Georgia Law Blog

Racial disparity in jails and prisons narrows

According to a survey from the Council on Criminal Justice, the racial gap in jails and state prisons in Georgia and across the country has narrowed since 2000. The racial gap among those on parole or on probation has also narrowed since then. In that 2000, black people were 15 times more likely to be in a state prison because of a conviction for a drug crime than white people. However, by 2016, they were only five times more likely to be in a state prison compared to white inmates.

However, the report also said that black offenders were being sentenced to longer jail and prison terms regardless of the crime that they had been convicted of. Furthermore, there were still six times as many black male inmates than white male inmates in state prisons as of 2016. There were roughly twice as many black female inmates in state prisons as there were white female inmates in 2016.

Revocable trusts and how to revoke them

Some Georgia residents who have a revocable trust might decide that they no longer want to use it in their estate plan. If this happens, there are certain steps they must take to ensure that the trust is revoked and their wishes are followed.

One man whose parents decided to cancel their trust wondered whether they could revoke the trust and reinstate previous wills, which made no reference to the trust, with a handwritten, signed letter of revocation. His parents were already retitling their assets to move them out of the trust. However, a letter of this nature might not be sufficient to revoke the trusts. There might be documents that the parents would be required to sign. Furthermore, revoking a new will does not automatically reinstate the previous will. The parents would need to create and sign a new will instead.

Visitation rights are enforceable

When a Georgia couple with children begins experiencing marital difficulties, it is not unusual to have conversations about staying together for the sake of the kids. Even after divorce, however, the couple will soon realize that divorced parents of children will be tied together forever, most particularly when the kids are minors. No matter what the nature of the relationship between the exes is, one parent cannot deny the other visitation for frivolous or other non-serious reasons.

The final disposition regarding child custody and visitation becomes an order of the court. The parents have an opportunity to mutually agree on the outcome or are able to voice their opinions if it is a contested issue. Absent some imminent safety concern to the child, family law commentators indicate that the visitation schedule must be adhered to. It can only be changed by returning to court and petitioning for a new order.

Steps to take when resolving international child custody disputes

It is easier now more than ever to build relationships with individuals from other countries. This means that international marriages are increasing. With the increasing number of international marriages comes the increase in international child custody disputes. A Georgia resident who is engaged in this type of dispute or fears that their ex-spouse will take their children out of the country needs to understand how child custody statutes and laws work and how they can protect their children.

The Hague Convention is an international treaty that was designed to protect children from international abductions. It applies to children who are 16 years of age and younger and in countries that have signed this convention. It is important for a parent who is in an international child custody dispute to become familiar with this treaty and understand how it can help a parent get children back who have been taken out of the country against their will.

What to consider when making an estate plan

Georgia residents and others may ask an attorney or another professional for help creating an estate plan. However, it is critical that they understand the details of the plan well enough to explain to others. The structure of a plan will depend on a variety of factors unique to the person who is creating it. Those who have life insurance policies or other assets that come with beneficiary designations should review those designations regularly.

Individuals who have a trust should think carefully about who will fulfill the role of the trustee. In some cases, it may be a good idea to have multiple trustees who can help administer the document in the future. Those who are creating an estate plan will want to consider how assets are distributed to beneficiaries. For instance, it may be possible to leave them directly to the beneficiaries themselves. However, a person can also decide to have them transferred to a trust.

How to stay sane when co-parenting with a narcissist

Georgia parents who are co-parenting with a toxic ex may feel like they are going crazy. The bad-mouthing, accusations, manipulation and constant pushing of limits can make a person feel incredibly frustrated. However, there are a few ways to make it easier to co-parent with a difficult ex.

It does no good to focus on something that can't be controlled. Instead, one should concentrate on their own life and responses. To successfully co-parent with a toxic ex, a person needs to recognize that their buttons will get pushed. However, maintaining a steady temperament can help one stay committed to great parenting.

Breath tests are not as ironclad as once thought

Most Georgia residents link the term "Breathalyzer" with getting pulled over DUI. They understand that if a person fails a breath test, they may be charged and could possibly be arrested. However, research has shown that breath tests are not as reliable as was once thought. There is a lack of transparency and consistency when it comes to DUI testing.

There are a number of factors that have contributed to this. On the one hand, companies that produce breath tests and DUI blood alcohol testing equipment are interested in protecting their intellectual property, so they are not as transparent as some might like when it comes to discussing the technologies behind their equipment. On the other hand, some law enforcement agencies lack sufficient staffing and funding to dedicate the time that might be needed to examine the results of breath and blood alcohol testing.

Construction defects can lead to serious damage

Construction defects that Georgia residents may find in residential or commercial buildings usually refer to a deficiency in the way the building was designed, planned, inspected or constructed. It could mean that the building did not perform to a reasonable degree in the manner that it was intended by the buyer.

Structural integrity issues could be caused by failures in the concrete, carpentry, masonry and foundations. There could be water intrusion, which creates the perfect conditions for mold, electrical issues, mechanical issues or heating issues. When the court looks at construction defects, it usually divides them into four categories. These categories are subsurface deficiencies, design deficiencies, material deficiencies and construction deficiencies.

Estate planning dispute likely after famed musician's death

For Georgia residents and people across the United States, estate planning can be a frequent source of disagreement, especially when there are significant assets involved. If the parties are wealthy and prominent, it can make the situation exponentially more complicated. Such is the case with the recently deceased musician Ric Ocasek and his wife, model Paulina Porizkova.

Mr. Ocasek died in September. He and Ms. Porizkova had been married for three decades, but there is a potential court battle after he signed a new will not long before his death. The new document eliminates her spousal rights due to her alleged abandonment. A divorce was initiated in May 2018. The general procedure regarding an estate plan during a divorce is that it will stay in effect under the assumption that the couple was still married and the estate rights remain in place.

Tips for requesting a change in custody court dates

Divorce, and the custody issues that come with it, can be stressful for parents in Georgia, and fitting court dates for custody hearing around work and other obligations can be even more difficult. In general, courts expect parents to be available for these hearings at the times they are set, but there are circumstances in which a date might be changed.

A parent may have moved to a different state. There may be circumstances in which a change of venue is allowed, but for the most part, courts prefer to hold hearings in the jurisdiction where the child lives. A parent who does attempt to make this change will need to provide proof of address. If the hearing is at a time that clashes with the parent's work, it may be possible to get the time changed with a note from the parent's employer.

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