The Importance of Journaling

Whether we are referring to divorce, child custody, contempt or another type of dispute that may end up in court, the importance of journaling important events as they happen can not be understated.  If you have not been journaling important events as they have taken place in your marriage,while co-parenting, or of other contentious situations then you should do so immediately.  It can help you in court and also assist your attorney with preparing the strongest possible case for you.

Post written by: Attorney Tiffany R. Lunn

Phone: 770-492-2974

Published in: on April 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm  Comments Off  
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Georgia Child Custody and Habeas Corpus

Habeas Corpus, as it relates to child custody, is when one person (usually a parent) claims custody rights of a child and is seeking to claim physical custody of such child that is being allegedly detained illegally by another person (usually the other parent or a person desiring a change of custody rights).

In Georgia, the person bringing a habeas corpus action before the Court must have had their custody rights violated, but such an action is not exclusive to a parent of the child. If detention of the child is not in violation of the person’s rights bringing such an action, then habeas corpus in not the appropriate remedy.

There is usually more than one option available to a person considering a writ of habeas corpus.  Speaking with a Georgia attorney that handles child custody matters about the specific facts would greatly assist in determining the best course of action.

Post written by: Attorney Tiffany Lunn

Phone: 770-492-2974

Published in: on July 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm  Comments Off  
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Actions NOT To Take During Your Divorce

As most know, divorcing can be a very stressful and cumbersome experience.  However, there are actions and steps that can and should be taken to make the process easier (See our blog post: Divorce Tips) and there are actions that should be avoided so as to not make a stressful situation worse.

Actions that should be avoided by any divorcing person are:

1) Being Dishonest In Court:  You should tell the truth.  When testifying, credibility is of the utmost importance.  If your credibility is thrown into question, your case can go downhill fast. Let your attorney know of any issues or events that you are “hoping” won’t come up.

2) Being Dishonest or Evasive With Your Attorney: Your attorney can not assist you with something that he or she is not aware of.  You should be honest with any issue or event that could have an impact on your divorce.  It could be very determinative of how your cases is analyzed. All relevant facts are important.  Your attorney is not taking your case to judge you.  Your attorney is seeking to assist you in obtaining the best possible outcome for you and/or your children.

3)Making Bad Financial Decisions Based On Emotion: Poor decisions can be based on love, hostility, regret, sympathy, impatience, grief, fear and/or a number of other emotions.  However, decisions should be weighed carefully and you should talk over any concerns with your attorney. You should prepare and insist on being fully engaged in your divorce, even when you don’t feel like being.

4)Not Producing Documents or Answering Interrogatories (Questions) As Required: Your attorney can tell you if there are any exceptions that apply to your case, but generally you should produce financial documents and answer interrogatories, as requested.  It will make the process of divorce smoother and help you avoid additional fees and court costs that may be sought against you by the opposing party, if you do not comply.

5)Be Uncooperative with a Guardian Ad Litem or Other Court Expert (During Contested Divorce and Child Custody Cases): The expert is involved in your case to assist the Court in reaching a determination.  It is not in your best interest to appear uncooperative and make the expert’s duties more difficult to fulfill.

6)Failing to Analyze Your Case Before Settlement: It is often not wise to reach an agreement prior to fully analyzing all the facts and circumstances. That’s why settlement is at its best once each party has disclosed their financial circumstances and an analysis of the case can be  completed.  By not doing so, there is a greater degree of uncertainty, a higher chance that one of the parties will be seeking post-judgment relief quickly thereafter, and an increased chance of regretting one’s decision.

7 )Picking Your Attorney Solely Based On His/Her Fees: You should pick your attorney based on his/her experience, knowledge, your comfort level and ability to communicate with him/her , their relative attorney fees charged,  and their interest in your case.  Attorney fees charged should be merely one of many factors to be considered.

8 ) Taking Legal Advice From Friends and/or Family:  You must remember that just because someone gives you advice, especially legal advice, that does not mean it is correct.  The law varies based on the facts of each individual case and is not to be generalized to apply across the board.  You should listen to your attorney and ask questions as they arise.  If you would like to obtain independent legal advice (from another attorney) about a particular topic, you should do so.  However, it is wise to not talk about the specifics of your case with friends and family for a number of reasons.

9) Concealing and Transferring Property: Concealing or transferring property to avoid equitable division in a divorce is not a good idea.  The “unknowing” spouse may be awarded any property subject to such concealment and transfer.  The Court, your attorney, and spouse will all likely doubt your credibility.

