Tonight’s post on care and commitment in family law was written by our Atlanta family law attorney, Dina Khismatulina.
On May 21-23, 2015 I attended the Annual Family Law Institute for the first time. It was an unbelievably educational and informative CLE – hands down, the best I have been to so far. For the Family Law Institute it was a 33d Family CLE, and some of my colleagues, like Steve Worrall, have been to all 33 of them.
The best part, in my opinion, were judges’ panels – I wish there were more of them. The panels gave the attending lawyers a unique opportunity to get to know judges’ opinions and prospective on family law related issues – straight from the judges.
For example, during the day 1, the Institute presented an excellent panel discussion on “Temporary Hearings – What Evidence Really Works?” We heard from different Superior Court judges – from Forsyth, Cobb, and Macon to Stone Mountain circuits. It was mind blowing how different sometimes judges’ positions would be, all within the letter of the law, that further confirmed rule # 1 for all litigators – “know your judge”. For instance, a majority of judges don’t want to talk to children in custody cases directly, in order to avoid putting pressure and stress on them, but some judges prefer to do so in chambers, without counsel being present.
On day 2, the morning panel was devoted to balancing competing interests during child custody cases, which gave us a glimpse of a view from the bench and helped the attending lawyers to understand how judges see and assess different parties and people involved, including children. Grandparent’s rights were discussed at length, which I found very informative, but, of course, different judges have opposite views on grandparents’ rights.
Another feature of the Family Law Institute that I found incredibly helpful was breakout sessions on child support. Members of the Georgia Commission on Child Support, experienced Georgia lawyers, and Superior Court Judges from different circuits shared information and helpful tips as well as legislative and case law update and overview on child support. Attending lawyers had an opportunity to ask panelist questions and the audience actively participated. The atmosphere of the workshops on child support was more relaxed and friendly due to the smaller size of the audience, and on many occasions the moderators of the child support workshops put attending judges from the audience on the spot and asked them questions, in addition to the panelists. Such format, in my opinion, worked better for younger lawyers: hearing the right questions from seasoned lawyers gets you thinking about certain issues and it is as equally important as hearing the right answers from judges andother lawyers. I enjoyed discussions on Income Deduction Orders, child support deviations and enforcement of child support.
I am already looking forward to the next year. Now I know what to expect and would be able to manage my time at the Institute better. Considering that the Annual Family Law Institute takes three whole days from 7.00 a.m. to at least 1.p.m. and many events well into the evening, it certainly requires the right combination of Starbucks and protein snacks as well as certain state of mind to digest the massive amount of information provided at the CLE.
Considering that our whole Firm was there, start to finish, we showed unparalleled care and commitment to our craft. I’d say our Firm is up to the task.