I recently had the honor of being sworn in to the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Although I don’t anticipate ever trying a case before this august court, it was an opportunity that I could not pass up.
On February 24, 2014, the ten other attorneys and I (all who had signed up through the Cobb County Bar Association) were formally led into the large and very impressive courtroom in the United States Supreme Court building. I was seated in front, directly in front of the justices, and when the swearing-in ceremony began, just hearing the Chief Justice say my name and feeling all the justices’ eyes on me while I took the oath, it almost took my breath away!
Immediately after each lawyer was sworn in, the justices began their calendar with oral argument in an environmental law case. Though I had anticipated that hearing the case would be a pretty dull hour and a half, I was so wrong. Almost immediately, the justices (except for Justice Thomas, of course) peppered the lawyers before them with questions and comments. The time flew – I had not expected such a lively exchange.
After the justices left the bench, we had a private reception with the very gracious Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who introduced herself to each of us. Then a docent led some of us on a tour of the Supreme Court building, finishing with a visit to the justices’ impressive law library.
The entire experience was quite exciting – a special memory I will cherish. I must admit though, that the best part was being able to share it with my son, Doug, who lives in Nashville with his wife and two children. It was our first mother-son trip in many years – one not to be forgotten by either of us.
If you are a custodial parent in Georgia and plan to relocate, or if your children’s custodial parent is planning on relocating and you object to it, you may want to explore the relevant Georgia custody law.
Prior to 2003 in Georgia, it was presumed that the custodial parent was acting in the best interest of the children when choosing to relocate. The presumption could be rebutted only if the non-custodial parent could show that the move would be harmful to the children and place them at some type of risk.
That changed in 2003 with the Georgia Supreme Court ruling in the case of Bodne v. Bodne, 277 Ga. 445 (2003). In a split decision, the Bodne court specifically held:
- When a custodial parent chooses to relocate, the primary consideration must be what is in the best interest of the children. All other factors are secondary.
- There is no presumption of any kind in relocation cases. It cannot be presumed that relocation is or is not in the best interest of the children.
- Each situation must be determined on a case by case basis.
In Bodne, the custodial parent was the father, although both parents had been deemed to be fit, and each had a loving relationship with the children. The mother had visitation rights which allowed her equal custody and involvement in the life of the children. She objected to the father’s move on the grounds that it would disrupt her children’s lives as well as her relationship with them.
Considering the above factors, the trial court agreed with the mother and transferred physical custody of the children to her. The Supreme Court ruled in the mother’s favor.
In Salmon v. Davis, 286 Ga. 456 (2010), the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously affirmed that the best interest of the children is the deciding factor in solving custody disputes, even those involving relocation.
Relocation Evidence the Court Will Consider
According to Bodne and Davis, whether you are the custodial parent wanting to relocate, or the parent objecting to the relocation, evidence you can present to the court to support your position includes, but is not limited to:
- Reasons for the relocation.
- Why the relocation will or will not be in the best interest of the children.
- Testimony of teachers and friends as to the anticipated effect of the relocation on the children.
- Evidence of how the relocation will affect the visitation and relationship with the noncustodial parent.
Agreements Between Business Partners
In most states, you can go into business with your best friend and seal the deal with a handshake. If you form your partnership that way, chances are that before long, you and your former best friend will be in a legal harangue about who was supposed to do what in establishing, operating and managing the business.
When there is no written partnership agreement in Georgia, partnership disputes will be resolved according to the Georgia Uniform Partnership Act (GUPA) found in Title 14 of the Georgia Code. This requires all partners, no matter how many there are, to act in “good faith and fair dealing.” It may also require all partners to be equal participants in the operation and management of the business. This may have results none of the partners intended.
A written partnership agreement delineates the duties and obligations of each partner. Some of the most important factors that should be considered include:
- The name of the partnership: Disagreements can begin with what to call the partnership. Imagine what a difference Wesson & Smith or Fitch & Abercrombie would make? At some point, those involved had to decide what the name would be.
- The type of business: This seems easy, but you need to agree on what your business is and what you are selling. For example, are you going to sell stationery, hardware or both?
- Partnership contributions: Are you going to be equal partners, or will one partner contribute more than the other ones?
- Allocation of profits and losses: It may seem logical that profits and losses are allocated according to the percentage of partnership contributions, but you need to all be in agreement about this.
- How the duties and responsibilities will be divided: Who is responsible for every aspect of managing the business needs to be put in writing. You want to avoid disputes over who was supposed to order the staples or return the calls of customers or clients.
- What happens to the business if one partner dies: If this is included in the written partnership agreement, it will avoid disputes with the decedent’s family in the unpleasant event that will ensue if one partner dies.
These are other issues that may be included, depending on the nature of the business. The time to determine how problems will be resolved is before they even arise.
A REMINDER TO MY CORPORATE CLIENTS
Each business entity registered or filed with the Office of the Secretary of State of Georgia is required to file an annual registration and to pay the appropriate renewal fee.
On the Secretary of State’s current website, the deadline for the annual registration renewal period on one page is listed as 11:59 p.m. on Friday, May 31, 2014, and on another the deadline is listed as April 1st of each year. Just to be sure that you file in time, I would suggest the earlier date, April 1, 2014. Any late filings will be charged a $25.00 late filing penalty fee as well as run the risk of administrative dissolution or revocation of the authorization to transact business in this State. Any fees paid for filing a registration are non-refundable, regardless of your reason for seeking a refund. Before proceeding, please confirm whether your entity’s annual registration is due for the current year only or for previous years as well.
When you file your annual registration, you will be providing a current record of your entity’s management structure, your correct mailing address, and the name and address of your Georgia registered agent.
The fee schedule is:
For-profit corporation, limited liability company (LLC),
limited partnership (LP) $50.00
Non-profit corporation $30.00
Foreign limited liability partnership (LLP) $25.00
Anyone who is unsure of the status of their entity may visit the Corporations Division website (http://sos.ga.gov) and search for their company by name or by control number. If the status is “Active/Noncompliant” or “Active/Owes Current Year AR”, the entity likely owes annual renewal fees.
If you would like for me to help you or to take care of this for you, call me at 770-980-9096 or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Divorce is an emotional process during which time people are forced to make important financial decisions. Assets and liabilities have to be divided. Child custody and support must be determined as well as whether or not either party will have to pay spousal support to the other. On top of that, there are income tax issues that must be considered.
When the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the court will make the decisions for them. As for the division of assets and liabilities, Georgia is an equitable distribution state. This means assets and liabilities are divided according to what the court determines is fair. This does not necessarily mean the division will be an equal one.
The law requires parents to support their children, including providing them with health care coverage. Georgia has established support guidelines based on the gross income of each parent. There is a child support worksheet the court uses in determining the Basic Child Support Obligation (BCSO) of each parent. The court may evaluate individual circumstances and deviate up or down from the BCSO. In most cases, the non-custodial parent will be obligated to pay a certain monthly sum to the custodial parent.
Either spouse can request support from the other. According to Georgia law, the determining factor is based on one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay. Some factors the court may evaluate include the length of the marriage, the financial situation of the parties and each one’s ability to be employed. The standard of living during the course of the marriage is also a factor.
Parents who pay child support cannot deduct their payment amount from their income taxes. The parent receiving child support does not claim it as income.
Spousal support payments are deductible and the receiving party must claim it as income. In some circumstances, there may be other tax issues that need to be discussed with the family law attorney.