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Cherokee County Divorce Law Blog

Divorce and alimony payments

Some divorces in Georgia involve court-ordered alimony that is paid monthly or in a lump sum. While some people view alimony as unfair to the paying spouse, others see that alimony can be necessary when one spouse earns far less income than the other spouse.

Courts consider many different factors when determining whether a spouse will be required to make alimony payments after a divorce. Judges look at the incomes of both spouses to determine whether the higher-earning spouse can afford to make payments and whether the lower-earning spouse needs financial support. The length of the marriage will be a factor as will the age and health of the recipient spouse.

Stealth spending tearing U.S. marriages apart

A type of infidelity is tearing American marriages apart, but it may not be a kind of cheating Georgia readers are familiar with. It's known as financial infidelity, and studies have found that it is creeping into many U.S. marriages.

Financial infidelity, also known as stealth spending, occurs when one spouse hides financial information from their partner. surveyed 843 people in random telephone interviews and found that around 20 percent of spouses feel it's okay to spend $500 without telling their partner. Another 6 percent of spouses have hidden bank accounts that their partner knows nothing about.

Georgia divorces between older couples

Although divorce rates are dropping in most age groups, that isn't the case for those over the age of 50. In 2014, the divorce rate among couples over the age of 50 was double what it was in 1990, according to research from Bowling Green University. Some believe that this is because most people over the age of 50 are in their second marriages.

Those who are in their second marriages are more than twice as likely to get divorced compared to those who hadn't divorced in the past. Other reasons include increased lifespans and better finances compared to younger Americans. Today, an individual who is 50 years old may have another 30 years to live, which may cause that person to contemplate if they want to stay in a marriage that may not be satisfying anymore.

Saving a business in divorce

When Georgia entrepreneurs have successful businesses and also want to divorce, they sometimes stay in their marriages due to a fear of losing the businesses. There are steps people can take to protect their companies from being divided in the divorce process.

Business owners should begin by getting a clear picture of their plan, which involves valuing their assets and their businesses. A part of this process should include updating the company's records and making sure to reconcile the accounts. They should then consider whether they want to remain running the business after they divorce. If they do, they should think about whether they are the sole owner of the business or if their spouse owns part of it as well.

IRS to recognize same-sex marriages in all 50 states

On Oct. 21, the IRS announced that it will recognize same-sex marriages for tax purposes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. That could impact same-sex couples living in Georgia and the 12 other states that had not yet legalized marriage equality when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned same-sex marriage bans in June 2015.

The U.S. Treasury said it will now "interpret the terms 'husband' and 'wife' to include same-sex spouses." Before the Supreme Court ruling, the government only accepted tax returns from married same-sex couples living in the jurisdictions that legalized the unions. The new regulations will apply to any federal tax provisions that involve marriage, including filing status, standard deductions, and personal and dependency exemptions. One of the biggest changes will be for same-sex couples who are both on one spouse's employer-provided health insurance plan. This insurance was previously taxed as income to the non-employee spouse, but it will now be tax-free like it is for opposite-sex spouses.

Steps in the divorce mediation process

Many Georgia couples are not aware of their options when they decide to end their marriage. Mediation is one method that may help divorcing spouses avoid courtroom litigation. It is a confidential dispute resolution process in which a neutral and trained third party attempts to facilitate communication between the spouses with the goal of reaching an agreement.

The first step in the mediation process will usually be a consultation. Both spouses will meet with the mediator individually. This is a chance for each spouse to discuss the mediator's qualifications and ask questions about the process to make sure that both spouses feel comfortable with their choice of mediator.

Family courts struggle to discern parental rights of rapists

Family court judges in Georgia consider many details when settling disputes between parents about child support, custody and visitation. When the father is a rapist or alleged rapist, however, the issues become even more challenging, and laws often lack guidance about parental rights for children conceived by rape.

For example, when a court required a convicted rapist to pay child support after the 14-year-old girl he assaulted gave birth, he asserted his parental rights and asked for visitation. He offered to drop his demand if the order to pay child support was lifted. In another case, a rapist awaiting trial refused to sign off on the woman's desire to place her baby for adoption unless she declined to testify against him in court. The law had required that she get the father's signature for the adoption without any regard to her accusation that he had raped her.

How a divorce attorney can help

Going through a divorce in Georgia is usually not a simple process. For most divorcing spouses, sorting out child custody and property division issues is not possible without representation from a family law attorney. However, there are some people who decide to represent themselves during a divorce.

Getting divorced without an attorney usually only works for spouses who had a short marriage with no children or significant financial assets. For the divorce to be resolved, both spouses would have to be committed to sorting through issues amicably and have no need for alimony. However, if one spouse decides to hire an attorney during the process, the self-represented spouse would immediately be at a disadvantage.

Don't overlook finances during divorce

Georgia residents know that divorce is almost always a difficult and emotional time. Many important issues must be dealt with, including new living arrangements, custody agreements if there are children involved and feelings of uncertainty about the future. With all the turmoil, it can be easy to overlook something like finances. However, careful financial planning is an essential part of building a new life after divorce.

Many financial arrangements can be handled through a divorce settlement agreement. While some couples are able to amicably divide their marital property on their own, many spouses find it helpful to consult with an attorney when dividing assets. After receiving an overview of the financial picture, including all assets and debts, an attorney could help negotiate alimony and child support payments that are best under the circumstances. Legal counsel could also make recommendations on how to divide real estate and investments.

Child before marriage doesn't lead to divorce

Unmarried couples in Georgia who are thinking about having a baby may find it comforting to know that they are at no more risk of divorce than those who marry before having a baby, according to a new study. The research was conducted by the nonprofit Council on Contemporary Families.

The authors of the study examined data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to compare the divorce rates of those women who had their first baby between 1985 and 1995 with those who had their first child between 1997 and 2010. They discovered that couples who had a baby before getting married during the earlier time period were 60 percent more likely to see their marriage end up in a divorce than couples who got married first. However, couples who had a child during the later period had an equal chance of divorcing, regardless of in which order the events occurred. Researchers also found that the percentage of couples who had a child before getting married increased from 17 percent to 35 percent between 1985 and 2010.

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