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.”

Contempt Motion Filed Against MARTA Mobility

Advocates pressing for adequate, accessible public transit for persons with disabilities charge in a federal court action that MARTA is in contempt of court. The action sets out evidence that MARTA’s paratransit service — MARTA Mobility – fails to provide the level of service required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and by an injunction previously entered against the system. They argue that MARTA has failed to take reasonable steps to improve the system’s performance. As a result, they say, those who rely upon the system for transportation to work, to medical appointments, or to special occasions are often left stranded. MARTA Mobility’s own statistics regarding whether its vehicles show up on time — or even show up at all – show that the system’s performance has recently been worse than it has been at any point in the past twelve years. [Read more…]

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…]

Georgia Lord Elected to DeKalb Bar Family Law Section Board

On June 4th, 2015, Georgia Lord of Georgia Lord Law was elected to the Board of the DeKalb Bar Family Law Section.  The Section regularly presents educational programs on Family Law to attorneys who practice in DeKalb County.  It meets monthly at the Historic DeKalb County Courthouse, in downtown Decatur, and periodically hosts more extensive continuing legal education seminars or other special events. During the June 4th election meeting, Lord thanked her fellow family law attorneys for selecting her to this leadership post and said she was looking forward to planning many training programs for the group.

The program for the September meeting of the DeKalb Bar Family Law Section featured Georgia Supreme Court Justice Carol W. Hunstein. Justice Hunstein both reminisced about her eight years on the DeKalb bench and shared some practical tips for practitioners litigating in the Georgia Supreme Court. [Read more…]