As written by Pat Fox and published in the Alpharetta Roswell Herald on December 28, 2016.
Amid the swirl of recent attention focused on Roswell’s Historic District, Rachel Platt sits behind a desk in her new law office with satisfaction.
The Roswell attorney is basking in her new digs at 138 Bulloch Ave., right in the heart of the Historic District. The new law office sits across the street from Mimosa Hall, the site of recent controversy over its recent sale to Hedgewood Homes. Hedgewood is proposing to build some 50 cottages on the 9-acre property while preserving the 6,000-square-foot antebellum mansion. (See December 22 article).
Platt feels comfortable that her restoration of the nearby Dolvin House fits the profile the city would like to see in the area.
Once referred to as the “Roswell White House,” the Dolvin House was home to Jimmy Carter’s “Aunt Sissy,” Emily Frances Gordy Dolvin, who was among the future president’s first and most fervent supporters in his early political career.
There is certainly a “coolness factor” in operating a law office in a place where Jimmy Carter conducted some of his political strategy sessions.
“My husband and I were looking to buy a property in the downtown Roswell area where I would operate my law firm,” Platt said. “I looked at a bunch of different houses, but this house – the history and the old antebellum feel, the old porch – is just exactly what I pictured when I pictured. You know, that kind of ‘old school’ law firm feel.”
The ties to Jimmy Carter only added to her interest, she said.
“Roswell has such a rich history,” Platt said. “Being a part of that is so neat, so fascinating. We really enjoy it.”
Platt grew up in Roswell after her parents moved to the area when she was 8. She attended Roswell High School. After earning her law degree at UGA, she moved back to the area and set up practice in Sandy Springs.
Six years ago, she and her husband, Ryan Goodman, moved back to Roswell but she maintained the Sandy Springs office which was in a three-story office building.
In recent years, though, she was looking for a place to hang her shingle in the city of her youth.
The Dolvin House went on the market in January, listing for $775,000. The Platts closed on the property in June. They spent the rest of the summer renovating.
“It had a really good structure and it didn’t need a ton of work,” she said. “Most of the renovation involved cosmetic improvements and restorations.”
Platt said she was in contact with the Roswell Historical Preservation Commission from the get-go.
“Once they realized we were going to keep the character of the property – we changed very little on the outside – they were very easy to work with,” she said.
The Platts removed the old carpeting and had new wood floors installed, modernized the kitchen and an upstairs kitchenette and eliminated some of the bathrooms.
“There were a lot of bathrooms, and you don’t need a lot of bathrooms, showers and tubs in an office,” she said.
Throughout the process, Platt was careful to not overdo the remodeling.
“We wanted to certainly keep the feeling of the house, and kind of decorate that,” she said. “We put in wood floors and gave it a paint job, just a facelift.”
She also ensured the home was decorated suitably for an office. She opened for business Oct. 15. Her firm consists of one other attorney and a paralegal. The home also provides offices for three other lawyers.
In the two months since opening, Platt said she’s getting used to the feel.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “I have really loved it more than I ever thought I could. I love being in Roswell more than I thought I would when I moved over the river.”
Part of the professional homecoming has involved getting acquainted with the local business community.
“There’s a thriving business community in Roswell, other lawyers, other businesses, and I love operating out of the house,” she said. “And I love just being in the house and having it be my house. It feels more homey, more comfortable.”
Founder, Rachel L. Platt and attorney Kristin Barnhart, at The Platt Law Firm, have been recognized as one of Atlanta Magazine’s 2017 Super Lawyer. Both Ms. Platt and Ms. Barnhart received the honor after the completion of the region’s patented selection process, comprised of peer nomination, independent research, and peer review.
Ms. Platt has been practicing family law for more than eight years, and has built a full-service family law firm dedicated to matters, including divorce, child custody and support, adoption, same-sex couples, and legitimation. Ms. Platt also represents parents and their children in educational law matters, including IEPs and due process matters.Ms. Barnhart has been practicing family law for over 4 years, including divorce, child custody, temporary protective order, domestic violence, and post-nup agreements.
Super Lawyers has been recognizing the top lawyers in Georgia for years. In the spirit of Super Lawyers’ mission to bring visibility to attorneys who exhibit excellence in practice, the list is published in the Atlanta Magazine each year. Individuals seeking top-rated lawyers online can visit SuperLawyers.com for one of the web’s most trusted online directories. For more information, visit SuperLawyers.com.
- Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a research-driven, peer influenced rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The mission of Super Lawyers is to bring visibility to those attorneys who exhibit excellence in practice. The Super Lawyers lists are published in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines across the country. The Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information, visit SuperLawyers.com.
