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June Meeting of DeKalb Bar Family Section Featured Elections and Sponsor Presentations


Georgia Lordby Georgia Lord
Georgia Lord Law

On June 2, the DeKalb Bar Association Family Law Section elected its slate of officers for 2016-17. Alice Limehouse will serve as the section’s chair; Dawn de Klerk as vice-chair; Justin Hayes as secretary; Charlie Bailey as treasurer; and Kyla Lines as past chair. The at-large board members elected were Aisha Blanchard Collins, Amy Daldry, and Georgia Lord. At the June 2 meeting, the section presented outgoing Chair Kyla Lines with a plaque in recognition of her excellent service.

The program also included helpful presentations from several of the section’s sponsors:

George Prezimirski of Fidelity Bank explained the services he can offer as a mortgage broker. He noted that divorce agreements often include provisions requiring one or both of the spouses to qualify for a mortgage. The manner in which the agreement is structured can make all the difference between getting a mortgage and being turned down, he said. This problem is often particularly pressing in situations in which cash has been taken out of the equity of the marital home during the divorce process. George explained that he wants to help counsel figure out how to make the numbers work and maximize as much harmony as possible.

Lisa Lubar of Merrill Lynch has a wealth management practice in which she helps educate her clients regarding planning for the future. She can assist with a wide range of financial decisions, particularly those that arise during the process of divorce litigation. She noted that persons in divorce litigation often want to change the beneficiary designated on their IRA: for instance, she has found, parties often want to change their IRA beneficiary from their spouse to their child. Lisa encouraged counsel to discuss such changes with our clients, so that they can consider how to switch their IRA beneficiaries in a manner that steers clear of several potential problems (e.g., their son or daughter inheriting IRA funds while a very young adult and spending them recklessly). She has found that a trusteed IRA can be very helpful in many situations, providing the tax benefits of an IRA while avoiding the stringent limitations placed upon the authority of IRA custodians and, instead, allowing the owner of the IRA to exercise greater authority over how the funds are disbursed to beneficiaries.

Lila Bradley of Claiborne Fox Bradley LLC described the services the firm provides related to adoptions and assisted reproduction. She noted that many of their clients seek them out at one of the most vulnerable points in their lives. Some seek them out for help in finding a child to bring into their family through an adoption match outside of the agency process. Some clients are pregnant women who are struggling with decision-making regarding whether to release their child for adoption. Some are planning for assisted reproduction. Lila explained that the firm also helps individuals fight for custody, including grandparents. In addition, they assist families facing DFCS involvement. The firm often provides consultations for other attorneys regarding these issues, she said.

Mike Deegan of Southern Dynamic Investigations described the assistance his firm can provide in doing background investigations, party and witness locates, and in investigating complex child custody matters. He explained that many firms that say they offer background checks only provide a regurgitated printout from a database. Such a database report is only the starting point to a true background check, he noted, because there is no single database that includes all criminal records. He recounted that when he has followed up, he has often learned of criminal convictions that were not listed in the standard database. For comprehensive results, he says, an investigator should not only check relevant databases for information, but also check for records in each jurisdiction where the subject of the investigation has lived.

Larry Waller and Lynn Pasqualetti of HLM Financial explained that their firm provides a “one stop shop” for mortgage services, tax services, and financial planning advice. They have been in this community for 30 years. Larry said that he does more than simply put investments into mutual funds: he likes to use common sense, and help clients make money from what is going on in the world. For example, in the wake of the 9/11 attack, he found ways for his clients to make money through investing in security-related services. He also offers forensic accounting services. Lynn offers tax services. She said that her goal as a tax expert is to legally reduce her client’s tax burden.

Bobby Burnett of Just Family Solutions explained that they offer mediation, guardian ad litem, and arbitration services. Bobby offered a few tips regarding each type of service. First, he urged, either get ready for mediation or reset it: do not come to mediation, only to say that you cannot make any decisions until you do more discovery. Regarding the use of a guardian ad litem, he suggests that if you are going to use a GAL, you should get one appointed early in the case, so that the GAL has time to do a good job. Bobby has found that many parents can be on their “best behavior” for a few months, but if the GAL is able to investigate for a little longer, their more genuine conduct tends to come out. Arbitration can often be faster and cheaper than conventional litigation, Bobby said. He noted that it gives the parties the chance to pick their own judges, and they can use that opportunity to select someone who enjoys handling domestic relations cases and has more expertise in family law than many judges.

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