Family Division Revised Rules
Approved by the Supreme Court of Georgia June 2010
To provide a speedy, certain, comprehensive, non-adversarial approach to the judicial resolution of
multiple family problems and disputes while more systematically and effectively addressing the
interests of children and the family unit.
The Family Division shall have jurisdiction over divorce, separation, annulment, custody and
visitation, child support, contempt, modification, paternity, adoption, termination of parental rights,
and domestic violence.
The authority to manage and conduct the Family Division is vested in the Superior Court Family
Division Judges and shall be exercised through regular monthly or special meetings of the Judges
and the Director.
100-4 Duties and Responsibilities
The Judges of the Family Division shall elect an Advisory Council and attend Judges’ meetings
and committee meetings and participate in the management of the Family Division.
200-1 One Family One Judge
A Family Division will be created in Fulton County to address and adjudicate all issues set forth in
Rule 100-2 affecting the same family in a single court system with emphasis on the best interests of
children affected by legal proceedings and others not having a direct voice in the legal proceedings
The Family Division will have trained and experienced judges, staff, professionals and volunteers
who have a genuine interest in resolving family law conflicts. Judges and staff will have the highest
level of expertise possible, including familiarity with related disciplines such as psychology and
child development. Attorneys and other volunteers working with the Family Division will undergo
200-3 Accessibility and Coordination of Cases
The Family Division will be user-friendly and accessible to the public and will establish a system that
will allow all cases to be screened and coordinated at the time of filing to promote earlier, more effective
resolution of family issues.
200-4 Reduction in Case Processing Time
The Family Division will enhance the speed and certainty with which family disputes are resolved by
requiring monitoring and enforcement processes to ensure that families’ needs identified and orders
entered are being met in a timely, consistent and effective manner in order to reduce the number of
hearings a family must attend and the overall case processing time.
The Family Division will provide a variety of services including mediation, counseling, children
services and parental education to evaluate the needs of each family and reduce the use of forced
resolution through the litigation process. However, such techniques will not be used to compromise legal
protections and confidentiality. The alternative dispute techniques are subject to the development of
standards and guidelines.
The Family Division will implement the use of early and appropriate intervention by maximizing the use
of professional services, community services, and trained, well-screened volunteers to supplement its
300-1 Intake Worksheet
Parties are required to provide the Judicial Officer or the assigned Judge’s staff an Intake Worksheet no
later than the date of the 30-Day Status Conference.
300-2 Scheduling Order
The Clerk shall provide Petitioner with a copy of the 30-Day Status Conference Scheduling Order
stating the date, time, and place of the conference, the Judge assigned to the case, and the penalties for
failing to appear.
300-3 Discovery Forms
Forms regarding Mandatory Discovery, as set forth in Rule 4000-6.3.2, shall be included in the
Domestic Relations Initiation Packet.
300-4 Emergency Services Resource Form
A regularly updated list of information regarding local emergency services and resources available
for litigants involved in domestic disputes shall be included in the Domestic Relations Initiation
400-1 Clerk’s Office
When the initial pleading is filed in the Clerk’s Office, the Clerk shall:
(a) assign the case to the proper Family Division Judge, using the automated case assignment
process, and perform a related case check.
(b) provide Petitioner with a copy of a 30-Day Status Conference Order.
(c) make available copies of the Domestic Relations Initiation Packet which includes the
Automatic Domestic Standing Order, Domestic Intake Worksheet and information on the Families
in Transition seminar, if applicable.
The Clerk shall follow step (a) above and place the petition and service copies in a designated place
in the Clerk’s Office to be retrieved and processed by the Family Division Intake Case Manager.
400-2 Intake Case Manager
The Intake Case Manager shall notify the parties by written correspondence that the case has been
assigned to the Family Division. The Intake Case Manager shall also provide to Petitioner the 30-
Day Status Conference Order, and, where applicable, copies of the Domestic Relations Initiation
Packet, Automatic Domestic Standing Order, Domestic Intake Worksheet and information on the
Families in Transition Seminar. For cases in which the pleadings are designated by Petitioner to be
served upon Respondent by the Sheriff, the Intake Case Manager shall arrange for the above to be
forwarded to the Sheriff’s Office.
400-3 Filing of Contempt Action or Family Violence Petition
When a Petition for citation of Contempt is filed, the Intake Case Manager shall direct the party to
the proper Judge’s Litigation Manager who shall assign a hearing date. When a Petition for
protection from Family Violence is filed, the Clerk shall assign a hearing date from the schedule
provided by the Domestic Violence Case Manager.
400-4 Exclusive Control
The Judge to whom any action is assigned shall have exclusive control of such action, except as
provided in these rules. No person shall change any assignment except by order of the Judge
affected and as provided in these rules. In this regard, an assigned Judge may transfer an assigned
action to another Judge with the latter’s consent, at which time the latter becomes the assigned
500-1 Standing Committees
There shall be a Civil Rules Committee to make recommendations concerning the rules and procedures for handling civil family law matters.
