include "reasonable discipline" by a parent to a child in corporal punishment, restraint or detention.

SOURCE: WomensLaw.org

Family Violence in Georgia: A quick overview of the legal system

The legal system is divided into two areas: civil law and criminal law. Superior courts and State courts usually administrate these two areas of the law in different court sessions.

Civil law covers disputes between two people. In a civil domestic violence action, you are asking the court to protect you from the person abusing you. You are not asking the court to punish that person for committing a crime. The protective orders discussed on this page are handled in civil court.

The criminal law system handles all cases that involve violations of criminal law such as harassment, assault, murder, theft, etc. A criminal complaint involves charging your abuser with a crime. If criminal charges are filed, the case will be in the hands of the prosecutor.

You may want to pursue both civil and criminal action against your abuser.

SOURCE: WomensLaw.org

Do’s and Don’ts of Divorce

Bankrate.com suggests the following financial and emotional do’s and don’ts to help achieve a smoother divorce:

  • DO consult with a lawyer. It’s a good idea, especially if you have children or assets. Experts say when looking for an attorney, you should ask people you trust for recommendations, and don’t cut corners when it comes to good, solid legal help. If you intend to hire a lawyer, start putting aside money for your legal costs, so you can pay the upfront retainer fee often required. The lawyer’s hourly rate is billed against the retainer. "To try to navigate without a lawyer would be like trying to do your own open heart surgery," says John Finnerty, a certified matrimonial attorney and chairman of Finnerty & Sherwood in Fair Lawn, N.J.
  • DO make copies. Photocopy every important, relevant document from the last three years of your marriage. This includes tax returns, mortgage payments, bank statements, pay stubs, stock certificates and bonds – to supply your lawyer or mediator.
  • DO steer clear of damaging credit problems. Cancel joint credit cards. Experts say if your credit card accounts are in both you and your spouse’s names, and they remain open, you are still responsible for any charges made by your spouse. If charges go unpaid, they can end up on your credit report. Get credit cards and accounts in your own name to build your own credit.
  • DO make sure you’re covered. Medical insurance coverage can end in divorce. If you are on your husband’s insurance plan, you should be able to continue coverage for up to 36 months under the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Under this plan you pay the premiums, which may be expensive.
  • DO take a home and asset inventory. This will better clarify what exactly needs to be divided. Susan Goldstein, family law attorney and co-author with Valerie Colb of "The Smart Divorce: A Practical Guide to the 200 Things You Must Know," advises you to write down everything you know about your assets and debts, and record the persons who can be witnesses. It’s good for people to compile lists. You can’t bring your lawyer too much information, Goldstein says.  Also consider taking pictures or videos of your home and contents and making copies of family photographs you want to keep. "Family photographs are often a major point of contention," she says.
  • DO think about tax consequences. For instance, if a stock is valued at $3,000, it may only be worth $2,600 in cash after capital gains taxes are paid. Thus, it would not be the same as receiving $3,000 cash in a divorce settlement. "If couples are trying to provide each with similar amounts of spendable money, they must consider the costs of converting certain assets into cash before deciding how to divide items," cautions Margorie Engel, author, president and CEO of Stepfamily Association of America.
  • DO choose your assets carefully. When staking a claim in assets, remember that choosing the wrong assets may end up costing you money, instead of making you money. If you want to keep the house, for instance, first educate yourself about the fair market value of your home, says Goldstein. Remember that you’ll have to make the mortgage payments and pay taxes, interest, insurance, utilities and maintenance extras. Selling it won’t be a picnic, either: The brokerage costs and taxes from the sale will be solely your responsibility.
  • DO line up your own emotional support. Choose friends you can trust, because you never know who may end up turning on you or even testifying against you later. Consulting with a counselor can keep you thinking clearly in order to focus on your divorce plan. If you anticipate a child custody fight, you may want to take your child to a therapist before it starts. Randy Rolfe, author of "The Seven Secrets of Successful Parents," states that when you have counseling, you’ll be less likely to give up and give over things in the divorce.

Experts also recommend that you remain practical — legally and emotionally — when planning your divorce. There some things you should never do:

  • Don’t skimp on legal help.
  • Don’t just move out of your home. Unless you fear physical harm, talk to your lawyer before you make your move.
  • Don’t try to do it all. Some cases do need experts like accountants, appraisers, etc. Thinking you can do these things on your own can be counterproductive.
  • Don’t share a lawyer with your spouse. This scenario presents a huge conflict of interest. Most lawyers won’t do it, and it could borderline on malpractice.
  • Don’t make revenge the goal of the divorce.
  • Don’t compare your divorce to another divorce. Each case has its own set of facts, with its own personality.
  • Don’t bad-mouth your spouse to your children. It can backfire on you in ways you don’t expect.
  • Don’t just think about your actions, but also consider the impact they can have in a case. For example, don’t write a letter you would mind being read in a courtroom.

A divorce will affect you legally, financially and emotionally. Although deciding to divorce isn’t easy, taking the time to incorporate these do’s and don’ts can make the process — and its financial and emotional consequences — as uncomplicated as possible.

Source:  "The Do’s and Don’ts of Getting Divorced" by Leah Gliniewicz, published at Bankrate.com.
SOURCE FOR POST: South Carolina Family Law Blog

Georgia’s New Income Shares Child Support Guidelines

The new Georgia child support guidelines become effective January 1, 2007, and apply to all pending civil actions on or after January 1, 2007. Under the new guidelines, there are several steps that are used to arrive at a child support obligation. First, the gross income of both the mother and the father is determined. This income includes amounts from all non-exempt sources and includes: salary, wages, commissions, self-employed income, bonuses, overtime pay, severance pay, pension and retirement income, interest income, dividend income, trust income annuity income, capital gains, Social Security disability payments, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, judgments from personal injury claims or other civil cases, gifts, prizes, alimony from persons not in the subject case, assets which are used for support of family, fringe benefits that significantly reduce living expenses, and any other income including imputed income. Variable income such as commissions or bonuses must be averaged over a reasonable period of time.

After the gross income of both the mother and father is determined, the income may be adjusted in three ways. If there is self-employed income, there is a reduction for one-half of the self-employment taxes being paid. Secondly, if either parent is paying child support under a preexisting child support order, the monthly gross income of such parent is reduced by the amount of monthly support such parent has been actually paying. Finally, if either parent is supporting his or her own children living in the home, but who are not the subject of this child support determination, the court in its discretion may reduce the gross income after calculating a theoretical child support order. This final adjustment will be difficult to obtain since the court must find the failure to do so would cause a financial hardship on the parent and that such adjustment is in the best interest of the child in the case at hand.

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