FIVE key things to know about the Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit DRFA.

A Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit is often called a DRFA. The DRFA is a financial statement under oath.  That means that you will have to sign your DRFA in front of a notary stating that it is a true and accurate report of your financial condition.

When is a DRFA required? A DRFA is required for Gwinnett county divorce, Gwinnett County child support modification and custody modifications because they typically include a recalculation of child support.  The same is true for a Barrow County Divorce, or child support modification.  If you have been sued for a child support modification, you will have to complete a new DRFA even if you filed a Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit in your prior divorce case.  The filing of the DRFA is required by the Georgia Uniform Superior Court Rules.

You can find the Gwinnett County Superior Court preferred DRFA Form online at https://www.gwinnettcourts.com/superior/forms-and-documents, or your attorney can provide you with a DRFA in Word or Excel.  The DRFA is requires disclosure of monthly income and expenses, has a section for listing all assets and debts, like bank accounts, real estate, business assets, and credit cards.

If you are completing a Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit for your Georgia family law case, there are five key things you need to know before submitting your DRFA to the court:

1.    You are responsible for completing the DRFA truthfully and accurately.  Your attorney can ask you questions if there is an obvious mistake, but you are the person responsible for providing the truthful information.  You should carefully review your affidavit before submitting it. You don’t want an accidental oversight to make you look dishonest on the stand if you have to testify about your finances.  Do not forget to list all of your bank accounts, valuable assets and if you own your own business, list the business as an asset even if you don’t know the value of the business.

2.    Gross and Net Income may not be what you think they are.  Be sure you understand the differences between gross monthly income and net monthly income.  Your gross monthly income is the amount you are paid before deducting insurance, taxes and other deductions. If you are paid as a 1099 contractor or are self employed, then your gross income is calculated by subtracting your real business expenses from your revenue. Your net income is the amount you are paid after deducting only state taxes, federal taxes and FICA.  Net income for the DRFA does not take into account deductions for insurance and retirement. Be sure to ask your attorney to review your gross and net income on the DRFA. Don’t forget to list bonus income, deferred income, income from side jobs, disability payments, etc.

3.    The DRFA provides a snapshot of your assets and liabilities on the day you complete it.  It will change over time, so make sure it is accurate as of the day you complete and sign it.  For example, since you have to list the balance in every bank account, pick one day and check all the balances on the same day.  Your loan and credit card account balances are typically changing from day to day too, so check and list all the account balances on the same day.

4.    You can file a new DRFA. If your financial situation changes, be sure to let your attorney know. You may need to file a new DRFA. Ask you attorney if you have a change in circumstances. 

5.    The “separate asset” columns only matter in a divorce. If you are in a legitimation case, child custody modification, or other modification, you can ignore the separate asset columns.  If you are divorcing, know the difference between a separate asset and a marital asset.  When completing the asset section of the DRFA, keep in mind that the column for separate asset does not refer to whose name is on the account. Put simply, an asset is only “separate” if it was owned prior to the marriage or inherited or received by gift during the marriage.  Under Georgia law, assets that are gained during the marriage due to one or both parties’ efforts are “marital” regardless of the name on the account.  So, don’t check the box for separate just because your name is the only name on an asset.  Check with you lawyer for these columns.

 

  

 

Post-Divorce: Four Ways to Work Together for a Peaceful Outcome

Divorce is an emotional and challenging time for a family. In the United States, the divorce rate is estimated to be around 50 percent. Which means that many families are dealing with divorce – with and without children.

Post divorce with children means custody arrangements and child support. The right lawyer can help you determine the best possible situation for your children. But on top of the legal situations, dual parenting comes into play. Below are four pieces of advice to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

  • Agree in advance on how to handle situations such as birthdays, holidays, events and visitation. Determining a structure in advance will allow a more peaceful and secure environment for your children. Knowing the schedule in advance increases stability and allows you to plan everyday occasions and special events.
  • Children will often test the boundaries with parents. Discuss and agree to guidelines to raising your children in advance. It is important to have an agreement and open communication in order to communicate the same messaging and similar values.
  • Continue to share important information about your changing life circumstances with each other when possible, so that the children don’t become the unintended messenger between the parents. Open communication can prevent a higher level of stress for your children, which comes with keeping secrets or sharing bad news.
  • Lastly, make a pact to not discuss each other negatively with the kids and to stop the children from speaking disrespectfully about the other parent as well. Respect towards both parents is important when it comes to parenting.

Working together on the above might be challenging at first, but will set both parents and the kids up for better success. Less stress, less question marks, and more collaboration will help the kids to feel safer and will lead to a more seamless post divorce life.

For help in your divorce or custody hearing, call the family law attorneys at Lynn Law Firm in Lawrenceville, Georgia, for a consultation at 770-212-9090.

The Affect of Drug Allegations on Custody and Visitation

In the past five years, deaths related to heroin overdose in the metro Atlanta area have spiked by 3,844%. According to a recent 11Alive Investigative Report, the heroin epidemic is devastating the area between Johns Creek/Alpharetta to Marietta to Atlanta.

As a family law attorney, I have represented clients in divorces and custody modifications on both sides of accusations related to illegal drug use or prescription drug abuse. Although drug use can impact property distribution and alimony in divorces without children, the accusation most often arises in cases concerning custody and visitation.

How do drug allegations affect custody and visitation?

The first thing to know is the legal standard a judge will use when reviewing a case. Georgia judges make decisions in custody cases based on the best interest of the child. In a divorce, both parents begin on equal footing. Judges make the decision using the many factors outlined in O.C.G.A. 19-9-3, which include past parenting of the child in question and ability to parent the child in the future. One of the factors is any evidence of substance abuse by either parent.

The second thing to know is that judges have different standards of proof for different cases. Most people are familiar with the legal standard “beyond a reasonable doubt” that is used in criminal cases; however, this is not used in a divorce.

In a divorce, the standard of proof is “preponderance of the evidence,” which means that drug accusations dont need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the judge must decide if the evidence shows that an accusation is more likely than not to be true. If the evidence is tipped ever so slightly in one parent’s favor, the judge can choose to make that parent the primary custodian.

The judge can vest custody in either parent based on what the judge determines is best for the child. A parent does not have to be unfit to lose primary custody to the other parent. A judge simply chooses the best person to promote the childs welfare and happiness. So, if one parent has a history of drug use, even mild drug use like marijuana, the judge can give the other parent primary custody.

If drugs are an issue in your divorce, its important to have a family law attorney who knows how to obtain the evidence necessary to prove or disprove the allegations. Call Lynn Law Firm in Lawrenceville, Georgia, for more information.