Attorney Tiffany Lunn of Lunn Law LLC Answers: What’s An Example of Grandparent’s Obtaining Visitation Rights In Georgia

Attorney Tiffany Lunn read Georgia Supreme Court ruling Vincent v. Vincent  (A15A1244) handed down in September of 2015 that demonstrates the different standards that should be used for ascertaining if Grandparent’s Rights should be awarded. In Vincent,  the parental grandparents petitioned the court for grandparents’ rights because their son (the biological  and legal father) was incarcerated and they wanted access and visitation time with their grandchildren.. Georgia law  on grandparent’s rights is s driven by O.C.G.A §  19-7-3.

O.C.G.A § 19-7-3 reads as follows in its respective parts: “(a) As used in this Code section, the term “grandparent” means the parent of a parent of a minor child, the parent of a minor child’s parent who has died, and the parent of a minor child’s parent whose parental rights have been terminated.

(b) (1) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, any grandparent shall have the right to file an original action for visitation rights to a minor child or to intervene in and seek to obtain visitation rights in any action in which any court in this state shall have before it any question concerning the custody of a minor child, a divorce of the parents or a parent of such minor child, a termination of the parental rights of either parent of such minor child, or visitation rights concerning such minor child or whenever there has been an adoption in which the adopted child has been adopted by the child’s blood relative or by a stepparent, notwithstanding the provisions of Code Section 19-8-19.

(2) This subsection shall not authorize an original action where the parents of the minor child are not separated and the child is living with both parents.

(c) (1) Upon the filing of an original action or upon intervention in an existing proceeding under subsection (b) of this Code section, the court may grant any grandparent of the child reasonable visitation rights if the court finds the health or welfare of the child would be harmed unless such visitation is granted and if the best interests of the child would be served by such visitation. In considering whether the health or welfare of the child would be harmed without such visitation, the court shall consider and may find that harm to the child is reasonably likely to result where, prior to the original action or intervention:

(A) The minor child resided with the grandparent for six months or more;

(B) The grandparent provided financial support for the basic needs of the child for at least one year;

(C) There was an established pattern of regular visitation or child care by the grandparent with the child; or

(D) Any other circumstance exists indicating that emotional or physical harm would be reasonably likely to result if such visitation is not granted.

The court shall make specific written findings of fact in support of its rulings.

(2) An original action requesting visitation rights shall not be filed by any grandparent more than once during any two-year period and shall not be filed during any year in which another custody action has been filed concerning the child. After visitation rights have been granted to any grandparent, the legal custodian, guardian of the person, or parent of the child may petition the court for revocation or amendment of such visitation rights, for good cause shown, which the court, in its discretion, may grant or deny; but such a petition shall not be filed more than once in any two-year period.

(3) While a parent’s decision regarding grandparent visitation shall be given deference by the court, the parent’s decision shall not be conclusive when failure to provide grandparent contact would result in emotional harm to the child. A court may presume that a child who is denied any contact with his or her grandparent or who is not provided some minimal opportunity for contact with his or her grandparent may suffer emotional injury that is harmful to such child’s health. Such presumption shall be a rebuttable presumption.

(4) In no case shall the granting of visitation rights to a grandparent interfere with a child’s school or regularly scheduled extracurricular activities. Visitation time awarded to a grandparent shall not be less than 24 hours in any one-month period.

(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (b) and (c) of this Code section, if one of the parents of a minor child dies, is incapacitated, or is incarcerated, the court may award the parent of the deceased, incapacitated, or incarcerated parent of such minor child reasonable visitation to such child during his or her minority if the court in its discretion finds that such visitation would be in the best interests of the child. The custodial parent’s judgment as to the best interests of the child regarding visitation shall be given deference by the court but shall not be conclusive.

In Vincent, the Georgia Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Georgia found that the trial court had rendered its decision in error by relying solely on subsection (c) of O.C.G.A § 19-7-3 that grants visitation only upon the showing that the health or welfare of the child would be harmed unless visitation is granted and if the best interest of the child would be served by visitation. The higher courts found this was the wrong standard to be used based on the facts and circumstances of this particular case.

