Legal brief: In contested divorce, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

In my roll as a divorce attorney, I recently concluded a long hearing on a claim of contempt of court for violating a divorce order. In the final order, my client lost the marital residence, a house the family had lived in for seven years. But since the children were still in school, the judge ordered that my client would remain in the house until several days after school ended for the summer. Nice, huh? My client got to live in the house for six more months before having to move with the children.

Lauren Deal, attorney-at-law
Lauren Deal is a former teacher and prosecutor who is now in private practice with the Deal Law Firm in Macon. Her areas of practice include Family Law and Criminal Defense.

When the spouse moved back into the house, after my client left, there was a claim of serious, costly damage to the property and theft of many items that were supposed to remain on the property. The damage and theft were, of course, blamed on my client.

My client won the contempt hearing, and did NOT have to pay the $45,000 that the spouse claimed was due for the destruction and loss of property. Why? Because the spouse did not have what I call “independently verifiable proof” that my client did anything wrong. There was no independently verifiable evidence to document the contents and condition of the property at the time of the divorce. Nor was there independently verifiable evidence to document the property at the time my client left.

Unfortunately, this was a difficult divorce, and the attorneys were so glad to be done with it, they neglected a few steps that might have saved my client time, worry, and money down the road.

If you and your spouse own a lot of stuff — whether it’s a house and furniture, tool sheds loaded with tools, expensive camping and outdoor living equipment, or anything else — documentation is key. If one party to the divorce will remain in the house for any period of time without the other, and if the house or its contents will be a contested issue, you must document what’s there and what kind of condition it’s in. A house that’s been lived in with kids and pets can look very different from a house whose only residents were both adults.

What is “independently verifiable proof”? It’s the photographs or video recording taken by an independent party. Many people choose to have each spouse’s divorce attorney, or their paralegals, walk through the house together with both spouses. Take pictures or video of every room, every drawer, ever item worth arguing. Will it cost you? Yes, probably. But it’s better to pay extra upfront than to be confronted with a claim for $45,000 a year after you thought your divorce was done!

DO you HAVE to use your attorney? No, you don’t. You can hire an independent group or person. Home owner’s insurance companies sometimes offer such services as part of documentation for home owner’s insurance policies to guard against fire or other natural disasters and thefts. There are independent sources who will also offer such a service, through home security companies, surveillance camera installers, and others. The most important thing is that you use a trusted source, but also one who is truly independent (not your cousin or your spouse’s best friend).

If you and your spouse can cooperate and work together, the two of you can go through your property alone, or with friends or family members, and using a video app or a digital camera, document for yourselves. Make sure each of you have a copy. Of course, if you can cooperate well enough to accomplish this, chances are that you won’t need it…but divorce is tricky business.

Even if you think that documentation of every single box, bin, and drawer is excessive, do not skip a tour of the home. If my client had had the opportunity to walk through the house with the other spouse and their divorce attorneys before the divorce was finalized and again upon moving out of the house permanently, there would have been independently verifiable proof of the condition and contents of the home.

Although documentation beforehand can’t prove WHO caused damage, or WHO took property against the court order, it can help establish that SOMEONE damaged or took SOMETHING. It also reduces the likelihood that a spouse would intentionally commit bad acts — or would wrongfully accuse the other spouse of committing bad acts.

My client was lucky: we had a good judge, the facts and the law were on our side, and the right outcome was reached. But it could have gone much differently, perhaps even requiring the services of a criminal defense attorney. Regardless, extra care early on may have avoided the situation entirely.

Applying Intentionality to Shopping Georgia’s Sales Tax Holiday

First the facts; Saturday July 30th and Sunday the 31st is the state of Georgia’s first sales tax holiday of the year. This first tax holiday is focused on clothing, computers, and school supplies. The second sales tax holiday will be September 30th through October 2nd and will be for Energy or Water efficient products.

Jim Beall
Jim Beall of Beall Financial Planning, Inc., 2207 Ingleside Ave. in Macon.

This weekend’s primary focus is for getting kids ready to go back to school but that does not limit the sales and purchases to just school supplies or kids size clothing. All clothing including shoes with a sales price of less than $100.00 is tax free during the holiday. Clothing accessories such as jewelry, handbags, watches or eye-wear are not included. Computers, accessories, and peripherals and most software for home and noncommercial use with a price of less than $1,000.00 is also tax free. School supplies purchased for noncommercial use with a sales price of $20.00 or less per item are also included in the sales tax holiday. The full details of what is covered can be found at the State of Georgia’s Department of Revenue website GA Sales Tax Holiday PDF

Intentionality is a mental or physical state of being deliberate or acting with purpose. It is preparing in advance for what you want to achieve. In this case maximizing your limited resources of time and money. Start before you head to assess what clothes you and your family will need for school, work, and any fall sports activities that your family will participate in and start a list. Have you gotten a list of supplies from your children’s school? Go ahead and get that list and print it out to take to the store along with the list of clothes you need along with the sizes you need. You’ve got your list now determine the store or stores you need to shop at to get what is on your lists. What you will want to avoid is buying stuff that is not on your list. People who shop without a list will generally buy more and spend more than those shopping from a list. They also will end up with a lot of impulse purchases that sit around unused or unworn cluttering up their house and closets.