10) Putting Kids In the Middle of The Divorce: Try to keep your children’s lives as normal as possible.  Do not speak negatively about the other parent to your children. Children are not meant to be therapists or counselors.  Let them be children and take their time adjusting to the change.

Post written by Tiffany R. Lunn Esq.

Phone: 770-492-2974

Published in: on July 12, 2011 at 7:27 pm  Comments Off  
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Georgia Guardian Ad Litems: Their Role In Contested Child Custody and Divorce Cases

A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is an attorney appointed by the Court to represent the best interests of the child/children in a contested child custody or divorce case.  A Guardian Ad Litem is not necessary in every such case.  An appointment usually occurs when one party makes serious allegations about the ability of the party to care for the child/children or when there is a disagreement on who will be the primary custodian.

It is the Guardian Ad Litem’s duty to conduct an investigation into the life of the child/children and provide a report and recommendation to the Court based on that investigation.  If a Guardian Ad Litem is appointed to your case, you should expect some or many of the following to occur: consultations independent of your attorney, home visits, consultations with your attorney, interviews with childcare providers, character witnesses, teachers, and his/her review of various records such as medical, school and/or visitation.

Sometimes, the parties may agree on a particular Guardian Ad Litem, but other times the parties do not get a choice in who the Court appoints. Regardless, you should be cooperative with the Guardian Ad Litem and treat him or her with professional courtesy.  The Guardian Ad Litem is there solely to make a determination of what is in the best interest of your child/children and once that is done, your case is one step closer to being concluded.

Post written by: Tiffany Lunn Esq.

Phone: 770-492-2974

Published in: on May 23, 2011 at 12:43 pm  Comments Off  
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Child Abuse and Neglect in Georgia

Child abuse and neglect can lead to the termination of parental rights, change of custody and/or criminal charges.  If you have knowledge of the abuse or neglect of a minor child, you should report this behavior immediately.

You can contact DFCS directly at:

Child Protective Services
404-651-9361 (phone)
404-657-4483 (fax)
General information: 404-657-3400

Post written by: Attorney Tiffany Lunn

Child Custody: Parent vs. Non-parent/Third Party

Georgia law designates non-parents/third parties into two (2) groups:  Specified party and Non-specified party.  A specified party includes: a grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, sibling or adoptive parent. A non-specified party includes all others.  The importance of these designations in Georgia Child Custody law is based on the difference in legal burden that the court requires by the non-parent via evidence to obtain custody of a minor child when opposed by the child’s parent.

A specified party, listed above, is required to show the court by clear and  convincing evidence that 1) parental custody would harm the child (in order to rebut the presumption in favor of the parent), and 2) the award to the specified party will best promote the child’s best interests.

In contrast, the legal burden of a non-specified party is based upon whether the child custody hearing is an initial determination of custody or a modification.  In an initial custody determination, between a parent and non-specified party, the parent is entitled to custody  unless it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that 1) such parent is unfit or 2) has lost the right to custody under provisions provided by Georgia law.

In a modification action, where a non-parent has been awarded custody in a subsequent modification proceeding, the parent must show 1) a change of condition affecting the welfare of the child and 2) that awarding the parent custody would be in the child’s best interest.

Post written by: Tiffany Lunn Esq

Phone: 770-492-2974

Published in: on January 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm  Comments Off  
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Child Custody Modification and Parent Relocation

Oftentimes, the primary physical custodian of a child may decide to move out-of-state for various reasons and take the minor child/ren with him or her. Such a decision frequently causes great distress for the other parent. A divorce decree routinely has provision where the other parent must be notified a certain number of days prior to any intended move above a specified number of miles.  However, once the required notification has been given that does not prevent the primary physical custodian from moving.

Bodne v. Bodne, 257 Ga. 445, 588 SE2d 728, has been the authority in this area since 2006.  It sets forth that relocation of a primary physical custodian alone cannot constitute a sufficient change in condition to modify custody” The court must consider the best interest of the child and the initial custody award will not always control after any “new and material change in circumstances” that affects the child is considered.  The court will consider the “myriad of factors that have an impact on the child/ren as established by the evidence”. A parent that is seeking to modify custody based on relocation should keep this in mind.

Post written by: Tiffany Lunn Esq

Phone: 770-492-2974

Published in: on October 8, 2010 at 2:27 pm  Comments Off  
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