Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Dodgers' McCourts go back to divorce court

By Edwards & Associates posted in Property Division on Wednesday, May 25, 2011

frank1.jpgThe 2011 baseball season has seen its highs and lows for the Atlanta Braves. Although some fans have been upset by the team's inconsistent performance, they can take solace in the fact that the Braves are not facing the same troubles that the Dodgers are facing. Major League Baseball has already assigned a watchdog to the Dodgers to keep an eye on the team's day-to-day financial condition. In the latest chapter in the property division contest over the Dodgers, the former wife of Dodger's owner Frank McCourt wants the baseball franchise to be sold to keep the team from being taken over by the league.

Jamie McCourt, Frank McCourt's former wife, has filed a claim in Judge Scott Gordon's courtroom to force the sale of the Dodgers. The judge in the case is familiar to the McCourts. Last December, while presiding over the couple's divorce proceedings, Judge Gordon threw out a post-nuptial contract the McCourts had signed in 2004 that would have given Frank McCourt full control of the team.

The ex-Mrs. McCourt said the team has been mismanaged since she was fired as a Dodgers' chief executive by her ex-husband. Her goal, according to court papers, is to get the most value for the franchise for everyone involved, including her ex and the fans. A hearing for arguments on the property division issue is set for June 22.

Media reports say the team is having trouble paying the bills and there are rumors of impending bankruptcy, but Frank McCourt says he's got the financial problems solved. McCourt asserts that the team has cut a $3 billion deal with Fox television for game broadcasts that will bring in a team-saving first payment of $300 million.

The rub for McCourt is that the league must approve that television deal before it becomes reality and that's not something MLB Commissioner Bud Selig says he will do anytime soon. Selig says he won't make any decision on the matter until he gets the results of two separate investigations into the Dodgers' finances. 

Source: Thomson Reuters News and Insight, "Jamie McCourt seeks immediate sale of the Dodgers," Mark Lamport-Stokes, 5/19/2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Grigorieva to drop charges against Mel Gibson

oksana_grigorieva_mel_gibson.jpgAs Mel Gibson and his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva fight their child custody battle, ugly personal conversations and events have been made public. Early in the case, Grigorieva pursued domestic violence charges against Gibson. However, Grigorieva has recently decided to drop these accusations. The couple's problems have not been much of a secret. As with many cases in the public eye, private conversations and interactions have been made public through the media.

Grigorieva says she dropped the accusations to show that she is able to be a good co-parent to the child, as the couple is currently working on a co-parenting plan. To show good faith, she is also looking to have the restraining order against Gibson lifted, so the two can once again have contact.

Gibson never admitted to the domestic violence charges, but did enter a "no contest" plea to one battery charge from last year. He will be undergoing 52 weeks of anger management counseling, and the plea allowed him to avoid admitting guilt.

Even though many things have been leaked, most of the details of the case and the sheriff's investigational findings into the couple's relationship have been tightly sealed. Attorneys on both sides state that they do not wish to make this personal information public because of the affect doing so might have on the couple's young daughter as they continue the custody battle. Because of this tight secrecy, many rumors about the couple have surfaced, and no one is sure whether Grigorieva plans to pursue a civil suit against Gibson once the custody arrangement has been determined.

The child custody dispute between Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva demonstrates how difficult child custody issues can be to resolve. Thankfully, not every child custody case is as high profile or as public as their case is. Nevertheless, every child custody dispute is important. Every child custody case presents its own unique issues and requires its own unique solutions. If you have questions about a child custody issue, an experienced family law attorney can help.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Support modifications for pro athletes pending

child support.jpgNational Football League players were locked out in March. National Basketball League players are expected to join them in June. Players for both groups are at the mercy of ongoing contract negotiations between team owners and players' unions. Right now, neither side is budging and sports agents are becoming edgy.

It's estimated that up to 80 percent of all pro-athletes are paying alimony, child support or both. Many players' financial advisors are reminding their clients that no pay equals no way to pay those bills and are recommending that players ask for support modifications.
Despite high salaries, many players are unprepared if the checks suddenly stop coming. Those who do pay support often have thousands to tens of thousands of dollars deducted each month.

Should an NFL player suddenly stop making an average yearly salary of $1.8 million, financial times could quickly become tough for all those dependent on that money.

When the ball teams don't pay the bills, players must pay and that includes health insurance. The NFL trade association says that could run about $2,000 each month for many. When those costs are multiplied by court-ordered health care costs for children or exes and the costs can run double, triple or more.

When a spouse or parent has a child support or alimony obligation, that obligation was initially calculated by looking at his income. When a parent or ex-spouse suffers an involuntary loss of income, those support obligations can quickly become too much to afford. Simply failing to pay child support or alimony can result in a contempt hearing and the possibility of jail time.

When a person suffers an involuntary loss of income, experienced family law attorneys understand the importance of requesting a downward modification from a family law judge. A successful request for a modification can reduce child support and alimony payments and eliminate the possibility of a contempt hearing.

