Co-Parenting During the Holidays-Part 1

Kids HalloweenStores are currently overflowing with Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat candy flourishes on display counters. Any day now, fresh Christmas ornaments will be for sale. You might even find a set of porcelain pilgrims to purchase.

October marks the beginning of the three month holiday marathon which is supposed to be a time of fun, thanksgiving and joy. Instead, for divorced parents, the difficulties of co-parenting during the holiday season are often compounded. Here are some tips to help you co-parent for Halloween, keeping in mind the best interest of the children.

Communicate with the other parent

During the month of October, students often have school holiday events. Both parents should have a school calendar and be aware of the dates of the events and what is expected of the children. The custodial parent should keep the non-custodial one in the loop even if only by email or texting. For example, if there is a field trip planned, like to a pumpkin patch, be sure a parent has signed the permission slip and that the children are dressed appropriately for the day of the event.

How to deal with trick-or-treating or Halloween parties

The parent at whose house the children will be on Halloween needs to be sure the costumes are with the children. If the children leave one parent’s house in the morning, and will be picked up after school by the other parent, be sure the costume is not left behind at the wrong house.

Consider the wants and needs of the children above the needs of the parent. If you are the parent that has custody or visitation for the holiday evening, but the children would prefer to spend the evening in the more familiar neighborhood where they spend more time, be flexible about changing your plans to best meet the needs of the children.

Check your final divorce papers regarding custody and visitation

The custody agreement generally defines which parent has custody of the children for certain holidays. If Halloween is not mentioned, work out acceptable terms with the other parent. If it is spelled out in writing, you either must comply with the order or ask the court for a modification.

Corporate Identity Theft | Cybersecurity Lawyer Atlanta

Corp Identity Theft PicAny type of business of any size, regardless of its legal structure, needs to be on guard for the new rash of online identity theft.

Although consumer identity theft has been around for several years, corporate identity theft now seems to be the target of choice for cyber thieves.

What Are Corporate Identity Theft and Cybersecurity?

Corporate identity theft is when a person or company acts as though they are the business. They use the business credentials and records, whether by manipulating them or falsifying them. They impersonate the business to banks, creditors, suppliers and any other entity the business has dealings with.

They may even change the names of corporate officers in state documents.

Cybersecurity is a company’s efforts to protect networks, computers, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access. These types of cyber attacks can include theft of a company’s bank account numbers, passwords, and routing numbers.

Some of the reasons thieves are choosing corporate identity theft over consumer identity theft are:

  • Businesses have larger bank account balances than ordinary consumers.
  • The credit and charge accounts in the name of the business generally have higher credit limits than ones for individuals.
  • Large purchases by businesses are not scrutinized as carefully as similar purchases by individuals.
  • Identity information from a business is easier to obtain. Identifiers are posted online, such as a sales tax number as well as the business license number. Business credit reports are easily attainable and contain a wealth of information for would-be thieves to use to their advantage.
  • It is easier to get away with it. Corporate identity thieves are better able to disguise their own identity and existence by hiding behind technology.

Steps You Can Take to Prevent Corporate Identity Theft

  • Pay close attention to all emails from the office of the Secretary of State who sends emails to all who are associated with a business entity whenever a change is made to corporate records.
  • Monitor your business credit reports for any unauthorized activity.

The Georgia Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection does not investigate these crimes, but fully cooperates with investigations conducted by law enforcement. Contact this office if you believe you have been the victim of corporate identity theft.

Co-Parenting and Back to School

Co Parenting PicCo-parenting is rarely easy. It becomes even more difficult when school and extracurricular activities are on the agenda and may conflict with visitation or time the children spend with each parent. The first thing you need to do is check your parenting plan and settlement agreement to see how school time is to be divided between the two of you and how you agreed to deal with extracurricular activities. If you note problems that were not considered at the time the plan was put in place, check with your attorney to see if you have grounds for asking the court for a modification of the Order.

Ellen Kellner, who is herself divorced, has written a book, “The Pro-Child Way: Parenting with an Ex” to help parents who are co-parenting to cope with all the schedule changes that come with school and after school activities.  Some of her suggestions include:

  • Plan for each day and be sure your children know exactly what they are to do and where they are go at the end of the school day. Leave a note in their back packs for them to consult if the daily schedule changes often.
  • Both parents need a copy of the school calendar. Hopefully, both parents can peacefully co-exist and attend school functions together, like Back-to-School night, school plays, sports games and parent conferences.
  • Make the children’s needs a priority. Instead of arguing about who has custody on what day or weekend, be flexible and work around the children’s schedules. If a child wants to stay at one parent’s house in order to get help for a school project that is due, work together to make that happen.
  • Keep communication flowing freely between you and your ex.
  • Make your children feel comfortable enough to express their wishes to both parents.

Other suggestions include:

  • Be sure the school knows which parent to call first in an emergency situation.
  • Take advantage of the school website and make certain that you both have access to it so you know about homework assignments, grade reports and attendance issues.
  • Access to the website will allow you both to communicate with the teacher. Just keep in mind, these are not privileged communications, so be careful what you say.

The Wedding Season and Prenuptial Agreements

Approximately 61,000 marriages take place in Georgia every year. Thousands of those occur in the spring and summer wedding season and many of them will also end in divorce. Many couples will enter into prenuptial agreements prior to actually walking down the aisle. Some of those agreements may later be enforced while others will be nullified. If you are contemplating a prenuptial agreement during this wedding season, there are several factors that you should consider.Wedding pic for blog

Criteria established by the Georgia Supreme Court in the case of Scherer v. Scherer

In 1982, the Georgia Supreme Court was faced with deciding whether the terms of a premarital agreement should be enforced. In its decision, which to date is still applicable, it established three main criteria courts should look at when considering whether or not a prenuptial agreement is enforceable.

  1. Was the agreement fraudulently obtained using duress or did it involve a misrepresentation or a nondisclosure of material facts? The closer to the date of the marriage the agreement is signed, the stronger the chances are of having the agreement invalidated. Additionally, both parties must fully disclose their assets to each other.
  2. Is the agreement unconscionable? An agreement is not unconscionable just because it is unfair. Factors that make it unconscionable include one party fraudulently taking advantage of the other and not fully disclosing assets, or forcing a party to sign the agreement under duress or coercion. Both parties being represented by separate counsel helps to ensure that the agreement will be upheld.
  3. Have facts and circumstances changed so that enforcement of the agreement would be unfair and unreasonable?  Foreseen changes are generally insufficient to invalidate the agreement.

Being sworn in to the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC

Supreme Court BuildingI 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!Supreme Court Group Picture

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.

Supreme court nancy with DougThe 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.

 

 

 

Relocation of the Custodial Parent | Relocation After Divorce

Relocation Custodial Parent After Divorce

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

 

Agreements Between Business PartnersBusiness Agreement Pic

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.

 

Corporate Renewal Fee

A REMINDER TO MY CORPORATE CLIENTS

 

Georgia mapEach 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 nancy@nancyghertner.com.

 

 

 

Divorce, Alimony, Child Support, and Your Taxes

unhappy coupleDivorce 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.

Child Support

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.

Spousal Support

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.

Tax Considerations

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.