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Gainesville Legal Issues Blog

Domestic violence has profound impact on children

Domestic violence is one of these things that people rarely talk about. It is often hidden behind closed doors and victims are often afraid to speak out for fear of being left by their significant other, being abused further, or subjecting their children to additional traumatic experiences. However, it is for these reasons that those who are in an abusive relationship need to think about the best way to end their marriage so that they can ensure their safety, future well-being and future financial security.

If that isn't enough reason to spur one to consider marriage dissolution, then perhaps consideration of the effect of domestic violence on children will. Domestic violence can have a profound impact on children both short and long-term. In the short-term, children who witness domestic violence may develop generalized anxiety, increased aggression, concern for the well-being of their parents and trouble concentrating on daily tasks.

Why do courts focus on the "best interests of the child"?

While there may seem to be countless decisions to be made during the process of a divorce, such as property division and alimony or spousal support, when there are children involved from the marriage, the decisions may be even more complicated. The courts will need to look at the family and make decisions regarding child support and child custody, which may also affect other decisions that are made.

During this process, it is not uncommon to hear about the courts and their efforts to protect "the best interests of the child." What does this mean and how is this determined? In order to minimize the potential impact a divorce may have on a child, the courts will look at the relationship between the child or children and each parent.

Overview of Georgia's child support guidelines

Like many other states, Georgia has child support guidelines so that courts can, hopeful, fairly and uniformly order child support so that parents who have to pay, or who will receive, child support feel that they are being treated equally. While not every child support case is exactly the same as another, having a uniform process still, hopefully, increases confidence in the judicial system.

Again like other states, Georgia's guidelines rely on what is basically an "income shares" model, which means the formula involves using the parents' combined income to determine the total amount of child support, and then apportioning the support obligation according to what share of the total income each parent makes.

Health insurance uncertainty and divorce

When it comes to divorce, timing can be critical. Waiting until a spouse's big bonus could give the other spouse an opportunity to claim more through the property division process, and waiting to file for divorce until one is financially stable can ensure a more successful post-divorce life. Yet, some circumstances related to divorce are outside of one's control. Although this can be frustrating, it shouldn't deter individuals from preparing a solid divorce plan that seeks to satisfy their needs and desires.

One issue that is causing many Americans to hold off on their divorce is the current uncertainty regarding the health insurance market. Many individuals are unsure about how much insurance will cost once they divorce, or if it will even be available at all. Although many couples used to file for legal separation to retain insurance while at the same time separating their lives, many employers have shifted away from providing coverage to separated spouses of their employees. This leaves many Americans in a position where they want to divorce, but are unsure of how to protect their healthcare needs.

What is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order?

Depending on one's specific set of circumstances, certain divorce legal issues can take precedence. For example, divorcing couples with a child may focus a lot of their time and energy on resolving child custody and visitation matters. Those who gave up their career in order to raise a family may want to take the time to develop strong legal arguments for alimony. Of course, each of these issues, as well as other family law matters, should be part of a comprehensive approach to marriage dissolution. Therefore, in order to proceed in a way that one feels supports his or her best interests, individuals need to know as much as they can about divorce.

Property division, which can be a highly contentious issue, is oftentimes a matter that is fraught with legal complications. This can be especially true for those who have retirement accounts. If these accounts are divided through divorce but improperly handled, the parties can see significant, yet avoidable, financial losses. This is why it is critical to obtain a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.

What can child support payments be used to pay for?

A recent post here discussed how child support is calculated in the courts following a divorce and child custody ruling. But, what exactly can child support be used for? The answer may surprise you. Despite what many people assume, child support payments can be used for much more than just the basic necessities of food and shelter.

The courts want to make certain that every effort is made to minimally impact a child's standard of living following a divorce. Child support payments can cover a wide range of costs and expenses that are necessary to keep a child happy and healthy. This may include, but is not limited to, all costs associated with a child's health and medical care, including doctor and hospital visits, co-pays, insurance, prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and supplies and even dental and eye-care costs.

Avoid being taken advantage of in divorce by seeking help

Last week on the blog we discussed divorce rates and its acceptability amongst the general public. Although divorce is becoming more acceptable, it can still be quite contentious, perhaps even unacceptable, for those going through the process. After all, marriage dissolution often involves a number of emotions, including sadness, anger, frustration and fear. A cocktail of these emotions can make it difficult to work with the other side, which could, in turn, place one's best interests at risk.

This is why many divorcing individuals turn to experienced family law attorneys for assistance. A skilled legal professional can help an individual see the matter more clearly and advise as to how to best proceed so that important divorce legal issues, such as property division, alimony, child custody and child support, can be resolved as favorably as possible under the circumstances.

Understanding how child support is calculated

When a child support order comes from the courts, the non-custodial parent who owes child support has a legal duty to pay. Failure to do so could lead to serious consequences, including but not limited to changes in one's credit rating, wage garnishment and even contempt of court, which could lead to time in jail.

For residents of the Atlanta, Georgia, area and throughout the state, if you are struggling to have your ex-spouse keep up with child support payments the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Child Support Services department, or DCSS, may be able to help. You could speak with a case manager to help you collect the payments.

Divorce becoming more acceptable as divorce rate falls

It wasn't long ago that divorce was seen as a morally reprehensible act that should be denounced. Back then, in the 50s, 60s and 70s, many Americans wanted divorce to be more difficult to obtain, and many felt that divorce was unacceptable. Even the law reflected this reality, with no-fault divorce not becoming legal until California passed a law enacting it in 1968.

Since then, divorce has become much more acceptable in our society. In fact, the results of a recent Gallup study found that in 2015 more than 70 percent of Americans deemed divorce morally acceptable. This is a record high for acceptability. Interestingly, though, that same year saw a 35-year low in divorce rates. Some claim that these changes are a result of the country shifting political views toward the more progressive, while others say that other societal changes, such as young Americans holding off marriage until they are older, are to credit for the changes.

Understanding how child support is calculated

When making decisions in a divorce, the courts want to be fair to both parents and also make certain that the child or children involved are not negatively impacted. There are several factors the courts will take into consideration when determining child support.

The courts will look at the earnings and income of each parent. This will include not only each parent's salary, but other money and benefits they may be collecting, such as public assistance, stock valuations, future incomes and even the use of a company car. They will also look to see what expenses each spouse has, which could include other child support payments from previous relationships.

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