If you are taking your kids shopping with you for their back to school supplies assign them specific items from the list for them to pick out. With younger children give them some control over pens and pencils and other small items this is an ideal time to teach them how to compare prices, work within a budget, and the difference between a want and a need. When going to a store prep them for exactly what you are shopping for and that you are only buying what is on the list. You are priming them for what to expect at the store and it helps them and you resist the many ways stores use your brain against you through your senses to spend more. Older kids are starting to develop their own senses of style and preferences give them more freedom to choose their clothes and school supplies but also give them a strict budget. You are preparing them for life and it’s never too early or late to develop good spending habits.

Shopping intentionally is as simple as assessing what you need, making the list, determining which stores will have what you need and preparing yourself mentally before entering the store to only buy what is on the list. One last thing, if you find that store that has a great deal on the shoes that meet the dress code let your friends know before they drive all over town looking for them.

Get Involved in Preventing Mosquitoes

(NewsUSA) – Sponsored News – Across the country, families are embracing the warmer weather and spending more time outside. This year, as families prepare to host a variety of outdoor gatherings, mosquito prevention and protecting against mosquito bites should be top of mind.

Mosquito PreventionMosquitoes transmit numerous diseases and are often described as one of the deadliest animals on the planet. This year, the Zika virus has made the mainstream news and has become a cause for public concern, especially for women who are or planning to become pregnant. As it is unknown how Zika will spread, particularly in the U.S., practicing caution is warranted.

“Proactivity and public cooperation are huge components of mosquito prevention,” said Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs at the National Pest Management Association. “Homeowners play an important role in helping to reduce mosquito populations and can work to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds throughout the season.”

Fortunately, there are several important measures the American public can take in protecting against the diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. The NPMA is urging homeowners to help in eliminate mosquito breeding grounds on their properties and practice vigilance in wearing proper attire to protect against bites:

* Remove all sources of stagnant water. Standing water can be found in areas such as gutters, buckets, flowerpots and bird baths. Mosquitoes only need 1/2 inch of standing water to breed, so it is essential to minimize these areas to reduce offspring.

* Wear an insect repellent containing DEET or another EPA-registered ingredient to help prevent mosquito bites. The NPMA, in partnership with the CDC, developed an instructional video on how to properly apply insect repellent.

* Minimize outside activity between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active. Also take proactive measures during the day to protect against daytime biters like the Asian tiger mosquito, the main carrier of Zika.

* When outdoors, wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants, socks and closed-toe shoes.

* When hosting guests outside, keep the air moving. Using a fan where you and your guests may lounge makes it less likely mosquitoes will land on you. These pests are not strong fliers, so circulating air can make an outside gathering more pleasant.

By following these tips and actively working to prevent mosquitoes on the home front, you will help reduce the risk of you and your family getting bitten by mosquitoes this season.

10 Questions with Macon’s own Curtis Worthy, 2016 Georgia Music Award nominee

On June 11, 2016, singers, musicians, and performers from all over Georgia gathered at the Grand Opera House in Macon for the 5th annual Georgia Music Awards. Macon native Curtis Worthy was nominated for Best Male Hip-hop Artist 2016, and Macon Community News was fortunate to ask him 10 questions about his music.

Curtis Worthy, who performs as 9th Gutta, is a hip-hop artist, singer, and song writer from Macon. Photo courtesy Curtis Worthy.
Curtis Worthy, who performs as 9th Gutta, is a hip-hop artist, singer, and song writer from Macon. Photo courtesy Curtis Worthy.

Q: What is your performing name?
A: My stage name is 9th Gutta.

Q: How would you describe your music?
A: I’d describe my music as worldly. I try to make music that people from different walks of life cdivan identify with. I incorporate as much of my real life experiences in my music as I can. However, I also like to do concept songs where I can use my imagination and provide some level of escapism for my listeners.