Source: Bloomberg, "NFL Players Poised to Cut Alimony, Making Wives Industry Dispute Victim," Scott Soshnick, 5/9/20114

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Atlanta producer sued over child support payments

JermaineDupri.jpgA woman living in the Atlanta area is suing Jermaine Dupri alleging the rapper and producer has not paid her court ordered child support. In March, a Fulton County judge found Dupri to be the father of Sarai Jones' now-seven-month-old daughter based on the results of a paternity test.

Dupri was ordered to pay Jones a lump sum of $7,500 plus an additional $2,500 each month for child support. Dupri's lawyer has declined to publicly comment on the lawsuit.

Dupri has had a successful career in hip-hop as a rapper and a producer, producing multiple hits for artists, including Kriss Kross, Mariah Carey and Usher. ranked Dupri as one of the top earners in the industry, earning $12 million in 2006.

However, a local TV station has reported that Dupri may be in a tough financial situation. WSB-TV has reported that Dupri's Atlanta mansion was going through the process of foreclosure before the auction of property was called off. WSB-TV has also reported that Dupri may owe the Georgia Department of Revenue more than $490,000 in back taxes.

When a family court judge calculates a father's child support obligations in Georgia, the judge looks at the income of both parents. In child support cases involving high-income fathers, the amount of child support owed can be quite high. However, many high-income parents see major fluctuations in their income from year-to-year and even month-to-month. A child support obligation can rapidly become unaffordable when a father's income drastically falls.

In situations involving involuntary job loss or an involuntary income, downward modification of child support can be requested from a court. If you have questions about a modifying child support obligations, an experienced family law attorney can help.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Economic conditions affect divorce rate in Georgia

Studies have shown that more marriages end in divorce during a national economic recovery than during a financial crisis. Couples thinking about leaving a marriage tend to feel too uncertain about holding onto a job, selling a home, dividing assets and the extra costs associated with getting divorced to make such a drastic move, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

During the peak of the Great Recession of 2008-2009, couples modified their budgets along with their wishes to breakup. In the recession's first year, the U.S. divorce rate dropped 24 percent, plunging by 57 percent in last year of the crisis. Since the financial recovery began, statistics for marriage dissolutions once again started to creep up, especially among wealthier Americans whose individual stock portfolios have recovered sooner than the overall economy.

The U.S. has the highest divorce rate in the world with almost 5 divorces for every 1,000 people. Twice that many people decide to marry, although during the 19-month recession, even engaged couples delayed wedding plans. A 2009 Pew research poll found that, for adults 35 and younger, 15 percent suspended marriage for economic reasons and 14 percent delayed the idea of having more children.

One area of the economy that has not yet seen a turnaround is the housing market. Many couples who had been hoping for better housing values before divorcing, have become impatient waiting for the price of homes to increase. Weighing the chance that it may take years for economic recovery to affect the value of real estate, many husbands and wives who have been thinking about calling it quits are no longer postponing the move to make permanent divorce plans.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Public opinion supports equal child custody rights for fathers

father and son on bed.jpgIn the past, we have discussed the outdated myth that child custody disputes should usually be resolved in favor of the mother. In Georgia, family law judges are required to consider the best interests of the child first and foremost. The use of the best interests of the child standard demonstrates that there has been progress made towards making custody decisions more gender neutral. However, concerns remain about how gender bias can affect fathers' rights in child custody cases and the law is often slow to change in order to catch up to prevailing views in society.

Recent studies are showing that public opinion is growing increasingly in favor of equal custody rights for both fathers and mothers.

The studies were conducted by psychology professors and students at Arizona State University. In one study, the researchers analyzed the results of elections and public opinion polls and found that there is now great public support for dividing child custody equally between both parents.

A second study went even further by questioning prospective jurors in a local jury pool. The study gave the jurors a series of hypothetical situations and asked the jurors how they would divide child custody when both parents were requesting as much time as possible. In one hypothetical situation, the mother provided 75 percent of childcare duties before the divorce. In the second hypothetical situation, the father provided 75 percent of the childcare duties. In the third hypothetical case, the mother and father divided childcare responsibilities 50-50.

The researchers found that the jurors strongly favored equal child custody for both parents. In the hypothetical case with the 50-50 split, 69 percent of jurors favored equal child custody rights for both parents. Of the rest of the respondents, almost all of the jurors favored having the child live with the mother and spend a lot of time with the father.

Interestingly, the prospective jurors favored equal time even in the hypothetical cases involving a 75-25 pre-divorce division of childcare responsibilities. The study also found no difference of opinion between male and female respondents in the study.

This study is good news for advocates of fathers' rights in that it indicates that public opinion is solidly in favor of an equal division of child custody rights when all other factors are neutral. However, it is important to note that child custody decisions are often made by judges and not by jurors. Judges must consider the best interests of the child when they make child custody decisions. Therefore, it is very important for parents to put their best cases forward by working with an experienced family law attorney when they are faced with a child custody hearing.

Source: Medical News Today, "Public Favors Equal Custody For Children Of Divorce," 5/3/2011