I recently had an exciting opportunity to participate in a chili cook-off contest in Cobb County, Georgia. There were many contestants, and each provided a small sample for tasting. As I was strolling around and tasting samples, I realized how different each sample tasted. Some were spicy and others were mild. Some were watery and others were thick. As a lawyer who has been practicing divorce and family law in the metro Atlanta area, from Cobb County to Gwinnett County, I feel that the courts and judges in each county have a distinctive “flavor.”
Cobb County courts and judges certainly have their own flavor. There are currently ten, elected judges in the Superior Court of Cobb County. In addition, there are six senior judges who often hear overflow cases and emergency cases in family law. For example, if you are a party to a pending custody modification action and you would like to request a hearing as soon as possible on an emergency basis, you could ask one of the senior judges to hear your motion. Depending on the court calendar, you may be able to get a hearing date within a week.
Many judges in Cobb County will require the involvement of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) in a custody matter. GAL is usually an attorney who investigates the custody issues and makes a recommendation to the court. A particular GAL can be either chosen by the judge or be agreed upon by the parties. Regardless of how a GAL becomes involved in a custody matter, it is important to know that the recommendation of a GAL’s is one of the best interest of the child factors considered by the court and carries a lot of weight.
Also, mediation will likely be ordered by the judge. Cobb County Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (ADR Office) provides services that may help parties negotiate and settle their issues out of court.
Although the Uniform Rules of the Superior Court delineates many uniform rules that apply to all Superior Courts in Georgia, these Rules do not cover everything. In other words, if you are a party to a family law matter pending in Cobb County Superior Court, you’ve got to know the local rules, written and unwritten. If you have no clue as to how to proceed in a family law matter in Cobb County, I recommend that you speak with a family law attorney that has been practicing in Cobb County to make sure you avoid the unseen land mines.
Like a GPS navigation system in your car, a Cobb County divorce and family law attorney can help you navigate through the complex legal procedure successfully.
So, do more than taste your chili. Know your chili. Particularly if it might be making a decision about your divorce.