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Cumming Family Law Blog

Stevie Wonder seeks joint custody of sons in divorce

World-famous musician and composer Stevie Wonder has filed papers seeking the dissolution of his 11-year marriage to fashion designer Kai Millard Morris. The papers reveal that the couple have been separated since 2009. They have two young sons. Wonder has asked for joint custody of the two boys.

In the months ahead, Wonder and Morris will face many of same issues that face Georgia couples dealing with a divorce. Among those issues, child custody is often the most bitter and contentious.

Family law, divorces and grandparents

This scenario seems likely to play out more and more in the future due to two factors. First, according to the AARP, grandparents are spending more and more on their grandkids. Indeed, 25 percent of grandparents reported spending more than $1,000 per year on their grandkids while 37 percent provided daily living expenses.

Second, in a 2000 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down one state's law that permitted courts to award grandparents visitation rights when such visitation was found to be in the best interest of the grandchild.

Grandparents from Georgia who both want to help out financially and enjoy frequent contact with their grandkids when parents are divorced should know several things before proceeding.

Model rule for military child custody cases could help in Georgia

Georgia military service members know that risk comes with their job. But that risk should not extend to losing parenting rights in a child custody dispute in the event of divorce. However, because states have widely varying rules regarding child custody, service members unfamiliar with the intricacies of each state's laws may be risking an adverse child custody outcome.

That may change. The Uniform Law Commission, an influential group of lawyers with the goal of establishing uniform rules across the country, especially in areas of law where consistency across state lines is paramount. The commission drafts uniform laws and then lobbies for state legislatures to pass them.

Georgia Court of Appeals sidesteps ruling on gay adoptions

Georgia's 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage left some issues up in the air. Specifically, the amendment did not directly address whether adoption by same-sex couples is also illegal. In a decision in mid-July, the Georgia Court of Appeals sidestepped an opportunity to resolve the issue.

The case arose out of the break-up of a lesbian couple. Before the break-up, one of the women was artificially inseminated. After she gave birth, she wanted her partner to also be a legal parent. Her partner legally adopted the child in Fulton County in what is known as a "second-parent" adoption.

Georgia note: Divorce rates for older couples accelerating

Over the last 20 years, a trend has emerged that could impact many older Georgia residents. Historically, divorces were seen predominantly among younger couples. However, the divorce rate for older Americans since 1990 has surged with signs that it will only speed up as more and more baby boomers expand their demographic dominance of the population.

Findings by researchers at the National Center for Family & Marriage Research Center indicate that the rate of divorce for Americans 50 years and over has skyrocketed 100 percent in the last two decades. This has held true for couples over 65. Among younger boomers, the divorce rate was actually higher.

Child custody battle in Cruise-Holmes split averted?

It's looking like what was thought to be a mission impossible can be chalked up as a mission accomplished. Georgia readers will likely already have guessed that what we're talking about here is the divorce and child custody battle of actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

Lawyers for Holmes have announced that the two stars have reached an agreement, including over matters of child custody and support. The action comes less than two weeks after Holmes filed to end her five-year marriage to the "Mission: Impossible" hero. And it comes as something of a surprise to a lot of observers.

Being too nice in Georgia divorce could put futures at risk

When Georgia couples separate and head into divorce, few expect the breakup to be amicable. Many couples, however, manage to navigate the divorce process and its related issues such as property division, setting spousal support and child custody and support issues in a friendly manner.

What might surprise many Georgians, however, is that the friendly approach carries its own risks, especially later on. For example, if one party agrees to less spousal support than might be allowed by law and then runs into financial challenges, such as getting sick or losing a job, he or she may be out of luck if the former spouse does not agree to modify the support agreement.

Implications in Georgia of military child custody bill unclear

Georgia residents who have served or are serving in the armed forces may be interested in a bill recently passed by the U.S. House. The bill, which easily passed by a vote of 390-2, would add precautions to prevent members of the armed forces from losing custody of their children solely because of a military deployment.

While the child custody bill, titled the Servicemember Family Protection Act, enjoyed lopsided support in the House, it will likely receive a much less friendly reception in the Senate due to a wide spectrum of opponents.

Holyfield in child support hot water with Georgia

Former heavyweight boxing champ Evander Holyfield, according to reports, is being taken to court by the Georgia Department of Human Services. The agency alleges that Holyfield owes approximately $372,000 in late child support payments.

Georgians in need of child support modification due to declines in their own financial circumstances can learn from Holyfield's legal issues.

Splitting retirement funds may be delicate in Georgia divorces

In addition to being an emotion-draining process, divorcing as one approaches retirement age presents a variety of financial challenges such as determining the appropriate level of spousal support and dividing property. One of the trickier marital assets for Georgia couples to split during a divorce is likely to be a couple's retirement savings.

This is especially true for the over-50 crowd, which has seen its cumulative divorce rate jump in recent years. Couples over 50 now account for one out of four divorces in America. These couples are likely also eyeing retirement, making the issue of retirement asset division especially significant. At the same time, the economy has taken a bite out of many retirement plans.

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