We have 159 counties in Georgia. 158 of them follow a traditional litigation model. One of them does not. That county is Fulton County. That’s Divorce in Atlanta.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the Fulton model works. I think that 90-95% of the time it works well. Whenever I have an opportunity, I advocate for the Fulton model. Some form of their model should be adopted in every major metropolitan Georgia county so that the efficiencies learned and gained there can be shared with most of the rest of Georgia’s population. Most people do not require all the pomp and circumstance of traditional litigation to resolve their family law issues. There is no reason why Fulton County residents should be the only citizens benefiting from this enlightened mind-set.
The Family Court in Fulton County differs from traditional litigation in three key areas. First, rather than being party driven, Family Court is court driven. The court provides three mandatory conferences, a 30 day, a 60 day and a 120 day. You will see the inside of a courtroom but that is designed to expedite resolution of your case.
Next, the Family Court segregates three judges from the regular bench so that they only hear family law cases. This means that criminal cases and other civil calendars can never get in the way of Fulton’s family law business.
Finally, the three judges appoint judicial officers who provide exponential access to judicial resolution. The judicial officers preside over the 30 and 60 Day Status Conferences. Given Fulton County’s huge population, this allows cases to move relatively quickly through the pipeline, greatly expediting access to justice.
Like I said, I like the system overall. As with all big programs, any one size fits all model doesn’t really fit all. Where the system needs tweaking is in the outlier cases. It would be helpful if the court were more responsive to those cases which were sufficiently peculiar that they did not streamline well.
All in all, though, managing a family law case in Fulton County’s Family Court is much more straightforward and the case’s outcome more predictable than in any other county.
If you’d like to learn more about Fulton County’s Family Court, give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss it with you.