The trial court should have relied on subsection (d) of  O.C.G.A § 19-7-3 because the petitioners’ son was incarcerated.  In this case, the court may award reasonable visitation to the grandparents if the court finds that such visitation is in the best interest of the child. You can read the complete opinion here.

 

 

 

Attorney Tiffany Lunn Is Frequently Asked This Question: Can I Put My Spouse Out Of The Marital Home?

Attorney Tiffany Lunn says: No, unless you have a court order that gives you exclusive possession of the martial residence then you cannot remove your spouse even if the residence is titled solely in your name.  The first step toward removing your spouse would be to file for divorce or separate maintenance.  You can request exclusive possession of the residence prior to a final hearing by filing a Motion for Temporary Hearing and requesting and being awarded this property until dissolution of your marriage or finality of the case.

If your spouse is abusive and you are the victim of domestic violence then you can request a Temporary Protection Order. You can request exclusive possession of the marital home upon these facts as well.  If the court finds you believable then your request will be granted on an ex parte basis.  You will shortly after have to attend a court hearing for your Protection Order to be extended.  At this hearing, your spouse will have the opportunity to dispute your allegations of abuse.

Police are often called to martial homes regarding this vary issue.  As a general rule, law enforcement are going to inform you that you must seek court intervention and present a court order for them to get involved. If you have any further questions about this issue, you should contact Attorney Tiffany Lunn of Lunn Law LLC at 770-492-2974 or another experienced family law attorney to explore your legal options in Georgia. It is imperative that you not take matters into your own hands especially if uninformed about the possible consequences.

Division of Marital Home

 

 

Published in: on June 13, 2016 at 5:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Social Security Benefits: Divorce and Death

Divorce and death are highly relevant to one’s Social Security Benefits.  However, many do not give this much consideration especially during dissolution of marriage.  A couple’s 10th anniversary has legal significance in this respect.  However, this significance will not remain relevant to the same degree for much longer due to the national budget. Attorney Tiffany Lunn suggests you read more about this at: How Divorce and Death Affect Social Security Benefits.  You should follow-up with questions by contacting a family law attorney for clarity.

Published in: on May 27, 2016 at 7:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Federal Estate Tax Is Set To Increase in 2016

The federal estate tax is set to increase for those single and married. Knowing this can be important for those that are mindful of estate planning and legacy. This yearly statistic is important to watch for those that have an estate of 2 million plus because in recent years that has been the lowest threshold for implementation of the tax. There a special rules as applies to the threshold for married couples. Practically speaking, having a tax professional and financial planner can take some of the stress out of determining what needs to be done in order to avoid any complications.

Having your estate in order is immensely important regardless of the size of the estate.  Attorney Tiffany Lunn thinks that those that are interested in the federal estate tax threshold for 2016 should peruse the following: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2015/09/18/2016-projections-for-estate-and-gift-tax-limits-in/

 

Published in: on November 7, 2015 at 6:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fayette County Office Location

Fayetteville Office

 

Lunn Law LLC and Attorney Tiffany Lunn have opened a satellite office location at 110 Habersham Drive Fayetteville Ga 30214.  Lunn Law LLC’s Fayette County location was opened to better assist those south of the main office in Jonesboro, GA. Lunn Law LLC will still maintain its central pub office in Jonesboro, GA (Clayton County) and Attorney Tiffany Lunn will be serving the Fayetteville,GA location as well.  If you would like to contact Lunn Law LLC, you should call 770-492-2974.

The main website for Lunn Law LLC and Attorney Tiffany Lunn can be found at www.lunnlaw.com.

Published in: on February 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm  Comments Off on Fayette County Office Location  
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New Divorce Law Could Be Coming To Georgia

Georgia is one of the United States’ leading divorce states.  Couples in Georgia is steadily divorcing. The Georgia House of Representatives is seeking to make obtaining a divorce in Georgia a bit lengthier, in an attempt to discourage divorce.  Georgia legislatures seem to be following other states around the nation, such as North Carolina, in making a legislative attempt to discourage divorce.  For example, North Carolina has a one year waiting period for divorcing couples that may be extended to two years in the coming years.  The proposed new law in Georgia would be a big change from how Georgia divorces are granted today and from years passed.  Attorney Tiffany R. Lunn suggests that you read more about the proposed changes in the article:  Is  the Way We Divorce In America About To Change? Citizens should be encouraged to weigh in with their state representatives with their views on the issue.

