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March 2011 Archives

The Financial Benefits of Marriage

There's many psychological and emotional reasons for getting married, but what about the financial reasons? The San Francisco Chronicle reports that matrimony can be a good way to save money, increase financial stability, and even raise your credit score.

If both spouses are earning income, then that's more spending money that is available for the couple. Spouses can typically combine their money and bank accounts, which will increase the available credit that they have. More available credit often means a higher credit score. Two incomes in a marriage can also secure a significantly larger loan if you're looking to buy a new home.

Paraplegic Mother Abbie Dorn Wins Visitation Rights

A South Carolina woman gave birth to triplets four years ago, but she was left in a minimally conscious state after the delivery due to medical errors. The mother, Abbie Dorn, is now a paraplegic and can only communicate with people by blinking.

But what is happening to her three children? The Los Angeles Times reported that Dorn was divorced from her husband after the birth and that the father of the children has argued that the children will get no benefit from seeing the mother due to her "vegetative" state. Yet the courts don't completely see eye-to-eye with the father in this case.

Miley Cyrus' Parents Call off Divorce

The parents of 18-year-old celebrity Miley Cyrus filed for a dissolution of marriage last year in a Tennessee court citing irreconcilable differences. But now, it looks like family law attorneys will no longer need to be involved in this divorce case because parents Billy Ray Cyrus and Tish Cyrus have reconciled their relationship. E! Online reports that a judge dismissed the divorce case earlier this month and that the Cyrus family is growing stronger.

The original divorce petition, filed in court last October, stated that the parents wanted to share custody of their three children, then 17-year-old Miley, 16-year-old Braison and 11-year-old Noah. If the couple were to file for a divorce a second time, joint custody of Miley Cyrus wouldn't even be an issue because she is now an adult, at 18 years of age.

Georgia is currently just one of only a few U.S. states that does not provide lawyers for indigent non-custodial parents that are facing incarceration for failure to pay child support. Yet a civil rights group claims that the policy of not providing lawyers to such parents is unlawful, which is why reports that a group of six parents in the state recently filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court.

The lawsuit alleges that the civil rights of parents were violated because the state failed to provide legal representation for indigent parents unable to pay child support. The plaintiffs in this case are being represented by the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta and are seeking to secure lawyers for indigent parents who have been jailed or could be jailed without counsel.

Georgia Has High Rate of Domestic Violence Incidents

Domestic violence continues to be a serious problem all over the United States, but the issue is particularly heating up in the state of Georgia. According to Associated Press, the state lost 129 residents last year to domestic violence. The state of Georgia also now ranks 10th in the country for its rate at which men kill women in single-victim homicides.

On March 23, the Georgia Commission on Family Violence and the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence will be releasing a report on the ways in which the state responds to domestic violence disputes. The report will also offer ways in which future domestic fatalities can be prevented. Perhaps new policies and new ways of domestic violence prevention can be implemented with new information being released on the subject.

Majority of Americans Support Same-Sex Marriage

A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 53 percent of Americans believe that gay marriage should be legal. This is significant because just five years ago, the same poll found that only 36 percent of Americans supported the right of same-sex couples to marry. The recent poll marks the first time that so many in the nation have favored the legalization of same-sex marriage.

The Washington Post reports that the increasingly tolerant views about homosexual relationships is pushing more political groups to support same-sex marriage legalization as well. The Obama Administration announced earlier this month that it would no longer defend the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in court.

The Growing Need For Cohabitation Agreements

It’s no secret that marriage rates in this country are declining. The Huffington Post reported that the Pew Research Center’s findings show that 44 percent of Americans under the age of 30 even believe that marriage is heading for extinction. Instead of marriage (and then divorce), couples are satisfied with simply living together in a monogamous relationship.

Hence, family lawyers have found that there’s now much more demand for cohabitation agreements. FindLaw states that the cohabitation agreement or living together contract is supposed to serve as a legal document that can safeguard the individual interests of each party while they’re in a romantic relationship when living together. These contracts are similar to prenuptial agreements, but they’re for non-married couples.

Dwyane Wade Awarded Sole Custody of His Two Sons

NBA star Dwyane Wade seems to finally be getting his life back on track, with recent improvements on the basketball court and a more stable situation with his family. According to Associated Press, a Chicago court awarded Wade sole "care, custody and control" of his two sons last week. The day after the child custody ruling, Wade had one of the best games of his life by scoring 28 points, making nine assists, five rebounds, and five blocked shots.

Some sports analysts are saying that his improvements on the basketball court and the sole custody ruling in his favor are not a coincidence. As Wade said, "I heard the best news I could possibly hear...So I was like, 'I'm going to go out there and play free and enjoy it.'"

Divorce Rates Decline During Tough Economic Times

MSNBC reports that government data shows a decline in divorce rates between 2007 and 2009. But is this due to more couples being happy with their marriage or the weak economy pushing people to put off divorce?

Financial troubles can be a big reason for marital fights, but couples will find it difficult to get out of a marriage during times of such economic stress. This is because there are financial benefits to staying married, such as a two-person income to pay for housing and the filing of a joint tax return.

Grounds For Annulment in Georgia

Instead of getting a divorce, some married couples will instead choose to end their relationship by having their marriage annulled. the most famous recent example of an annulment was of course, Kenny Chesney and Renee Zellweger in 2005.

An annulment means that a marriage between the two parties was never valid, which in turn means that the legal rights of the marriage can be considered void. For example, no permanent alimony, succession rights, or marital property rights can be awarded if a couple separates by annulment.

Adoption News: March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month

Ability Magazine reports that the month of March typically commemorates the progress toward improving the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This is because March has been proclaimed Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month every year since the time of Ronald Reagan's presidency.

The presidential proclamation of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month is supposed to put into light the pride and promise of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Perhaps this pride and promise can further encourage families to adopt children with developmental disabilities, especially special needs children who are currently in the public foster care system.

Athens Technical College Helping Fathers

Most people would agree that it is important for non-custodial fathers to develop the father-child relationship with their kids, supporting them emotionally and financially; but some men just don't have the resources to provide for their children. Some fathers, for example, are homeless or unemployed. Other parents are unable to pay child support, are facing incarceration, or lack the skills to get a job in today's competitive market.

Yet now there's a way for Georgia fathers to get themselves back on track when it comes to parenthood. Online Athens reports that Athens Technical College now has a fatherhood program that has the goal of providing support services for parents. The Athens Technical College Fatherhood Program assists individuals getting their education by helping parents develop career goals and helping them become successful in the job market.

How Parents Can Help Their Children Through Divorce

According to The Huffington Post, children of divorced parents are at greater risk of mental health problems, school difficulties and problems of getting along with peers, compared to children living in a two-parent household. Yet the greater risk of these problems does not necessarily mean that the children of divorced parents will experience these problems.

How can such difficulties be prevented? A study by the Prevention Research Center at Arizona State University has revealed that an intervention program can help children avoid having difficulties in adolescence. One specific intervention that was studied by the Research Center focused on helping mothers improve their relationship with their children and skills in discipline.

One Small Step For Same-Sex Marriage?

The Obama administration announced last week that the Justice Department would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which could mean that the law will be overturned in the near future.

The Defense of Marriage Act is the law that currently defines marriage between one man and one woman in the federal system. According to NPR, Attorney General Eric Holder says that the administration believes the lawsuits that challenge DOMA should be subject to a higher level of review by the courts. Perhaps some opposition to same-sex marriage is slowly starting to change.