Have Sizeable IRAs? Divorcing? Consider Trusteed IRAs

IRAs make up a significant portion of many individuals’ financial assets. If you have sizeable IRAs, it is important to periodically review whom you designated as the beneficiary for these accounts and whether it is time for a change. Many who are considering divorce, or were recently divorced, want to remove their spouse as their designated IRA beneficiary.  When making this switch, it would be wise to thoughtfully consider the options and work to steer clear of potential problems. For example, individuals with children often wish to designate their children as the beneficiary for their IRA. They should consider whether their children are sufficiently mature to manage these resources wisely. Many young adults who obtain unlimited access to funds yield to the temptation to cash out the account (despite the tax penalties involved) and spend the funds quickly. Even if the owner of the IRA is confident that their proposed beneficiary will be fiscally prudent, it would also be wise for the account holder to consider the possibility that either the account holder or the beneficiary may suffer a disability that leaves them unable to manage the account. [Read more…]

DFCS Investigations: Do’s and Don’ts When DFCS Calls

At a recent DeKalb Bar Family Section meeting, Family Section Board member Georgia Lord heard attorneys Lila Bradley and Lynn Goldman of Claiborne Fox Bradley LLC provide a wealth of practical information regarding Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) investigations and related Juvenile Court proceedings. Ms. Bradley and Ms. Goldman noted that a DFCS investigation can pop up unexpectedly during a custody dispute (for instance, in response to a complaint by other party or a member of their family), and cautioned that the manner in which a parent responds to the investigator can have a critical impact on the outcome of their custody case (and the wellbeing of the child involved).

They cautioned that Juvenile Court litigation should be handled by a specialist who is well-versed in the rules and procedures of that court.

Their suggestions included things to try to do and things to avoid doing when responding to DFCS staff. For example, here are several things persons who are the subject of a DFCS investigation should not do: [Read more…]

Georgia Lord Gives Divorce Advice to Atlanta Women’s Network

At a recent meeting of the Atlanta Women’s Network, Georgia Lord was invited to present her advice to those who are going through a divorce or child custody dispute.

Child Guardians | Guardian ad LitemShe explained that women should not assume that if they divorce they will receive alimony. Nowadays, an award of alimony has become the exception, rather than the rule. Even when alimony is awarded it is usually for a very short period of time. Most judges now expect able-bodied individuals to largely support themselves after divorce, even if they have not worked outside the home in recent years. Counsel must be prepared to lay out convincing evidence regarding the relative financial and life circumstances of the parties in order to make a case for alimony. [Read more…]

Decatur Attorneys Learn About Child Support Collection

Two very knowledgeable employees of the Georgia Commission on Child Support gave nuts-and-bolts advice about collecting child support at a recent meeting of the DeKalb Bar Association Family Law Section.  The speakers explained how to collect child support through automatic payroll deductions. Such deductions can be very helpful in situations in which a parent who has been ordered to pay child support is working and earning money but is failing to send the ordered child support. When the payroll deduction process is used, the paying parent’s employer subtracts child support from the paying parent’s paycheck and sends it to to the Family Support Registry. The Family Support Registry then forwards these funds to the person who is entitled to collect child support. [Read more…]

Lord Urges MARTA Board to Improve Paratransit Service

At a MARTA Board meeting held a few days ago, Georgia Lord urged Board members to get serious about remedying performance problems in the system’s paratransit service, MARTA Mobility. Simply privatizing parts of the system will not solve the current performance problems, she argued. Ms. Lord and attorneys Bill Nabors and David Ates represent a group of MARTA patrons with disabilities. They are pressing for MARTA to come into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and with a federal district court injunction previously entered against the system.

MARTA Mobility provides transit service for riders whose disabilities make it impractical for them to use the fixed route system. The MARTA Board of Directors is considering outsourcing (privatizing) portions of the paratransit service.

An Atlanta Journal Constitution article describing the meeting reported that Lord told the MARTA Board, “We want to help you bring the system into compliance,” and, “I urge you to tackle the responsibility of genuinely improving compliance rather than hand off this obligation to a for-profit vendor.”

Georgia Lord Teaches Child Custody Lawyers

PanelPresentationOnGuardianAdLitemService

Georgia Lord (fourth from left) on Panel Providing Instruction On Guardian Ad Litem Service. Other panelists were attorneys A. Bernadette Olmos, George P. Shingler, Dawn Elizabeth de Klerk, Lila N. Bradley, and Robert A. Burnett.

