Thursday, March 27, 2008

Custody dispute pits famed producer against Roswell mom


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 03/26/08
Under the professional name "BT," Brian Transeau has produced Sting and Madonna.
He has scored major motion pictures like "Monster," "Stealth" and "The Fast and the Furious." He's written sound tracks for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 and other video games.
And his reputation for blending technology and rhythm have earned his albums a cult-like following.
But for the past few months, Transeau, 37, has gotten more attention for a bitter family feud with a Roswell woman, Karen Durrett, and her daughter, Ashley Duffy. It centers on the break-up of Transeau and Duffy's long relationship and custody and care of their 3-year-old daughter.
Atlanta has become the latest battleground for a struggle that's already wound its way through courts in Maryland and California.

Transeau failed late Tuesday to convince a Fulton County magistrate judge that Durrett should be kept away from his daughter. But Judge Karen Woodson gave lawyers for both sides a week to work out an order keeping the artist and Durrett apart.

"I'm asking everybody here to stop with all the blogs," Woodson said, "to stop all the e-mails, to have no have discussions at all. Nobody goes on 'Montel.' Nothing."
Transeau claimed Tuesday that he feared for his life from Durrett, a Roswell mother of three. He claimed Durrett had threatened him on the phone and posted disturbing messages on the Internet over the past several months.

Transeau and Weinstock said the artist has reason to fear Durrett because of a past that includes years of battering her children, extensive alcohol and drug abuse.
Durrett said her 27-year-old daughter graduated from Roswell High School before meeting Transeau at a concert and eventually moving to Los Angeles.
She testified that she has reformed her life and is now a church-going suburban mother who is no danger to Transeau.

"I did not make any threats to Mr. Transeau," she said, explaining that any blog postings that seemed threatening were just a mother venting anger and not real threats.
Her lawyer, Jason Coffman, argued Transeau was using his client's past as a smear campaign to settle personal scores, not because she's dangerous.

A California court ordered Transeau and Duffy to share custody last year, testimony showed. But in mid-December, Duffy disappeared with the couple's toddler daughter after a custodial visit in Maryland.

Six weeks later, federal authorities, Transeau and private investigators he had hired found Duffy, their little girl and Durrett in a rented apartment in California, according to testimony. Transeau got his daughter back. Duffy was arrested, and said she spent four days in jail before being released without charges.

The couple continue to spar over custody in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Transeau moved the battle to Atlanta because Durrett lives in Roswell.
Earliert his month, Transeau filed suit in Fulton County Superior Court against Durrett, accusing her of defamation and interference with custody.

The suit claims Durrett has damaged Transeau's ability to earn a living by waging a withering online attack on him and helping to arrange for Duffy to take his daughter earlier this year.
He claims some job opportunities have dried up because of postings Durrett placed on various blogs calling Transeau an abuser and someone who emotes "darkness and evil."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Forget silver anniversaries: Many couples grapple with 'gray divorce'

Forget silver anniversaries: Many couples grapple with 'gray divorce'

Associated Press Published on: 03/24/08

It's been nearly a year since Sherman Smith's 33-year marriage ended in a divorce that, he said, his ex-wife wanted after she realized she didn't love him in the same way anymore. "A divorce is kind of like a death, but she's still there and I can't have her," said Smith, 55, of Elliottsburg, Pa. "I was really looking forward to retiring some day and spending more time with her." Smith has spent 18 months in a divorce support group. "I'm not 100 percent, but I'm pretty doggone good," he said. Annie, 69, of Enola, Pa., who didn't want her last name used, has been divorced since September after her husband of 47 years left her for an old high school flame. Annie said she had considered their marriage a happy one. Divorce simply wasn't in the realm of possibilities for them.

"It hit me in the face like a two-ton truck," she said. "I hadn't a clue. It was the most absolutely horrible thing that ever happened to me. I'm still not over it. I'll never be over it." Although the divorce rate is highest among men ages 30 to 34 and women ages 25 to 29, attorneys, marriage counselors and researchers say that increasingly, people in their 50s, 60s and 70s are grappling with what has come to be known as "gray divorce."