Q: When did you begin making music?
A: I began performing when I was 17 or 18 with a band my cousin was in called Soul Disiac. He used to let me be his hype man. It was my first taste of what it was like to be on stage. Over the years I was able to meet and work with a lot of talented people, and that really helped my growth as an artist. As I gained experience in writing and performing I started to get better at both. Eventually I developed my own style.

Q: Where do you perform?
A: I perform everywhere from night clubs to charity events. My shows are usually on weekends locally and out of state. My shows are booked through my management, LJM Entertainment.

Q: How did it feel to be nominated for a Georgia Music Award as the Best

GuttaAwards
Curtis Worthy at the 5th Annual Georgia Music Awards, where he was nominated for Best Male Hip-hop Artist 2016. Photo courtesy Curtis Worthy.

Male Hip-hop Artist?
A: The nomination for the Georgia Music Awards was really big for me because there are only a handful of acts chosen throughout the entire state. Some of the [other nominees were] signed to major record labels, or are represented by celebrities that were big names in years past, so I was honored to be in the company of those guys. I work really hard to put my music in front of the right people and it felt great to be recognized for what I do.

Q: Who are your musical influences?
A: My influences are all over the place…I love all types of music, but my favorite artists are Stevie Wonder, Prince, Tupac Shakur, Andre 3000, Eminem, T.I.P., 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Aerosmith, and Big Punisher.

Q: What would you like younger performers or fans to know?
A: I’d like to influence the people that feel as if they don’t matter…The people that feel like no one understands the things they go through on a daily basis. My message to them is “You do a matter, you are important, and there are people that can empathize with what you are going through because they face those same obstacles as well”. We have to lean on each other and help one another instead of tearing each other down. Understanding and encouragement can go a long way.

Q: What else do you do besides perform hip-hop?
A: In addition to making hip-hop music, I also write different genre’s of music spanning from Country to Gospel. In my day job I work at a warehouse as an Equipment Operator.

Q: What are your goals?
A: Artistically and professionally, my goal is to build my brand to the point of financial independence.

Q: How has Macon influenced your style and sound?

9GuttaPerforming
9th Gutta performing in a live show. Photo courtesy Curtis Worthy.

A: This city made me who I am musically, the memories created here are in my music, my experiences growing up here are in my music. I feel as though Macon’s musical history has a direct effect on all of its artists. We have something to live up to, astandard that we want to surpass. I’m conscious of that and it makes me try to top whatever I do and be even better every time I write a song, film a video, or have a performance. You always want your city to acknowledge you and be proud to say you’re one of  them.

For contact and booking for 9th Gutta, contact: Leighala J Management (626)787-1301, leighalajmanagement@gmail.com

Southern Fried Championship Wrestling brings professional wrestling to Macon

Three years ago, Charles Anschutz and Chris Nelms attended a wrestling event and thought they could do it better. They wanted to make wrestling like it used to be – an intimate, family-friendly experience for the fans with some of the best talent in the country. After much planning and action, Anschutz and Nelms were able to make this dream a reality when they held their first show at the American Legion in Monroe, Georgia, and Southern Fried Championship Wrestling was born.

Justin Legend Buddy Burke and Chris Nelms
Justin Legend, Buddy Burke and Chris Nelms pose for a picture at the meet and greet fan event at the Harrison Rd. Walmart prior to the show. Photo by Steven Hodges.

Now, SFCW holds regular shows at the Nowell Recreation Center in Monroe. As many as 500 fans have attended these events. SFCW has featured many legends of wrestling such as Scott Hall, Sabu, and Tommy Rich as well as up and coming wrestlers like Luke Gallows, now in WWE, and Moose, who recently made his Impact debut. The current SFCW roster is packed with talent that could be the next household name in wrestling. Macon Mayhem on July 23, 2016, was the first time SFCW has held an event in Macon.

The Macon Mayhem event kicked off with a meet and greet held by SFCW at the Walmart on Harrison Road. There, fans could meet a few of the wrestlers that would be working at the show and get their autographs and pictures. Also, merchandise and specially priced tickets were available.

SlamFormer WWF wrestler and 30 year veteran, Buddy Burke, spoke passionately about the business, saying it was more addictive than anything he knows. Being able to control the emotions of the crowd in the palm of your hand is a feeling that never goes away. Although Burke wrestled his last match in October, you could still see the fire in his eyes and hear the intensity in his voice. One of the things that drew him to SFCW was that its goal was to make the wrestlers accessible to the fans.

ThrowSchool teacher by day, Justin Legend made the transition from mixed martial arts to pro wrestling three years ago and has not looked back. He also has physical evidence of just how committed he is to the business. Justin rolled up the leg of his pants, revealing a scar that nearly ran from his knee to his ankle. Last year, he broke his leg and required eight operations in a four month span. Doctors told him that he would never be able to return to the ring, but that did not stop him. After much training and rehabilitation, his first match back was a no holds barred street match. Legend said that if he only had one match left in him, he wanted to go out in amazing fashion.