Georgia Lord recently joined other custody litigation experts to teach child custody lawyers from Atlanta, Decatur, and DeKalb. Lord served as faculty at a Continuing Legal Education Seminar on “Advanced Issues Facing Custody Litigators and Guardians ad Litem.” Lord presented a scholarly assessment of the potential impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Marriage Equality decision. She reviewed the rules Georgia’s courts are likely to apply when deciding custody disputes between spouses or domestic partners of the same sex.

Georgia Lord also provided advice to prospective Guardians ad litem during the training. Guardians ad litem investigate custody disputes and make recommendations to the Judge regarding who will get custody. The Guardian works to provide the Judge with an objective assessment of which custody arrangement would best serve the child or children; she represents the “best interest” of the child or children whose custody is at issue. Lord is frequently appointed to serve as Guardian ad litem by local family court Judges. [Read more…]

DeKalb Judges Explain Mistakes to Avoid in Divorce and Custody Litigation

During a recent meeting of the Family Law Section of the DeKalb Bar Association, Georgia Lord heard presentations by three Judges of the Superior Court of DeKalb County: Judges Gregory Adams, Mark Scott, and Clarence Seeliger. Georgia explains that she found the speeches valuable.  She notes that, “At this type of program, DeKalb Judges explain mistakes to avoid in divorce and custody litigation.” Judge Seeliger noted that many divorce or custody litigants want to focus on airing their hurts or grievances rather than on the questions that will have the greatest impact on his decision. For example, in contested child custody cases he wants to hear about each party’s parenting abilities, as well as their willingness to cooperate with their ex in co-parenting.  Instead, some parties in contested custody cases spend a lot of time testifying about the other party’s adultery and relatively little time addressing parenting skills and experience. Judge Seeliger said that it turns him off to hear one parent disparage the other in court because the harsh words will injure their ability to work together to raise their children in the future.

One of the pieces of advice Judge Adams offered was that litigants should listen very carefully to each of the questions they are being asked on cross-examination and try their best to answer them.  He says that many litigants respond to cross-examination questions by basically repeating a prepared statement, rather than by actually answering the questions.  He finds this very frustrating. He noted that one change he has seen during his ten years on the DeKalb Superior bench is that now more fathers are requesting significant shares of the parenting time.

Judge Scott noted that he often reminds litigants that although the other party may have done something that they find offensive, they need to consider the possibility that the Judge hearing the case may not be as offended as they are.  Some things that offend them may not offend the Judge at all, because the Judge’s values and life experiences may well be different from theirs. He encourages parties to consider resolving their case by compromise, saying, “The results you are hoping for may not be the ones you get from me.”

All of the Judges stated that they found the services of a “Guardian ad litem” very valuable in custody disputes.  Such Guardians are appointed by the court.  They conduct an investigation and make recommendations regarding the type of custody arrangement that would be in the best interest of the child or children involved.  The Judges stated that when a Guardian has been appointed, the Guardian’s report gives the Judge access to more information than they would otherwise have.

Georgia Lord Meets Supreme Court Justice Thomas

Following her recent admission to membership in the Bar of the United States Supreme Court Georgia Lord had the opportunity to chat with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Clarence Thomas personally greeted Georgia and congratulated her. Although Justice Thomas is known for his silence during the Court’s oral arguments, he was very gracious and welcoming on this occasion. He good humoredly responded to the many, many questions posed by those present. The admission ceremony itself took place in the Supreme Court’s courtroom and five of the current Justices participated: Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan, along with Justice Thomas. As a member of the Court’s Bar association Georgia is eligible to represent parties in Supreme Court cases.  Luckily, a photographer captured the moment when Georgia Lord meets Supreme Court Justice Thomas.

GABAR at SCOTUS

Georgia Lord Admitted to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court

us supreme court buildingOn January 26th, 2015, Georgia Lord was accepted as a member of the Bar of the United States Supreme Court. As a member of the Court’s Bar association she is eligible to represent parties in Supreme Court cases. The admission ceremony took place in the Supreme Court’s courtroom and five of the current Justices participated. Justice Clarence Thomas personally greeted Georgia and congratulated her following the ceremony.