Higher incomes, advanced education and longer lives contribute to the trend, said Gordon Nelson, an associate professor of human development and family studies at Penn State. "People might be becoming increasingly more independent," he said. Mature people in long-term marriages often have multiple and complex reasons for calling it quits.

The '60s generation, more focused on happiness and personal fulfillment and less inhibited about divorce, is moving into its 60s, New Cumberland, Pa., psychologist and marriage and family therapist Sally Tice noted. And as people live longer "there's more years to think of putting up" with unhappy marriages, she said. Raising children can take a toll, too.

"It's very typical for couples to grow apart during the adolescent years of their children," Tice said. And if they haven't renewed their relationship, it can fall by the wayside. Carlisle, Pa., divorce and family law attorney Carol Lindsay identified one age-old reason for gray divorce: the midlife crisis. This temporary emotional upheaval is seldom referred to as such by anyone in the midst of one, and it's typically a male phenomenon, she said. "There's this vague longing. Mortality is calling," Lindsay said. "People throw over things they have. ... There's this sense that I missed something."

But it's not always true that older men find it easier to remarry, said Camp Hill attorney Corky Goldstein — whose oldest divorce client was 81 and "very, very unhappy" in a 44-year marriage. "If you don't really have any money, a man in his 70s is not going to attract a younger woman," he said. Yet, while divorce at midlife used to be more of a "male deal," increasingly women are initiating it, Lindsay said. A 2004 AARP study of persons who had divorced between the ages of 40 and 70 confirmed Lindsay's observations: 66 percent of the women surveyed said they had asked for the divorce, compared with 41 percent of the men.

Lindsay believes a different kind of midlife event is often at work with women who, for years, cared for their husband and children. "The hormone for taking care of people goes away and they're sick of it," she said. "They're just not in the nurturing mode any more." Sometimes it has to do with women getting jobs and having the money to leave, coupled with a softening of the taboo against divorce, Lindsay said. Gray divorces generally don't have the grueling, heart-rending custody issues common in younger couple's divorces, but they can be wrought with the complications of property ownership and division of assets.

In Smith's case, his ex-wife had her own pension plan, he said. Annie, a retired teacher, also has her own pension and Social Security, but she resents how the divorce has changed her financial situation. "When my husband and I were together we had enough money to do whatever we wanted and now I'm strapped," she said. Some older couples show their maturity in the way they handle their divorce. "Sometimes there are graceful older people and you are so grateful for them as clients," Lindsay said. "I always think a long marriage deserves to be honored with a
respectful divorce."
• Join a support group.
• Develop same-sex friendships.
• Volunteer.
• Don't isolate yourself.
Seek out the medical, mental health and spiritual resources. • Give yourself time to grieve and heal.
• Consult an attorney and a financial adviser before signing any documents regarding marital assets. Choose an attorney who will advise you of your rights and represent your interests but who won't escalate matters beyond your comfort level. You both are going to want to attend the grandchildren's birthday parties.

Sources: DivorceCare support group leaders Beth and Wayne Janis, Mechanicsburg, Pa.; attorney Jeanne Costopoulos, Camp Hill, Pa., attorney Corky Goldstein.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How Much Life Insurance do You Need After Divorce?

How Much Life Insurance Do You Need After Divorce?
(provided by Ann O'Flanagan, Esq.)

