The Atlanta Family Law News Blog - Find an Atlanta Family Attorney

April 2010 Archives

Each state has its own set of guidelines for determining child support amounts and terms, as explained by FindLaw. Georgia's Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) and the Georgia Child Support Commission (GCSC) jointly transitioned to an Excel-based calculator to help families determine child support, which can be downloaded from the GCSC web site.  

The most recently updated calculator (version 8.2) was released about a month ago and is offered in two formats. Both forms allow direct entry of information into the form, while one of them "auto-populates" the worksheet and related schedules. The latter form is recommended for first-time users.

If it all sounds painfully confusing, you're not alone and you may want to ask a Georgia family law attorney to help you better understand it all. However, the child support calculators walk users through the process with specific instructions.

Georgia's cash-starved schools are in the process of laying off teachers, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, but that won't stop the state's welfare agency from hiring about 150 teachers as tutors for roughly 3,000 foster children. Mark Washington, head of Georgia's Division of Family and Children Services, told reporters the agency plans to hire many of these teachers from among those who have been laid off.

The program, called "Education 2010," will be funded through a $7.4 million grant.

Foster children typically fall behind their peers in educational performance; they often drop out of school, become homeless or end up in jail. Mark Washington said most children who come into state care come from traumatic backgrounds such as child abuse, neglect or other family dysfunctions:

"The more we can do to help them with their education, the better they can succeed in life."

After weeks of speculation, it's finally official: Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock has filed for divorce from allegedly promiscuous husband Jesse James, the Associated Press reported (via Yahoo News). With the media frenzy around the Sandra Bullock divorce, the 45-year-old actress told reporters that she's sad and scared.

But while she's trying to put the past behind her amid stories of her husband's infidelity and the media attention following her Academy Award for "The Blindside," she also has been raising adopted baby boy Louis Bardo Bullock.

She told reporters that she had been raising the boy since bringing him home in January, but decided to keep it a secret until after the Oscars. So how was she handling her new mom responsibilities while preparing for the Academy Awards and dealing with an allegedly unfaithful husband? Has the Sandra Bullock divorce affected her new baby? How is Sandra herself doing?

This is a story about how an adoptee looking for family was finally able to get his wish of meeting his family even at a later age. It just goes to show you that it is never too late to do anything you set your mind to. 

An obituary in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for Roswell resident Gary Wayne Goosman, who died at home last Saturday from prostate cancer, described how he first met members of his birth family a little more than a decade ago. He was born to teenage parents in Wichita, Kansas, who gave him up in an open adoption.

According to FindLaw, an open adoption is one that allows some degree of contact with the birth parents. In Gary Goosman's case, he had his birth certificate, the names of his birth parents and other information about the adoption, but didn't seek out members of his birth family until 13 years ago.

A Georgia family law attorney can discuss the legal implications of an open adoption, while FindLaw provides information about the pros and cons of the various different arrangements.

Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Hampton University family psychology expert Linda Malone-Colón may appear to be unlikely allies. Sen. Sam Brownback is a US senator who champions conservative family values; while Linda Malone-Colón, executive director of the National Center for African American Marriages, works to empower black families.

So it was refreshing to read an opinion piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution co-authored by the two outspoken figures speaking about the national marriage crisis. 

The crux of the article is that the importance of a strong family unit is not a partisan issue.

Sometimes it just makes more sense to have an Atlanta divorce attorney at your side when it comes to dissolving a marriage. But it's not necessary to have legal representation when dividing property or determining matters of child support, discussed in a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about family law centers and the do-it-yourself divorce.

Lara Kaufmann and her (now) ex-husband were able to agree on the terms of their divorce without attorneys, downloaded the necessary forms and paid less than $100 to file their petition in a DeKalb County courthouse:

"If you can agree on the terms and fill in the blanks, you can get started without paying $125 an hour for something you can discuss on your own."

Court systems typically are thought of as constant pillars of a free society unaffected by business and economic cycles. But as with other agencies in Georgia and throughout the country, the Peach State's courts are nearing a budgetary breaking point, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Criminal cases are backlogged, but cannot be delayed too long because of the constitutional rights of defendants. But civil cases, including child custody and child support issues, are now taking about three to four months instead of the standard one month or less.

So if your child custody case is taking much longer than you anticipated, don't blame your Atlanta family law attorney.

If the title of R&B star Usher's new CD ("Raymond v. Raymond") isn't a dead giveaway, a Los Angeles Times review discusses how the Atlanta-based musician's latest offering is all about his recent divorce from Tameka Foster. His full name is Usher Raymond IV, even though he's a one-name celebrity. The Usher divorce failed to make tabloid fodder like most celebrity divorces, but it seems to have been fodder for his new album.

The album dishes out more than a few references to the Usher divorce, but mercifully, there is no ode to Usher's Atlanta divorce attorney. The song "Papers" is all about signing divorce papers:

"All my fellas up in here, if you've had enough and you're ready to sign say -- ready, ready, ready."  

Adopting a child is not at all the same thing as ordering a DVD player online. If the DVD player doesn't work, you just put it back into the box and return it to the retailer. But if an adopted child turns out not to be such a good fit, particularly a child from another country, well that's just too bad.


Real life is much more complicated than that. The story of Tennessee mother Torry Hansen, who put her adopted 7-year-old on a one-way trip to his native Russia,as reported by ABC News, is a case in point. The adopted Russian child's story has sparked a debate nationwide.

The adoptive mother, now free from the burdens of her adopted Russian child, reportedly wants to try her luck again. Although she lives in Tennessee, would any Georgia family lawyers care to wager on whether or not she will be approved for a replacement adoption?

The Division of Family & Children Services, which falls under the management of Georgia's Dept. of Human Services, provides a photo listing of children in need of adoptive families on its website. Most of these children were removed from their birth homes due to neglect, abuse, or abandonment, as the website makes abundantly clear.

And many of these children are teenagers, some as old as 17, and nearly legal adults. While most couples who consider adoption opt for babies, teenagers are no less worthy of a loving home. Adopting teenagers is possible and can help someone change a life. They just come with their own special challenges, as explained by Leslie Zindulka, a licensed clinical social worker writing at

Regardless of a child's age or background, adoptive parents in Atlanta often benefit from the services of a Georgia family law attorney to help get through the complex legal process. But once the child is part of the family, it helps to anticipate challenges before they become problems.