Tonight’s post comes from one of our fine, Atlanta, Fulton County family law attorneys, Lindsey Harrison.
Today I wanted to take a moment to give a brief rundown on the process for navigating a case through the Fulton Family Law Division. They do things a little bit differently here in Atlanta. It is part of a pilot project that the court began implementing in 1998 to help streamline and process family law cases.
The Superior Court Family Division is comprised of three Superior Court Judges: Judge Lane, Judge Shoob, and Judge Dorsey. These judges rotate in and out of the division. The Family Court Judges are the only judges in Superior Court who handle divorce, custody, child support, legitimation, modification and contempt issues.
The Family Division also uses Judicial Officers. By definition, Judicial Officers are part time magistrates who are designated as Superior Court of Fulton County judges in the Family Division to supplement the hearing schedule of Family Division Judges.
When a family law case is initially filed, it will be scheduled for a 30-day Status Conference. This is different from what most people expect in that, instead of having a formal hearing in a courtroom, the parties and their attorneys will typically meet with a Judicial Officer, who is authorized to make decisions regarding the case, in a conference room. Throughout the case, the parties will attend these Status Conferences to help resolve legal issues and possibly reach settlements prior to trial. There are 30-Day, 60-Day and 120-Day Status Conferences within the Family Division. In addition, Fulton County provides mediation services for parties at a reduced rate to facilitate settlement.
Finally, if a case has not already been resolved by the Judicial Officer, it will be set down for a Final Trial. This process helps to ensure that by the time a case gets to one of the three Superior Court of Fulton County Family Division Judges, preliminary issues have already been addressed and the parties have been given ample time to reach a settlement. This also works to reduce the congestion in the courts and results in more efficient case processing.
As an attorney with a large portion of her practice in Fulton, I know first hand the benefits of this system. The Judicial Officers that I have had the pleasure of working with are well respected and more than competent. I look forward to seeing whether a similar system will be implemented in other high volume counties in the future.
I and I also look forward to helping you with your Fulton family law needs.