Experts believe that a surviving spouse with children needs at least $100,000.00 worth of insurance for every $500.00 of pre-tax income. If you require $3,000.00 a month ($36,000.00 per year) to cover your expenses, your spouse should have $600,000.00 of life insurance. ($3,000.00/500.00 = 6; 6 x 100,000.00 = $600,000.00) of insurance to meet your bills. The surviving souse would invest the $600,000.00 at a conservative interest rate of 6 % which would generate $36,000.00 a year in interest before taxes. Because the surviving spouse and children would be living off the interest, rather than the principal. the income would last forever. Many people feel that $50.000.00 worth of insurance, that's commonly part of, an employee benefit's package. is enough. It is not.Therefore, at the time of divorce, it is imperative that additional insurance be obtained so that, in the event that your spouse dies, and alimony and child support ceases, the surviving spouse and children have sufficient funds to live on.To get life insurance "by telephone or on line" the following sources can be considered:

InsuranceQuote Services 800-972-1104

MasterQuote 800-337-5433

QuickQuote 800-867-2404 800-556-9393

TermQuote 800-444-8376

Information provided by: Ann O'Flanagan located at

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Credit Card Debt in Divorce

Credit Card Debt in Divorce

While divorcing couples frequently carry credit card debt, often little attention is paid to these debts beyond their being assigned to one spouse or the other in the divorce judgment. Care must be taken that a spouse will not be held responsible for additional credit card debts incurred by the other, and that each spouse is protected to the maximum extent possible if the other fails to make payments and ultimately to pay off their share of any joint credit card debt. Remember: Creditors are not obligated to respect the terms of your divorce judgment.

Assigning Responsibility for Credit Card Debt

Often the parties to a divorce will assign to each spouse the responsibility for specific credit cards and their associated debt. To help ensure that all joint debts are identified, including any credit cards which may have been taken out by one spouse without the other's knowledge, it may be beneficial to get copies of the credit reports of the divorcing couple, and to make sure that the debt from any creditor not paid off in full is assigned to one spouse or the other.

Cutting Off Your Liability For Additional Debt

When you divorce, you should make sure that you either close any joint credit cards, or that at a minimum you have your name removed from any joint accounts which will continue to be used by your spouse. This will not end your liability for debts incurred up to that point, but should end your responsibility for any new debts incurred on those accounts by your spouse. Similarly, if you hold any accounts in your own name for which your spouse is an authorized signer, you should revoke the authorization.
Protecting Yourself From Default or Bankruptcy

It is not unusual after a divorce for one spouse to fail to pay off a joint credit card debt which predates the divorce. If appropriate steps weren't taken to cut off liability, sometimes a joint account will remain open with both spouses liable for the new charges, even though the new charges are made after divorce. The debt load on these cards, delinquent payments, and any default or referral to a collection agency, will appear on the credit reports of both account holders. The creditor will also be able to pursue either or both account holders for payment, including interest, penalties, and possibly legal fees. The creditor does not have to be fair - if it wants, it can direct all of its collection efforts at the innocent spouse.
Thus, a divorce judgment should include a deadline by which the joint credit card debts allocated to each spouse will be paid off in full, and provide for appropriate remedies in the event that repayment does not occur. Note that refinancing credit card debt is often as simple as applying for a new credit card and requesting a balance transfer.

There should be a "hold harmless" clause in the divorce judgment which prevents the spouse who is responsible for the debt from trying to shift any responsibility back onto the other spouse, and an "indemnification" clause which requires the spouse who is responsible for the debt to repay any losses suffered by the other spouse, including any payments made toward the debt by that spouse, or legal fees incurred in defending against a collection action or returning to court to compel compliance with the terms of the divorce judgment.

There is also language which can be included in a divorce judgment, which can help protect an ex-spouse from being left without recourse if the other spouse declares bankruptcy before paying off the credit card debts. Ask your lawyer if it is possible to include language which will make the spouse's obligations under the divorce judgment non-dischargeable, or significantly less likely to be discharged, based upon the manner in which the debt and repayment obligation are characterized in the divorce judgment, for example by characterizing the timely payment of the debt as being necessary for the support of the other spouse.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Estranged evangelists meet, no resolution yet

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/10/08

National evangelist Juanita Bynum on Monday finally met with her estranged husband, Bishop Thomas W. Weeks III, and his attorney for a deposition in preparation for divorce proceedings. The meeting, which began at 9 a.m. in the law office of Randy Kessler, attorney for Weeks, lasted for more than six hours. Bynum came to the deposition with her attorney, Karla Walker, of Valdosta. Weeks, who will face criminal charges Tuesday for allegedly beating Bynum, also attended the meeting. So did Ed Garland, his defense attorney in the criminal case.