“#HeelDaddy” Chris Nelms has been wrestling in the Middle Georgia area for the last ten years, the first five of which were under a mask. He said that in wrestling, you have to always evolve and tweak your character to keep up with the changing preferences of the fans.

As for the show itself, Southern Fried Championship Wrestling had a ring set up in the rear parking of La Bamba Mexican Restaurant on Northside Drive in Macon, marking only the second time SFCW has been held outdoors. Thankfully, the weather cooperated and it did not rain. But, the near 100 degree temperature throughout the day definitely made it tough on the competitors.

The first match of the night got underway just after 6:00 pm, featuring The Great Skrilla against Twisted. The bout started off as a display of technical skill as each wrestler plied their trade, but Twisted resorted to a few shortcuts in the match when the referee wasn’t looking. All of Twisted’s trickery wasn’t enough as Skrilla landed a side suplex that earned him the three count. However, sour grapes took over as Twisted pummelled Skrilla after the match was over.

Next up was Drew Adler versus Odinson. Adler started the match by exiting the ring, attempting to filibuster the match, and outright running away from the gigantic Norseman. Adler was right run. Odinson, who looked like he was straight out of the Valhalla branch of Gold’s Gym, was thoroughly in control of the match until a miscue caused him to shoulder block the ring post. Drew Adler swept in to land a flurry of offensive moves, but in the end it was not enough as Odinson was able to regain control and get the pin.

Fans were then treated to a tag team match as Zach Edwards and Michael Stevens, collectively known as the Beautiful Bald Besties, paraded down to the ring, donned in pink and purple polka dots. Their opponents were the Cruiser Cup Champion Damien Bennett and former Ring of Honor wrestler Sal Rinauro. The Besties used quick tags to work over Bennett, but as the crowd cheered him on, Damien was able to make the hot tag to Rinauro, who delivered a superkick to win the match for his team.

Marvelous Marco then made his way to the ring and was quick to let everyone know that he was from every woman’s dream. The boos of the fans turned to cheers as The Upgrade Brian Kane of the Southern Fried Mafia made his way to the ring. Marco looked very strong in this match, but Brian Kane was able to take him down, much to the delight of the fans.

VictoriousThe next match was one that many in attendance had been waiting for – a taped fist match between Justin Legend and AIWF Georgia Heritage champion “#HeelDaddy” Chris Nelms. Nelms was accompanied to the ring by “The General” Tommy Allen Lee. This match was an absolute, out of control fight from the get go. The action quickly spilled outside the ring where Chris Nelms was busted open when Justin Legend whipped him into the steel ring post. Nelms and Legend fought back and forth outside the ring until The General interjected himself into the match by jabbing his cane into the throat of Justin Legend. Chris Nelms used this opening to work Legend over with a chair. Once the match got back into the ring, Nelms continued the offense. His momentum was only stopped by a jawbreaker from Legend. The General once again got involved in the match when he entered the ring and hit Justin Legend over the head with his cane. At this point, Buddy Burke had seen enough. He ran into the ring and gave Nelms a cutter to even the score. Justin Legend was able to make the pin and had his arm raised in victory as the new AIWF Georgia Heritage champion.

The main event of the evening featured challenger, Trevor Aeon against one half of the SFCW tag team champions as well as the Monroe City champion, Logan Creed, accompanied by Miss Brooklyn. At nearly seven feet tall, Creed towered over Aeon, but the match went back and forth until the referee got a little too close to the action and went down. Aeon quickly used this to his advantage as he leapt outside of the ring, grabbed a chair, and planted Creed head first onto it with a wicked DDT to get a three count. This was the second title change of the evening as Trevor Aeon was crowned the new Monroe City champion.

All in all, each of these athletes wrestled their hearts out and gave a performance worthy of a packed arena. The next opportunity to see SFCW is August 20 in Monroe, Georgia. But, they do have plans to return to Macon at La Bamba again in the future.

Every single fan in attendance went home from the two hour show with a smile on their face. They were able to see world class wrestling up close and personal. While it’s easy to want to be a part of the action, please remember that these athletes are trained professionals and medical staff is always standing by should any of the wrestlers get injured.

You can keep up with all of Southern Fried Championship Wrestling’s events by going to their Facebook page  or follow them on Twitter. They also have a fan club

Note: The event was named “Macon Mayhem” and is not affiliated with the Macon Hockey team.