On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled DOMA (known as the Defense of Marriage Act), the law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by the states, unconstitutional by a vote of 5-4.
With DOMA stricken down by the Supreme Court and thinking about the future of gay rights, a question that comes to the minds of many is how does DOMA affect same-sex couples marrying and living in Georgia?
Georgia’s constitutional amendment, passed in 2004, remains intact defining marriage between a man and a woman, and same-sex couples cannot marry or enter into civil unions.
The DOMA ruling has no immediate affect on same-sex marriage bans like Georgia. However, if gay couples in Georgia wanted to get married in one of the 12 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) or Washington D.C., where same-sex marriage is legal, each spouse is eligible to receive federal rights and benefits including Social Security survivor benefits and tax breaks. (The law goes into effect on August 1, 2013 in Minnesota and Rhode Island)
States that recognize civil unions (Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey) grant couples most of the rights of state civil marriage, but provide none of the federal benefits of marriage like Social Security. The rights under civil unions include spousal support, medical decision-making privileges, access to a partner’s insurance, and hospital visitation rights.
For unmarried and same-sex couples living in Georgia, it’s important to possess the following documents:
- Revocable Living Trust
- Last Will and Testament
- Advance Directive for Healthcare (formerly a Living Will)
- Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
- Power of Attorney for Minor Children
The dissolution of DOMA has opened the doors to more rights for the LGBTQ community. As the legal system continues to evolve and attorneys taking on LGBTQ related cases, attorneys will require continuing education and increased intelligence into each state’s law to represent their client and their case.
Speak with Our Domestic Partnership & Family Law Attorneys Today
Understand your rights and options with an initial consultation. To schedule an appointment or to receive additional information, contact the Atlanta Metro attorneys of Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor today at (678) 905-8492 or complete our simple contact form.
With three strategically located offices in Atlanta, Alpharetta, and Marietta, we act as advocates for partners and families throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area, including clients in Atlanta, Marietta, Alpharetta, Buckhead, Canton, Dallas, Decatur, Douglasville, Duluth, Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Kennesaw, Lawrenceville, Milton, Roswell, Sandy Springs and Smyrna.
Written by Mary Stearns-Montgomery
Thursday, 30 May 2013 09:54
In a situation where you need to hire an attorney, it is important to establish good rapport with your lawyer and right from the get-go ensure you feel comfortable sharing all details about your case, confident they will fully represent you, and will fight to win your case and protect your rights.
Here are four vital tips to ensure a healthy and strong relationship with your family law attorney.
#1. Communicate All The Time
Communication has got to be the most significant attribute and cannot be ignored. Always remain in communication with your attorney, no matter how small you think it may be. Communicating to your attorney will ensure any details are not left out and the risk of losing your case lessens. If you feel your attorney is not being responsive enough, tell them. Caring and experienced family law attorneys want clients for the long-term and will appreciate constant feedback.
#2. Ensure Your Attorney Understands Your Case
Whether it’s a case of domestic violence or a Georgia divorce, make sure your attorney understands your case inside and out. Develop a list of questions before your initial meeting and during the first consultation, ask your family law attorney those questions. Consider the following questions to ask:
- Have you ever taken a case like mine?
- Can you walk me through the process of my case?
- What is your success rate on these types of cases?
- What makes you different from other Atlanta attorneys?
By having your attorney answer these questions without hesitation, will confirm they can fully represent you, and ensure a comfortable relationship.
#3. Tell Your Attorney Everything
In Georgia, the attorney-client privilege applies and this protects you from your attorney sharing information to a third-party, unless given your permission. Therefore, tell your attorney all aspects and details about your case so they can get all the facts straight and have a plan of action ready. As mentioned, communicating these details will ensure no details are left out, and you don’t risk losing your case.
#4. Trust Your Attorney
Lastly, a healthy and strong relationship with anyone is built through trust. Your attorney is hired to protect you and provide you the highest level of representation and respect. If you find yourself not trusting your attorney, then it’s a definite signal for you to either end the relationship or tell them and determine a plan for remedying the relationship. As the client, this is your future you’re putting into someone else's hand. It’s a definite deal breaker if you cannot trust your attorney.