The deposition lasted for about three hours, but the group continued a closed-door discussion afterwards. Weeks emerged from the law office about 3:40 p.m. smiling.

"Things are good, they are always good," he said as the elevator doors closed behind him. Ten minutes later, Bynum appeared in black coat and tinted sunglasses. When asked was the divorce resolved she said "no," and would not comment further.

Kessler sought a court order to sit Bynum down for a deposition after several attempts to meet with the pastor failed because of scheduling conflicts. He said he wanted an opportunity to talk with Bynum on the record about allegations of cruelty in the marriage before the divorce case went to court. The couple has been separated since June.

Kessler said he asked Bynum what she would accuse Weeks of and what Bynum did to Weeks in their stormy marriage. "This was a normal standard deposition," Kessler said. "There was no yelling and arguing. I think it was helpful for everybody."

At about 1:50 p.m. the attorneys Kessler, Walker and Garland left the law office to go to lunch and talk. Garland would not say why he attended the proceedings.
Bynum and Weeks remained in the law office while their lawyers, who didn't return by the close of the business day, were away. A lawyer at Kessler's firm, Monica Hanrahan said she later joined the couple but would not say what was being discussed.

Kessler returned alone after 5 p.m. and said the divorce case and criminal case share similarities. Bynum also has alleged abuse in the divorce case. She is seeking divorce for "cruel treatment." "The facts are the same," Kessler said. "She is claiming mental cruelty based on the incident that occurred on Aug. 21."

On that day Weeks allegedly assaulted Bynum in the Renaissance Concourse Hotel parking lot near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Garland was in the law office while Bynum was deposed, which allowed him to hear the testimony of the main witness in the criminal case the day before trial, scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. today in Fulton County Superior Court.

Garland will be representing Weeks as he faces charges of aggravated assault, terroristic threats and simple battery. Weeks has pleaded not guilty and has said that he has been a victim of domestic violence in his marriage to Bynum.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Family Wars: The Alienation of Children

Family Wars: The Alienation of Children

Composite case from actual examples
The parents of Amy (age 10) and Kevin (age 7) are divorcing after 13 years of marriage. Their father, by temporary stipulation, has moved from the marital home. He is entitled to visit with the children on alternating weekends and one evening, during the week. Soon, the children begin to refuse to go with him. At first, they do not want to leave Mom; they say that they are afraid to go. When Dad comes to the house, Mom tells him that she\he will "not force the children to go." "Visitation is up to them." and she\he will "not interfere in their decision".

The children refuse to talk with him on the phone. Mom calls him names when he telephones and complains constantly about her financial situation, blaming him, all within hearing of the children.Dad attempts to talk with the children about the situation, then to bribe them with movies, shopping trips, toys. They become more and more sullen with him and resistant to coming. Anything, routine doctor visits, invitations from a friend, a visit to Aunt Beth, serves as an excuse to avoid visits.A court appointed guardian ad litem learns from the children that "Dad is abusive and mean to us. " They do not want to go on visits. However, when asked to give specific examples of how he is abusive, their stories are not convincing, "He yells too loud when we make noise." "He made me climb all the way to the top of a mountain." "He gets mad at me about my homework." "He makes me wear my bike helmet." "He pounds the wall to get us up in the morning and it makes me afraid that he'll hit me." They say that he has never hit them, although they state that they are very afraid that he will. These children are in the process of becoming alienated from their father.An increasing number of children are experiencing the divorce of their parents or litigation over their custody some time during their minority. Some children experience the concerted, albeit often unconscious or unintended, attempt of one parent to alienate them from their other parent. It is the purpose of this article to alert lawyers, judges and parents involved in divorce and custody wars to the serious nature of parental alienation and to provide suggestions for court based intervention.
I. Definitions
II. Harm to The Child
III. Motivation for Alienation
IV. Recognition of Alienating Behaviors