When one spouse wants to call it quits but cannot find his or her missing partner, divorce by publication becomes an option. Divorce by publication happens only after a judge has been convinced, based on a sworn declaration, of the serving party’s inability to find the Respondent after trying hard. Service by publication is commonly used in a divorce action to serve a spouse who has disappeared without a leaving a forwarding address.
When the Respondent cannot or will not be found (and, therefore, fails to respond to the Summons), the Petitioner must conduct what is termed a “diligent search” followed by Service by Publication.
Georgia’s Search Requirements and Process
- Georgia courts require a good faith effort by the Petitioner to prove that he or she has made a genuine search for his or her missing partner. This search entails:
- Checking the telephone book and directory assistance in the area where the Petitioner lives;
- Checking the telephone book and directory assistance in the area where the Respondent is last known to have lived;
- Asking friends and relatives who might know the location of the missing spouse;
- Checking records of the tax collector and property assessor to see if the missing spouse owns property;
- Contacting the department of motor vehicles for registrations in the name of the missing spouse; and
- Checking any other possible sources that might lead to a current address.
In order to be eligible for a “Divorce by Publication”, you must complete and submit an Affidavit of Diligent Search to the court. This document clearly outlines all of the actions you have taken to locate your spouse, essentially proving to the court that your spouse absolutely can’t be found.
There are a lot of details with which to concern oneself before filing for a divorce by publication. Having the assistance of a skilled divorce attorney can help make the process go more smoothly and reduce the stress involved. If you have questions about divorce, call The Platt Law Firm to set-up a consultation with one of our experienced Georgia divorce attorneys who can meet with you and discuss how to proceed.
In Georgia, failure to pay court ordered child support comes with a variety of penalties. Such penalties generally include: contempt citations, suspension of driver’s, hunting and fishing licenses, denial of passport applications, among others. These penalties were designed in an effort to persuade individuals to be in compliance with court ordered child support. However, while losing your driver’s license may not sound too severe, the ultimate penalty for failure to pay court ordered child support, can be a termination of parental rights.
Georgia statutory law states the following with respect to the termination of non-custodial parents’ parental rights for non-payment of child support, O.C.G.A. § 15-11-94(b)(2). The two most important elements of this law are: the non-payment must be “wanton and willful” and the non-payment must be in contravention of a court order to pay child support.
According to the Georgia Court of Appeals, “wanton and willful” is defined as “without reasonable excuse, with a conscious disregard for duty, willingly, voluntarily, and intentionally.” Thus, for example, if a parent’s non-payment is due to being laid off from his or her employment, such non-payment is not “wanton and willful.” In Uniroyal Goodrich Tire, Co. et al. v. Adams et al., 221 Ga. App. 705 (1996), the court noted that a non-custodial parent’s parental rights may not be terminated due to failure to pay child support if no court order was ever issued obligating that parent to pay child support.
With the above in mind, if you are behind on your child support payments or if your spouse has not made a child support payment in months, contact The Platt Law Firm to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney, (404) 255-3434.
After a divorce is final, many people still have a lot of work to do before they can move forward into the next phases of their lives. Georgia residents need to make sure that they update several key documents after they divorce to reflect their change in marital status, otherwise they could be setting themselves up for large problems in the future.
To begin, many married couples make future plans together after they marry, and they often leave all or most of their assets to their spouses in their wills. After a couple divorces, it is crucial that the spouses update their wills so that their ex-spouses are no longer beneficiaries. Additionally, people should choose new beneficiaries for assets such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, transfer on death bank accounts and annuities. Changing beneficiary designations in a will does not control the beneficiary designation on these assets, so people need to update these assets separately.
Sometimes, in drafting of a will, many Georgia residents will also draft a document called an Advance Directive for Healthcare, which outlines people’s wishes for medical care in the event that they become incapacitated, as well as nominate others to make decisions about medical care if they are unable to make decisions themselves. Many who have an Advance Directive for Healthcare opt to have their spouses act as medical care decision-makers, so it is important for people to review these documents after divorce – naming a different person decision-making authority in medical emergencies.
Third, divorced spouses should immediately remove their ex-spouses from any financial account records, such as bank accounts, investment accounts, and credit cards. Additionally, people should report any name changes that may have resulted from the divorce.
And, finally, as part of the property division accompanying divorce, many people find themselves needing to transfer titles for real estate and personal property such as automobiles and boats. People should make sure that deeds for real estate are executed and recorded properly and that the new deeds reflect any name changes that occurred. It is particularly important for people who are moving out of the marital homes to ensure that their names are removed from mortgage documents so that they are no longer liable for mortgage payments.
There are a lot of details with which to concern oneself during and immediately after divorce. Having the assistance of a skilled divorce attorney can help make the process go more smoothly and reduce the stress involved. If you have questions about divorce, talk to an experienced Georgia divorce attorney who can advise you how to proceed.