Our Experienced Atlanta Metro Family Law Attorneys Will Work Tirelessly To Protect Your Rights
Our experienced Atlanta divorce and family law attorneys are available to meet with you to discuss your case, review your options, and develop a sound legal strategy. Our clients appreciate the supportive and confidential atmosphere our family law offices provide, along with the legal ability and experience of our divorce lawyers. To schedule a consultation with our attorneys today, call us at 678-905-8492 or complete our quick contact form.
Written by Mary Stearns-Montgomery
Thursday, 23 May 2013 08:15
In a divorce involving children, it is important to foster their best interests by maintaining healthy and strong relationships with each parent, and not exposing them to conflict. However, there are certain situations where parents influence their children to choose sides. In extreme cases, parents create the expectation to reject the other parent, and in rare, severe cases, children are manipulated to hate and strongly dislike the other parent without fully understanding why. These are all examples of parental alienation.
Parental alienation is a form of emotional child abuse where a custodial parent belittles and vilifies the other parent to the child.
What Are The Impacts of Parental Alienation?
A parent may resort to damaging their child’s relationship with the other parent at the child’s expense because of:
- Unresolved anger toward the other parent;
- Unresolved issues from their own childhood;
- Personality disorder;
- Insecure with parenting skills;
- Identity issues and;
- New spouses or grandparents
As a result, children will say negative comments about the other parent, have a lack of empathy, and the ongoing perspective that the parent is demonized and evil.
It will take a team approach from family members, health professionals, and legal counsel to remedy an existing case of parental alienation. The goal is to spare children from the emotional scars, negativity, and “brainwash” they have toward the parent and rebuild their love for them.
From a legal perspective, parental alienation is not a form of child abuse and crime in Georgia. Generally, child custody orders are made based on the best interests of the child. If a parent is alienated then there is a breach in the custody order and more than likely, the custody order will be changed. A custody order will also note that both parents will be ordered not to make disparaging remarks about the other parent and if they violate the order, it will be defined as contempt of court.
Speak To Our Caring Divorce and Family Law Attorneys Today
If you are going through a divorce or separation and have questions about parental alienation and the repercussions it has with you and your children, consult with a caring and competent divorce and family lawyer.
Our firm’s founder Mary Stearns-Montgomery has extensive experience representing the best interests of children in family law matter. Mary, along with our family law attorneys, serve as advocates for families throughout the Atlanta and Marietta area. We will help understand your options and the best way to move forward. To schedule a consultation, contact us today at (678) 905-8492 or complete our contact form here.
Recently, our Associate Attorney, Jenni Brown, had an unusual case where she was successful in getting a client an annulment and awarded a significant amount of money for compensatory and punitive damages.
Before our client married her spouse, she knew he was previously married and had shown her a copy of the divorce decree. She took his word and put her trust with him. However, shortly after their marriage she discovered that he was lying to her and was still married. Her husband was still legally married with children and the divorce decree was a fraud. She initially tried to handle the annulment on her own, but when she realized she needed legal assistance she immediately contacted our firm and met with Jenni to discuss her case. Due to her husband’s conduct the client had to fly to Germany where she testified about her husband with his employer, the United States Military.
What Are Grounds For Annulment in Georgia?
In Georgia, it’s rare that a judge will grant an annulment. Under Georgia law, there are six grounds for granting an annulment:
- Intermarriage between parties;
- One of the parties is under 16 years old;
- One of the parties did not have the mental capacity at the time of marriage;
- One of the parties committed bigamy; and outside of these four circumstances, the two common groups used in Georgia:
- Force and;
What Was the Outcome of Our Client’s Case?
In this case, the husband committed bigamy and fraudulently induced the client to marry him. Along with this case, our client was pregnant with his child, but suffered a miscarriage partially due to the stress of the situation. As a result of this stressful and traumatic experience, our client received the annulment and was awarded $25,000 in damages. Her former spouse was responsible for paying all damages including attorney’s fees, legal fees, hospital and therapy visits, as well as punitive damages.
Contact Our Experienced Atlanta Metro Area Divorce and Family Law Attorneys Today
Our client was fortunate enough to find out this information and it goes to show that if you are in a situation where you are contemplating an annulment or a divorce, consult with an experienced family law attorney. The attorneys at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor guide clients all over Georgia through the annulment and divorce process: we understand divorce law, and we can give you the best advice possible. Contact the attorneys at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor today and schedule a consultation by calling (678) 905-8492 or by filling out a contact form.