1. Prevention

Information provided by: Dr. Peggie Ward located at

The perfect client

The perfect client Written by C. Sean Stephens

What a lawyer thinks of as a “perfect client” in the domestic relations sense is a client who helps the process of the dissolution, custody, or support matter along. We know how hard this process is to be going through, but it can be a much more difficult process the longer it drags on — and a much more expensive one for you. (Although we like getting paid as much as anyone else, we believe we should be problem-solvers, not problem-creators.)

Good attorneys will always treat their clients — all of their clients — with the same professionalism and respect they treat any other client. However, by helping us help you, you can make the process smoother, lower your costs, and get a better result! Here are some things you can do to help your attorney in your domestic relations case, to make things run more smoothly.

Tell us everything — the good, the bad, the ugly. We want to know the nastiest things the other side might throw at us, true or not. If you have hidden sources of income, a stake in Anna Nicole Smith’s love nest in the Bahamas, or a rare coin collection, we need to know and plan accordingly.

Provide us with your tax, banking, investment, insurance, titles to cars and whatnot, and any other requested information quickly in the process (if you can bring this stuff to your first meeting, we might very well cry with joy). If you’re not in a place where you can get the information, sign a release that allows the attorney to request the information on your behalf.
Keep in contact with us. We’ll provide you with frequent updates, but there are times when we need to get in contact with you quickly, too.

Similarly, let us know the best way to contact you. If you’re one of those people who hates checking her voicemail but lives on her computer (wait, that would be me when I’m at home), let us know your email address and if that’s a better way to stay in touch.

Understand that a contested divorce may take a while, even if it ultimately settles. We want closure for you as soon as we can get it, too, but not at the expense of a good settlement for you.
If your case involves child custody, parenting time, or support, sign up and follow through with the mandatory education classes as soon as you can.

Remember that your attorney is there to give you expert advice and recommendations, but isn’t going to be able to make the final decision about whether or not you should take a settlement. He can and will tell you if it’s a good idea or a bad idea, and what the benefits and pitfalls of an offer might entail, but the ultimate decision is going to be yours. Also, if you don’t like the way negotiations may be headed, if you change your mind about the way the case is going, or if you’re just generally unhappy about something, please say so. We’d much rather know about it (and fix it) than to find out much, much later that you’d been unhappy for a very long time.

Advice aside, we know that this may be the, or one of the most difficult times of your life. We treat all of our clients as we would hope to be treated under the same circumstances: with diligence to their case, courtesy, the utmost respect, and the highest level of customer service possible.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Do I have to pay alimony?

The short answer is: “It depends.”

Georgia law provides that alimony, or spousal support, may be awarded to one spouse in the event of a divorce or separation. At times, spousal support is awarded on a temporary basis before the divorce is final. Alimony may be paid to either a husband or a wife. Georgia law provides 8 factors which the court determine alimony.

1. The standard of living established during the marriage;
2. The duration of the marriage;
3. The age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties;
4. The financial resources of each party;
5. Where applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable him to find appropriate employment;
6. The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party;
7. The condition of the parties, including the separate estate, earning capacity, and fixed liabilities of the parties; and
8. Such other relevant factors as the court deems equitable and proper.

Alimony may not be awarded to a requesting spouse if the separation between the parties was caused by that party's adultery or desertion. There are also other, variable factors that will influence a judge’s decision to award alimony. Some of these factors are within the client’s control such as:

  • A party’s behavior during trial;
  • A party’s willingness to be open and honest in disclosing financial information
  • The age of the children of the marriage, if any
  • Both parties’ employment status / prospects

Georgia Code §19-6-1 & §19-6-5