Tips for Parenting Plans Involving Babies & Young Children

Creating a parenting plan is never easy, especially when your children are still young. Older children are often better equipped to handle divorce and separation issues, or they are at least able to grasp what is going on. Babies and young children, however, do not understand what is happening and ideally should be receiving attention and care from both parents during these early years. For this reason, it can be particularly difficult to create a schedule for a baby when the parents live in different households. 

Sync Your Parenting Schedules and Routines 

Keeping children on a schedule is extremely important, but when it comes to babies and toddlers, this step is crucial. For babies, everything is new, and keeping them fed and well rested is key to ensuring they grow and develop as they should. Toddlers are not quite so delicate, but they also thrive under a set schedule and known routines. Switching from home to home can be hard on children of any age, but if both parents are able to stick to the same schedule and routines, it can provide the children with a sense of normalcy and steadiness. 

In order to sync your schedules, you need to come up with a consistent parenting plan. To which that both parents can strictly follow. Changing things week-by-week can be extremely challenging and could be stressful for your children, so make sure you find a custody arrangement that benefits everyone in some way. Keeping a steady day-to-day plan can also help significantly. Get together with your co-parent and settle on a shared schedule that includes nap times, feeding times, bedtimes, and other important daily events. 

Keep Visits Short 

Young children are particularly sensitive to their caretakers and they do best when they are able to spend time with both parents on a regular basis. Older children are usually more capable of balancing time with either parent and could do well with switching off between parents every week or every few days. Young children, however, typically need to see each parent every couple of days. For this reason, most child psychologists and other experts suggest that parents who share custody split their parenting time in 2 to 3-day increments. Or, if trading off parenting responsibilities every couple of days is not an option for you, consider scheduling visits with the other parent in between custody switches.  

Communicate About Milestones 

Young children hit new developmental milestones almost daily, and when parents share caretaker responsibilities, both are bound to miss certain achievements. If the two of you are amicable, try sending photos or videos of these moments to one another; it could help you cope with the time apart from your child. 

Even if you cannot communicate this well with your ex, you should at least tell them about any new developments that could affect your child’s care. For example, if your child learned how to crawl out of the crib, make sure your co-parent is aware so that he or she can take the necessary safety precautions. 

Creating a parenting plan is never easy, but with the help of an experienced child custody attorney, it is certainly doable. If you need help with a child custody or visitation issue, or if you need to modify an existing parenting plan, Dreyer Law is here to help. We offer free consultations for all Family Law needs.  

Getting Divorced While Pregnant

When a couple has decided to divorce, pregnancy can be incredibly stressful. While some couples may choose to postpone the divorce until after the child is born, others feel waiting is not an option. 

Although the courts cannot prevent you from divorcing simply because a spouse is pregnant, you may encounter some legal issues as you begin the process. 

In Georgia, all children born in wedlock or within the usual period of gestation thereafter are legitimate, and deemed the legal children of both spouses. If one of the spouses is not the biological parents of the child, it must be indicated in the Stated in the Petition for Divorce or challenged in the Answer and Counterclaim for Divorce and in the Final Decree of Divorce. If there is a disagreement regarding the parentage of the child, there are several possible outcomes, such as: 

  • If the pregnant woman believes her spouse or partner is the parent, she can allege it in court. 
  • If the spouse or partner believes he is the parent, he can admit parentage. 
  • If the pregnant woman believes a third person is the parent of her child, she can sue that person to establish parentage. 
  • A potential father may step forward and attempt to establish his parentage. 
  • A spouse may challenge paternity.  

legitimation action is separate from the divorce case and will determine the legal parentage of a child, as well as child custody, parenting plan details, and child support. 

Dreyer Law has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout Coweta Judicial Circuit (Coweta, Carroll, Meriwether, Heard and Troup counties) for over three decades, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce. We are well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact us to schedule an initial consultation. 

Divorcing an Addict or Alcoholic

Going through a divorce is hard enough, but when your spouse is an addict, the entire process can be much more challenging. Your spouse’s addiction may have been the reason for your divorce, or it could be a newly developed habit since you have decided to split. They may be addicted to prescription drugs, illegal substances, or alcohol. Whatever the situation, divorcing a spouse while they are dealing with addiction can be both painful and frustrating. 

