Navigating Disability in Family Law in Georgia: The DisabiliTEA with Anjel Burgess

Navigating the intersection of disability and family law can present unique challenges and considerations. Individuals with disabilities, particularly those undergoing family law disputes in Georgia, face a landscape filled with both hurdles and protective measures designed to ensure fair treatment and consideration of their specific circumstances. Here, we delve into crucial insights as discussed by shared by Family Law Attorney Sandy Burney with Disability Attorney Anjel BurgessAttorney Anjel Burgess, illuminating how disabilities are factored into family law proceedings, including divorce, child custody, and support.

Understanding the Impact of Disability in a Family Law Proceeding

In the realm of family law, the consideration of a parent’s disability—be it physical or mental—plays a critical role in determining the outcome of cases. Nonetheless, it’s essential to recognize that having a disability does not automatically render a parent unfit for custody. Georgia’s family courts employ a comprehensive approach, focusing on the child’s best interest. This includes a detailed evaluation of several factors, emphasizing the health and capabilities of each parent in question. The aim is to ensure that every decision made serves the welfare and happiness of the child involved.

  • Best Interest of the Child: This is paramount in any custody decision. Factors evaluated include the child’s age, attachment to each parent, each parent’s caregiving history, and the capacity of each parent to continue providing care. The courts are inclined to promote arrangements that support ongoing relationships with both parents, where feasible.
  • Accommodations for Disability: Should a parent have a disability, courts are inclined to consider what accommodations or adjustments might be necessary to facilitate their parenting. This could include modifying visitation schedules, adapting transportation arrangements, or any supportive measures that enable the parent to fulfill their role effectively.
  • Assessment of Parental Abilities: Rather than making assumptions based on the presence of a disability, family courts in Georgia delve into the specifics of how a disability affects a parent’s daily life and, by extension, their parenting capabilities. This might involve input from medical professionals, therapists, or other specialists who can provide insight into the parent’s condition and its management.
  • Non-Discriminatory Approach: It’s crucial to note that the law protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination. This principle extends to family law, where having a disability should not be used unjustly against a parent in custody matters. The courts ensure that all parties are treated equitably, with the child’s welfare as the guiding principle.
  • Collaboration and Co-Parenting: In cases where one parent has a disability, the courts may look favorably on arrangements that demonstrate a willingness to co-parent effectively. This includes making joint decisions, communicating openly about the child’s needs and well-being, and supporting the child’s relationship with the other parent.

Financial Implications and Child Support

One of the most pressing concerns for disabled individuals facing divorce or custody disputes involves financial support mechanisms. In Georgia, disability benefits, whether through SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income), are critical in determining child support obligations and calculations.

  • SSI and Child Support: SSI is a needs-based program designed for individuals with limited income and resources, so its receipt can impact child support calculations. However, the primary goal remains the child’s welfare, leading to tailored support obligations that reflect the financial realities of both parents.
  • SSDI and Child Support: SSDI benefits can influence child support in multiple ways. Notably, auxiliary benefits received by the children due to a parent’s disability are considered in determining the child support obligations, potentially offsetting the amount a disabled parent must pay directly.

Divorce Considerations and Health Insurance

A critical aspect of navigating family law with a disability involves health insurance coverage. During and after divorce proceedings, maintaining health insurance coverage becomes paramount, especially for individuals with ongoing medical needs linked to their disabilities. Georgia law requires careful consideration of health insurance provisions during divorce negotiations, with both parties often needing to address coverage continuity for the disabled spouse until alternative arrangements, like Medicare following SSDI eligibility, become available.

Legal Representation and Support

Securing legal representation is vital for navigating the complexities of family law as it intersects with disability. Given the financial constraints many disabled individuals face, Georgia offers resources, including pro bono services and legal aid organizations, designed to provide legal counsel without exacerbating financial hardships. These services ensure disabled individuals can access informed legal advocacy, vital for protecting their rights and interests in family law disputes.

How Burgess & Christensen Can Help

Going through family law proceedings as an individual with disabilities in Georgia necessitates a comprehensive understanding of the legal landscape and the specific ways disability can impact proceedings. From custody considerations to financial support calculations and health insurance concerns, the law offers provisions to address and accommodate the unique needs and challenges faced by disabled individuals. By leveraging available resources, including specialized legal support, individuals with disabilities can navigate family law disputes with greater confidence and security, ensuring their rights and needs are adequately represented and protected.

For more insights into disability eligibility requirements, or to discuss your specific situation, contact Burgess & Christensen at 770-422-8111 or online. Our experienced team is dedicated to offering compassionate, knowledgeable support tailored to your unique needs.