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Cherokee County Divorce Law Blog

Beneficiary designations supersede the terms of a will

Georgia residents may not know the ramifications of failing to change beneficiary designations after a divorce. Revising a will to disinherit a former spouse will not affect beneficiary designations on most policies.

After a divorce, the named beneficiary on a life insurance policy, a retirement account, a bank account or any other such instrument will often inherit the proceeds of the instrument even when those results contradict a will. While Georgia is unique in its law that prohibits a divorced party from inheriting under a will unless the will specifically permits it, Georgia does not have a law that has the same effect when an individual dies leaving an ex-spouse as the beneficiary on a life insurance policy or other similar instrument. Many such policies are not assets that pass through probate, so the will has no effect on the beneficiary designation.

Social media and the service of process

Georgia residents may be interested to learn about two recent New York decisions in which courts allowed people to serve respondents in their family law matters via Facebook. While no Georgia court has yet allowed service in this manner, many attorneys and other observers expect that such service methods may become increasingly accepted in jurisdictions throughout the country.

Participation in Facebook and other social media sites has become pervasive. In some cases, people who are difficult to otherwise locate are active participants on such sites, and in the two New York cases, the judges ruled that service could be effected through Facebook's messaging platform.

Alimony's effect on personal income taxes

Georgia residents who are dealing with divorce may wish to learn more about how alimony can affect income taxes. According to the IRS, alimony is any money paid to a spouse or former spouse as part of a court order during divorce or separation. Any money that is paid without legal obligation is not considered to be alimony for tax purposes. Furthermore, it does not matter if the alimony is to be paid on a permanent basis or included in a temporary decree., and it may be possible to claim payments to a third party as alimony.

Typically, alimony must be included as income by the person who receives it and may be deducted on the income tax return of the person paying it. There may be times when an individual can only deduct half of any alimony payment. For example, this is true when an individual is required to make mortgage payments or pay property taxes and insurance on a jointly owned home.

Claiming Social Security benefits after divorce in Georiga

In some cases, if a spouse hasn't worked long enough to claim their own benefits or if their spouse is entitled to greater benefits, they may want to claim their spouse's Social Security benefits. However, if a couple divorces, this may not always be possible. In some situations, however, there are exceptions.

The determining factor determining if someone is going to be able to claim spousal or survivor's Social Security benefits is usually the length of the marriage. If a marriage lasted at least 10 years, individuals should still be able to collect spousal benefits. However, if someone is caring for a child under the age of 16 or a child with a disability, they may still collect survivor's benefits if the marriage did not last a decade.

Illness in wife could lead to divorce

Georgia residents might be interested to learn about a study examining the relationship between divorce and illness. Researchers at Iowa State University determined that couples with a seriously ill wife were more likely to get a divorce than couples with a seriously ill husband. However, no information was available about whether it was the husband or the wife who usually initiated the divorce.

Data for the study was gathered from 2,701 married couples that were surveyed between 1992 and 2010 in the Health and Retirement Study. Researchers examined the onset of cancer, lung disease, stroke and heart problems in the marriages and then looked at whether or not the spouses divorced later on. The onset of illness in the wife was found to increase the chances of a marriage ending in divorce by 6 percent, while the onset of illness in the husband had no measureable impact on the potential for divorce.

Factors involved in grandparent custody

Some grandparents in Georgia might be interested in obtaining custody of their grandchildren. This depends on the specific situation and, in some cases, the grandchild's preference. However, if the child's parents challenge the request, the courts may consider their right to custody as superior to that of the grandparents.

Sometimes, parents and grandparents enter into a voluntary arrangement giving the grandparents custody. Problems with custody issues can occur when the parents challenge that agreement. In such cases, both the grandparents and the parents are required to show why the child's best interests might be better served if the child remained in their care. In the case where the child was in the care of the grandparents for a considerable time and considered them as primary caregivers, the grandparents' right to custody may supersede that of the parents. In addition, parents who have not maintained a relationship with their child may have less of an argument against grandparent custody.

Artworks and art supplies may be divided during a divorce

Georgia residents who are artists may be surprised to learn that any pieces they have, whether in storage, hanging on a wall or on consignment in a gallery, are considered marital property and are eligible for property division during a divorce. Additionally, any tools they used to create their art may also fall into this category, similar to the way that copyrights are also considered to be joint property held by both individuals.

Artists who are going through a divorce should make take a complete inventory of their works, including those that were sold before and after the marriage. When a painting was created and when it was sold may determine whether it is or is not considered marital property.

Lower divorce rates among medical professionals, study shows

Georgia doctors, dentists, pharmacists and others working in the health care field may have lower divorce rates than the general public despite the stresses of the profession. This was the conclusion of a study that was recently published, and it will likely surprise many people who thought otherwise.

Researchers found that while 35 percent of people who were surveyed and who did not work in the health care industry were divorced, only 23 percent of pharmacists, 24 percent of doctors and 25 percent of dentists reported having that status. In addition, 31 percent of hospital administrators and 33 percent of nurses that were surveyed were divorced. According to the study's senior author, there is some conventional wisdom that doctors tend to have higher divorce rates than the general public, but this is the first large-scale study that has investigated whether this is true. The study surveyed 200,000 medical professionals along with more than 40,000 doctors as well as people in other lines of work.

Georgia custody disputes may be resolvable without court

In Georgia and other states, parents and guardians who become involved in custody disputes may be able to avoid going to court. While formal judicial resolution can provide useful resources for families during their battles, court cases are only one way to settle such arguments. Parents can also devise unique parenting agreements that set the terms of future interactions with their ex-spouses and children. These documents are commonly filed along with divorce paperwork, and they become legally binding after gaining official approval from a judge.

According to legal advisors, parenting agreements should address certain specifics. Though these compromises are dependent on the circumstances of each case, issues like physical custody of a child, parent visitation schedules and contact with relatives and third parties are all commonly included. Parents may also want to consider deciding where their children will spend time during significant events like birthdays and holidays. Those who draft vacation and custody schedules in advance can incorporate such details into their agreements.

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