Addicts often exhibit certain characteristics and behaviors that make it difficult for their friends and family to interact with them. As their spouse, or their soon-to-be-ex-spouse, you may catch the brunt of their misconduct. To make your divorce process more manageable, make sure you know what to expect when divorcing an addict and find out what you can do to make the ordeal easier. 

Initiating the Divorce Process 

Georgia is a no-fault divorce state, which means you are not required to file a divorce because of a specific reason, like adultery or addiction. However, you can still allege other fault grounds such as adultery, abuse, and addiction. However, their addiction will undoubtedly affect the divorce process in other ways. Addicts often exhibit certain behaviors which can make them unreliable, unstable, and even dangerous. 

If a person’s addiction can be proven, either through criminal records, drug tests, evidence of time in a rehab facility, or other means, the court may be hesitant to give the addict certain privileges. In order to determine how your case will play out, it is important for you to work with an attorney who has experience working on other cases where addiction played a significant role. 

How Addiction Will Impact Child Custody 

When children are involved in the marriage, the court will likely take additional action to ensure that both parents are fit and able, especially if there are allegations of alcoholism or drug addiction on the table. Judges will consider the health and abilities of either parent when deciding what child custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. 

A parent’s substance abuse habits can be held against them if it in any way affects their ability to care for their child. For example, someone battling a heroin addiction is likely not a good candidate for joint custody because their actions could endanger their child.  

The Court May Consider the Following Alternatives: 

  • The addicted parent may be allowed visitation rights when he or she is sober. 
  • The addicted parent may only be allowed supervised visitation. 
  • The addicted parent could be required to submit to regular or random drug and alcohol screenings. 
  • The addicted parent could be required to go to a rehabilitation facility, Alcoholics Anonymous, or another type of help group. 
  • The addicted parent could be required to provide a breath sample, into an alcohol sensing unit, both prior to and after visitation.  

Although the superior court does not have the authority to terminate one party’s parental rights, except in the case of adoption, if the addiction is severe the court could transfer the case to the juvenile court that would have that authority if it was deemed necessary. 

How Addiction Could Affect Property Division and Spousal Support 

Divorcing an addict could lead to several other challenges, including those affecting property division and spousal support. 

In Georgia, the court will aim to divide all assets equally and fairly, but if one spouse has squandered the marital funds to support their addiction, that face could be taken into account when the property is divided. The same can be said of alimony. The court may award the sober spouse more spousal support if the addicted spouse spent an unfair share of the marital assets. However, this could be reversed in some rare instances if the addict’s problem is connected to a health issue. For example, if your spouse’s addiction is connected to a mental health issue, they may require financial support to help with treatment during and after the divorce. 

Overall, divorcing a spouse dealing with a drug addiction or alcoholism can be particularly challenging. You may have to deal with more contention, more arguments, and more complex legal issues. Call Dreyer Law today to set up a free consultation. Having an experienced family lawyer on your side makes facing these problems drastically easier. 

What Requirements Must I Meet to get a Divorce in Georgia?

Before getting married in Georgia, there are several legal requirements a couple must be sure to meet. Just as there are legal requirements for marriage, there are legal requirements that must be met for a couple to get a divorce. 

If you are considering filing for a divorce, it may be helpful to understand the requirements you will need to meet to legally do so. An understanding of these requirements can help you make choices that could impact the outcome of your divorce. 

Residency 

To get a divorce in Georgia, your situation must meet the residency requirement. This means that either you or your spouse must have been a Georgia resident for at least six months before you file the petition for divorce. 

Grounds 

The other requirement you must meet involves having a legally valid reason to end your marriage. These legally valid reasons are called grounds, and Georgia recognizes 13 different grounds for divorce. 

The 13 Grounds for Divorce in Georgia: 

  • The marriage is irretrievably broken 
  • Intermarriage by people within the prohibited degrees of kinship 
  • Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage 
  • Impotency at the time of the marriage 
  • Force, menace, duress or fraud in obtaining the marriage 
  • Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband at the time of the marriage (and unknown to the husband) 
  • Adultery during the marriage 
  • Desertion 
  • The conviction of a crime of moral turpitude that results in a prison sentence of two years or longer 
  • Habitual intoxication 
  • Cruel treatment 
  • Incurable mental illness 
  • Habitual drug addiction 

Most of the grounds for divorce are fault-based. Using a fault-based ground means that your spouse caused the need for divorce. However, you must be able to provide proof for whatever fault you choose or your petition for divorce may be denied. 

