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Changes to Georgia Family Law

Tonight's post about changes in family law effective today was written by our Savannah family law attorney, David Purvis.

July 1st is the day when many of the laws passed by the Georgia General Assembly and signed by the Governor actually become law. The headline laws for 2015 include legal fireworks, the whitetail deer as the official state mammal, and a gas tax hike.

In the realm of family law, there were no sea changes made by the General Assembly, but as family law practitioners, we must remain diligent at staying on top of the changes that were made. I was frankly surprised last year at how many attorneys continued filing old versions of child support worksheets and parenting plans with children's full birth dates long after the law changed, prohibiting such filings.

Here are some of the highlights for family law:

OCGA §19-6-26 has been amended to change jurisdiction relating to alimony and child support. Contempt proceedings on support obligations have been included, allowing the court that issued the support order to have concurrent jurisdiction with the county where the obligor is found. This means that not only the judge who gave you the ruling can enforce the order, but a judge where the non-paying party lives can enforce it, too.

OCGA §7-4-12-.1 has been amended to expand the statutory 7% interest on child support obligations to all awards rendered pursuant to Title 19 (Domestic Relations). The statute was also amended to allow judges to modify the date on which interest will begin to accrue. So you aren't your ex's free banker any more.

OCGA §19-7-43 has been revised to provide for reimbursement of paternity testing costs incurred by the Department of Human Resources as well as provides for sanctions against a party for failing to cooperate with paternity testing. This means that if a mother brings an action alleging paternity and the genetic testing proves the alleged father is NOT the biological father, the mother may be held financially liable for the costs of the testing. But it also means that a putative father can't escape months of child support by not getting the test done.

OCGA §44-6-190 has been revised to provide for a procedure for creating a tenancy in common when joint tenants with rights of survivorship divorce and the joint tenancy was not disposed with in the divorce decree. This will be extremely helpful in resolving property disputes post-divorce. You'd be surprised how often this comes up.

Our firm had its regular conference call today and the topics was these changes to the laws, effective today. It's one of the ways we stay ahead of the competition - not only are we skilled in marshaling the facts of our cases, but we stay current on every change in the law, even the seemingly minor tweaks.

We have found that works best for you.

David Purvis

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