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Cherokee County Divorce Law Blog

Understanding the current divorce rate

Residents in Georgia may be surprised to hear that the national divorce statistics may not be on the rapid increase that have many grown to expect. Despite widespread public perception, recent studies suggest that the divorce rate is not as high as 50 percent and is not increasing as many have been led to believe. New statistics show that the high divorce rate realized during the late '70s and early '80s were more akin to outliers than long lasting trends.

Data shows that approximately 70 percent of the marriages started in the 1990s are approaching their 15th anniversary. During the 1970s and 1980s, only 65 percent of the marriages lasted that long. In addition, couples that married during the 2000s are divorcing at even lower rates. Economists believe that the feminist movement of the q970s contributed to the current declining rates. Modern marriages are now based more on sustaining comparable incomes, mutual interests, love and shared household duties.

What is the Hague Convention?

Prospective adoptive parents in Georgia may be interested to learn about the Hague Convention. Each country creates its own laws and standards in regard to the protection of children. However, the statutes of individual countries are not sufficient to protect the interests of children who are adopted internationally.

The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption establishes standards for international adoptions with the goal of safeguarding intercountry adoptions. The Convention focuses on working to ensure that an international adoption is in a child's best interests. In addition, the Convention seeks to prevent the trafficking, sale of or abduction of children.

Understanding and avoiding adoption fraud

The adoption process can be delicate and emotional. Adding to the difficulties that are already present during such proceedings, some prospective parents may fall victim to adoption fraud. Families in Georgia considering an adoption may benefit from recognizing warning signs of such fraud.

Adoption fraud is defined as any intentional wrongful misrepresentation or illegal action taken by someone involved in the adoption process while seeking financial gain. Also known as wrongful adoption, the birth mother, the adoption agency or the prospective adoptive parents can perpetuate this type of fraud. Adoption fraud includes such actions as an agency charging too much for the process and a birth mother taking money from more than one family for medical bills, payment of housing and other expenses. Other examples include a woman who is not pregnant posing as a birthmother while requesting payment of expenses, someone trying to sell a baby online, and adoptive couples who promise to adopt a baby and disappear once the adoption process is complete.

The arguments for and against same-sex marriage

Many Georgia residents hold strong views both in favor of and against same-sex marriage. While some hold these opinions based on religious or moral beliefs, others see same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue. Passions run high on both sides of the argument, and the issue has featured prominently in recent years on ballot initiatives and in the courts.

The civil rights argument is based on the principle that all people should be treated equally under the law. This argument largely deals with the legal and financial benefits of marriage unavailable to same-sex couples who have been denied the right to marry. Such benefits include the ability to file joint income tax returns and qualify for benefits under a partners health insurance coverage or pension plan. Civil unions are supported by some as a way of providing these benefits to same-sex couples who are unable to marry.

How is child support determined?

Divorce or separation may be a difficult prospect in any situation, but when children are involved, the scenario can become much more complex. Child support laws can vary by state, but in Georgia, both parents' incomes are considered when the court is deciding the amount to be paid. The courts may also look at severance pay, pensions, lottery winnings and bonuses, among other financial considerations.

When determining child support obligations, both parents' monthly gross incomes are added together to form the combined adjusted income amount. Once this amount is reached, it is compared to the Child Support Obligation Table. This table takes into account the combined income as well as the number of children involved. The chart then provides a specific amount that is necessary for the monthly care of a child.

Child custody in Georgia

Parents and guardians in Georgia may benefit from learning more about how the state handles child custody issues. Noncustodial parents who are interested in obtaining custody of their children are required to file a petition for a custody change with the Superior Court that presides over the custodial parent's residing county. At the hearing, noncustodial parents are required to exhibit material proof of a significant change in circumstance that directly affects family life and the child's best interests.

Custodial parents who have been scheduled for military deployment are expected to arrange any temporary changes or modifications to their parenting plan as soon as possible. In regards to grandparents obtaining visitation or custody rights, family courts typically consider birth parents' rights first. If either parent is willing to care for the child and is deemed competent to do so, a judge may be compelled to grant them custody before any grandparent.

Is support offered to adoptive parents?

The state of Georgia offers assistance in certain adoption cases where it considers the child to have special needs. This includes any child who has any physical, emotional or mental disability, which a licensed psychologist or physician must validate. The definition also includes any child who has been in the custody of anybody other than the biological or legal parents for more than two full consecutive years.

Another special needs case that qualifies for adoption assistance involves biological siblings. As an illustration, if one family cares for a set of two or more siblings, the state may allow that family to receive assistance in one form or another. This is to encourage adoptive parents to keep siblings together and compensate them for doing so.

How does the court determine parenting time?

Every couple that divorces in Georgia and has children must develop a parenting plan. Within this document, the parents must acknowledge that it is in the best interest of the child to have a relationship with both of them. The parents will also acknowledge that the needs of the child may change as the child gets older. The plan stipulates that the parent with physical custody will make day-to-day decisions about the child.

A parenting plan will spell out when each parent will have custody of the child during weekends, holidays or school vacations. In addition to stipulating when the child will be in a certain parent's custody, it will also determine when visitation will begin and end. Details regarding how the child will be transferred between parents and where the child will stay will be determined by the terms of the parenting plan.

Grounds for divorce in Georgia

In Georgia, marriage is a legally-binding contract that can only be dissolved through the courts. Couples who believe that their marriage is irretrievably broken may file for a no-fault divorce. With this option, there is no need to show wrongdoing on the part of either party. The only requirement is that one spouse must establish that he or she will no longer reside with the other party and that there is no hope of reconciliation.

There are other instances where one party may want to establish that the other is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage. Georgia recognizes twelve different fault grounds. These include mental abuse, physical abuse, mental incapacity at the time of marriage, impotency at the time of marriage, marriage under fraudulent pretenses, addictions and mental illness. The conviction and imprisonment of one of the spouses for certain crimes is also included.

State of Georgia uses formula to determine child support needs

There are a number of different things to take into account when a Georgia couple wishes to end a marriage, particularly how any and all children shared by the spouses will be cared for into the future. One of the most difficult parts of the entire divorce process comes when one party is asked to meet certain child support obligations with the other.

As of 2007, Georgia laws regarding child support obligations underwent several changes. The primary difference in the new law as opposed to older models includes consideration of both parties' income levels when determining child support payment orders and amounts. Gross income, or totals for all income earned, for each party is now averaged together to come up with one final amount.

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