You can also get a divorce without blaming your spouse. To do this, you can use the ground that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Your spouse cannot generally object to a divorce based upon this ground. 

Practically, you would probably want to allege both that the marriage is irretrievably broken along with any applicable fault ground or at least reserve the right to amend your petition should that be necessary. Which option you chose depends upon the privacy you want to retain as to the reason for the divorce as your petition is a public document. 

There is an absolute minimum amount of time, 30 days, between the time your spouse is served the divorce papers and the time the divorce is finalized. However, only in cases where the parties reach an agreement in advance will that minimum time frame be an issue. 

Having a full understanding of the legal requirements for divorce can be helpful to have before you ask your spouse for divorce. Every divorcing couple in Georgia must meet the residency requirement. However, your unique situation should influence the ground you choose, which could have a lasting impact on the outcome of your divorce. Contact Dreyer Law to schedule a free consultation. Dreyer Law can help you with every step of the divorce process.  

Can a Grandparent Get Child Support When Raising a Grandchild?

According to the Georgia Department of Human Services, more than 15 percent of the state’s children were being raised by family members other than their parents. For some families, parents have died leaving children in need of care. For other families, parents are caught in struggles of drug abuse or mental health problems. Whatever the reason, if you are raising your relatives’ children, you may wonder if you could be eligible to receive financial support to help. 

The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services has established the state’s Kinship Navigator Program. This program is designed to provide support for people raising relatives’ children. While a kinship navigator relationship may be informally established, it is possible for people to request and receive child support. This can provide not only financial assistance but also medical care for children. 

One of the ways this can happen is by diverting existing child support payments from the originally intended recipient parent to the grandparent or other relative taking care of the kids. The Division of Child Services may assist in locating parents and even in establishing paternity as part of seeking child support. If support is ordered, this agency may be able to facilitate or participate in enforcing such an order. 

This information is not intended to provide legal advice, but is meant to give Georgia residents who may be raising grandchildren or other family members’ children insight into how they may be eligible to receive child support. 

For all of your child support questions, give Dreyer Law a call to schedule a free consultation.  

How to Avoid a Huge IRA Mistake during a Divorce

In most divorces, there is at least one dispute that is difficult to resolve before the marriage can be legally over. In some divorces, the most difficult disagreements can be found in emotionally charged matters such as child custody. In other situations, the most disputed conflicts are over how to distribute marital assets such as an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), real estate, pension, stock holdings, savings and more. 

We read recently of a doctor who made a costly IRA mistake in his divorce. He found himself in Tax Court earlier this year after he failed to pay taxes on $140,000 in IRA withdrawals transferred to his former wife. 

The court made it clear to the doctor that there are only two ways to make tax-free IRA asset transfers in divorces. One way is to change the name on the IRA to the former spouse’s name. The second way is to directly transfer the IRA’s assets to an IRA the former spouse owns. 

Here is what you cannot do – take an IRA distribution and transfer those funds to the former spouse’s checking account, which is what the doctor did. 

A financial planning service says that the doctor’s mistake is a reminder that after a divorce, an adviser should be brought in to help transfer IRA funds in a way that complies with divorce terms. The divorce decree should be specific on how assets are to be divided – and because IRA values can fluctuate, it’s important to have the date of the IRA division clearly stated in the decree. 

Also, it is important for the decree to state who is responsible for paying any related fees. 

In order to ensure that terms of your divorce are favorable and clear, speak with an attorney experienced in divorces. Give Dreyer Law a call today for a free consultation. Dreyer law can also help set you up with the proper financial planner to help you with all your IRA needs.  

Paying for College After a Divorce

As many Georgia high school seniors start receiving their college acceptance letters this time of year, their parents are left to figure out how to fund their educational needs. When parents are divorced or are starting down the path toward divorce, this issue can become trickier. 