Published in: on May 29, 2013 at 1:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Georgia ranks 10th in Domestic Violence Homicides for 2012

Domestic Violence is sometimes linked to family law cases including but not exclusive to divorce, legitimation, and child custody. The Georgia Commission of Family Violence and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence released its 2012 domestic violence homicide report.  Attorney Tiffany Lunn believes the report is an effort to address the problem of domestic violence homicide and to analyze ways to decrease such homicides in the future. The report is a call to action so that the public recognizes the domestic violence is a huge issue in Georgia and in this country. You can find out more information here and on the Fatality Review website.

Published in: on April 13, 2013 at 6:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lunn Law LLC: Relative Adoption

Lunn Law LLC has been handling Step-Parent Adoption for some time.   Step-Parent Adoption is when the spouse of a parent wishes to adopt the child of his or her spouse. Lunn Law LLC have recently decided to start handling relative adoption as well.  Relative Adoption includes grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins etc. as long as all of the other statutory requirements are met.

Lunn Law LLC is excited about expanding its practice in regards to adoption. Lunn Law LLC has found that representing those that want to adopt can be a rewarding area of law because it can change the course of a child’s life. Relative Adoption is becoming much more common in the United States and therefore the need to provide legal counsel is also increasing.  With adoption being a very emotional process, the requirement for all the legal formalities to be followed is crucial.

Read more about Relative Adoption here:

Relative Adoption

Adoption Process and Questions

Relatives Raising Children

Published in: on March 26, 2013 at 7:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Life After Divorce

The judge has signed the Final Judgement and Decree of Divorce and it has been entered into the court’s records. Now the parties have to decide what their next steps will be.  There are a number of things to consider after a divorce and parties should have a plan in place on how they want to approach this new phase in their lives.

Firstly, the parties should make sure they obtain at least one certified copy of the Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce.  A certified copy is often needed for any official business where proof of divorce is required so it isn’t not uncommon where more than one copy will be needed. The court oftentimes will provide the parties with one certified copy, but addition copies beyond the first are often a per page fee.

Secondly, read your Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce again so that you are sure to keep up with your obligations and be sure to read any post-divorce document that your attorney may provide to you as a resource.  It is important that you keep up with obligations so that you are not facing legal action for contempt, placing your judgment as a parental figure in question or worsening your financial status.

Thirdly, if a child or children are involved, you should make sure that all the necessary child support documents have been received by the appropriate agencies and/or employers, if applicable. Additionally, divorced parents must find a way to co-parent in their newly defined roles as unmarried parents and attempt to make the relationship cordial enough that they can function in a healthy way as pertains to the child (ren) involved.

Fourthly, divorce persons may also want to re-evaluate their circle of friends and acquaintances and determine which ones are healthy and positive and which ones they may need to move away from.  Oftentimes, divorced persons have a difficult time with how to correspond with mutual friends of their now ex-spouse.

Fifthly, divorced persons will attempt to make sure that they transfer all assets as dictated in the Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce as soon as possible. When transfers still need to take place it is better to try to get them completed right away so that there is complete finality in regards to joint financial obligations. Doing so will cause less complications.

Lastly, action should be taken to make sure that all important documents are updated.  Such documents include Last Will and Testament, insurance policies, power of attorneys, banking accounts, credit accounts and emergency contact information on file with your employer or other agencies/businesses. See our article pertaining to Last Will and Testaments here.

Lunn Law LLC and Tiffany R. Lunn, Esq want you to be aware of the steps you should take after divorce.  You should make every attempt to follow your Decree of Divorce strictly and speak to an experienced divorce and/or contempt attorney about the particulars of your circumstances if for some reason you are not able to fulfill your obligations.

Published in: on November 28, 2012 at 7:47 pm  Comments Off on Life After Divorce  
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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 on The Importance of Journaling  
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