As explained by Forbes, child support awards do not typically include requirements to pay for college. However, separate provisions can be developed and added to a divorce decree. Exactly what these provisions may state can vary from family to family. Some people may find it beneficial to establish trust or escrow accounts into which money can be added over the course of time. Other people may prefer that lump sums are given up front toward a future education. Some of these details may be impacted by the age of the child or children at the time of the divorce.  

It is also important to determine how parents will pay for college and the exact obligation of each parent. Tuition is far from the only cost incurred. Room, board, books, and basic living allowances will also be needed. One parent may be willing to pay tuition while the other parent may agree to pay the rest. Other parents might opt to split everything. 

When it comes time to file for financial aid, the government does not consider custodial parents in the same way that the courts might. According to Nerd Wallet, even in a joint custody situation, only one parent will be deemed the custodial parent. That is the person with whom the child lived the greatest number of days in the prior year. It is that parent’s financial information that needs to be reported on federal financial aid forms. 

Always talk to your divorce attorney about creating a tuition plan. Doug Dreyer has the knowledge to help you make sure your children will have the funds to complete college. Call Dreyer Law today to set up a free consultation.  

Will child support affect my income taxes?

It is that time for Georgia residents to start thinking about their tax returns. If you are one of the people in Georgia who got divorced last year, preparing and filing your 2018 tax return will be different than in prior years. You will likely have new questions and things to think about when filing your return. In addition to collecting your income information, you may need to understand how your child support payments might impact your taxes.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, your taxes will be completed unaffected by child support. This is the case whether you are the parent who is ordered to make child support payments or whether you are the parents who is to receive child support payments.

During your divorce, you and your former spouse would have had to negotiate custody of your children. The IRS considers the parent with whom the children spent the most time in the calendar year to be the custodial parent. This person is then allowed to claim the children as dependents on a tax return. A special form may be filed with the IRS that relinquishes the right of the custodial parent to claim the child deduction and transfers that right to the non-custodial parent.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give Georgia residents an overview of how a divorce may change tax filings. For all divorce questions, please contact Dreyer Law for a free consultation.

Protect Your Business Ownership in a Divorce

Like most business owners, your business represents your life. It is one of the most important aspects of your life and you will do anything to protect it against attacks and challenges. However, most entrepreneurs do not protect their businesses against the potentiality of divorce. Dissolution of marriage is one of the most dangerous enemies of owning your own business. Many divorces end with businesses being liquidated or the ownership handed to the spouse.

There are two important ways to protect your business during a divorce.

• A prenuptial agreement: It is always best to handle the details and add the proper protections for your business during a divorce long before a divorce is even a consideration. Before your wedding, a prenuptial agreement is a great way to make sure your business is not divided during a divorce.

• A buyout agreement: One of the most powerful tools to protect your business is a pre-emptive buyout agreement that triggers an automatic buyout in the event of a divorce.

There are also options to dissolve, divide, or share business ownership after your divorce. However, such methods do not work for a couple that has divorced and business owners who do not want to lose control or ownership of a successful enterprise.

If you want to keep your business and protect your ownership, the most important thing to do is to plan ahead. Give Dreyer Law a call to discuss drawing up the proper documents and agreements as early in the relationship as possible.

Men have rights in Georgia courts

When a baby is born, there is almost never a debate as to who is the child’s mother. However, it can be more difficult to determine who is the child’s biological father.

When a couple is married, the woman’s husband is presumed to be the baby’s father, but in some cases DNA testing is necessary to determine paternity. Establishing paternity is important because it gives the father rights to see and know their child. Before paternity and legitimation is established, the mother has control over child custody issues.

When married parents decide to divorce, there is often a battle over who should be the children’s primary caregiver. In these situations, fathers may feel like they have fewer rights or that the law favors giving custody to women. While this used to be true, laws in Georgia and around the country have changed in recent years.
Most experts agree that fathers play an important role in the lives of their children. Therefore, laws have shifted from being woman-focused to focusing on the best interest of the child. Under these current laws, fathers are given equal rights to the children and courts understand that it is important for both parents to have a relationship with a child.

Georgia men should understand that it is important for them to fight for their rights when it comes to their children. The family law courts are available to help these people with child custody, child support, and other family law issues.

If you are thinking about divorce and worried about the well-being of your children, contact Dreyer Law for a free consultation. We put the children first and want what is in their best interest.