500-2 Special Committees
The Family Division Judges may appoint such special committees as they may deem advisable and for a term to be set by the Judges. Special committees have a duty to study and make recommendations to the Family Division in connection with any subject matter assigned to them
600 Reserved -- COORDINATION OF ANCILLARY CASES
1000-1 Method of Selection
The nominating committee shall review applications and make recommendations for the selection
of Judicial Officers for the Family Division. The committee shall consist of either the chairperson
or his or her designee from each of the following Bar Associations:
(a) Asian-Pacific Bar Association
(b) Gate City Bar Association
(c) Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys
(d) Georgia Association of Women Lawyers
(e) Hispanic Bar Association
(f) North Fulton Bar Association
(g) Sandy Springs Bar Association
(h) Stonewall Bar Association
The committee shall also consist of the chairperson and the immediate past-chairperson of the
Atlanta Bar Association’s Family Law Section and two community representatives who are
involved with family related services. Upon receipt of the recommendation(s) of the Nominating
Committee, the Court will make its appointment(s) in the exercise of its discretion, understanding
that it is the Court, and not the Committee, that appoints Judicial Officers.
Applicants must be in good standing with the State Bar of Georgia; a resident of Fulton County;
have considerable experience in the family law area consisting of either seven (7) or more years of
(a) a law practice 50% or more of which is devoted to family law cases, or (b) judicial experience
in a court with a docket consisting of 50% or more family law cases or (c) a combination of (a) and
(b); be of good moral character; and be willing to commit the current required number of days per
week to serving as a Judicial Officer; be well-suited temperamentally to handle domestic relations
issues; and be readily accepted by the Bar based upon experience and knowledge. Each Judicial
Officer shall be appointed as a magistrate Judge in the manner provided by law.
Each Judicial Officer shall receive twenty (20) hours of training within the first calendar year of
their initial appointment, including four (4) hours of domestic violence training under the grant
from the Governor’s Office of Criminal Justice Coordinating Council with the Fulton County
Solicitor’s Office, Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers and the Family Division’s Alternative Dispute
Resolution Seminar. Each Judicial Officer shall receive annual training as required by the State Bar
of Georgia for attorneys in the active practice of law, with the exception that Judicial Officers may
satisfy their annual training requirement by completing the annual training requirements provided
by law for magistrates.
1000-4.1 The Judicial Officer shall have the responsibility of ruling and presiding over the
a. Status Conferences;
b. Scheduling Conferences;
c. All discovery disputes;
d. Venue disputes;
e. The appointment of Social Services coordinators;
f. The entry of Alternative Dispute Resolution Orders;
g. Drug and Alcohol Testing;
h. DNA Paternity Testing;
i. Interim Guardian Ad Litem fee awards;
j. Issues pertaining to the validity of service of process;
k. The entry of Legitimation Orders (provided that the Mother has consented to legitimation);
I. The entry of Orders for Service by Publication;
m. The entry of Final Orders/Judgments on all matters that are uncontested (to include Divorce by
Publication, the entry of Consent Orders, the entry of Orders arising from Motion for Judgments on
1000-4.2 If a written request for the assigned Family Division Superior Court Judge to preside
over a case is not filed at least five (5) business days prior to the scheduled hearing or at least five
(5) business days prior to the date a matter shall be ripe for a ruling or adjudication, the Judicial
Officer shall have the authority to rule and preside over the following matters/issues:
a. Interim and Temporary hearings on the following issues: Support (“support” shall include, but
shall not be limited to, child support, the cost of private primary and secondary school education
and Alimony), Custody, Legitimation cases where the Mother has not consented to legitimation,
Paternity, the temporary use and possession of property, the maintenance of health insurance, the
division of out of pocket medical expenses, and the servicing of debt;
b. Complex (non-venue) jurisdictional issues (to include but not to be limited to The Uniform Child
Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) and residency disputes);
c. The entry of Guardian ad Litem, Custody and/or Psychological Evaluation Orders;
d. The award of attorney’s fees;
e. Contempt matters;
f. Pretrial motions on issues not specifically assigned to the Judicial Officer in Rule 1000-4.1.
g. Final Trials of contested matters.
h. Any other matter(s) arising from cases pending before the Family Division.
1000-4.3 To be effective, objections to the Judicial Officer making determinations or presiding
over those matters/issues identified in Rule 1000-4.2 shall be served on all parties or on their
attorneys of record and on the chambers of the Judge assigned to the matter at least five (5)
business days prior to the scheduled hearing or at least five (5) business days prior to the date a
matter shall be ripe for a ruling or adjudication.
1000-4.4 To be effective in post-judgment contempt motions, a new objection to the Judicial
Officer presiding over the matter shall be filed and served upon all parties or on their attorneys of
record and on the chambers of the assigned Family Division Superior Court Judge at least five
(5) business days prior to the scheduled hearing.
1000-4.5 If during any conference or hearing on any subject matter an issue arises that is not
specifically addressed in Rule 1000-4.1 or 1000-4.2, then the Judicial Officer shall have concurrent
authority with the assigned Family Division Superior Court Judge to rule on said issues.
1000-4.6 Once a Judicial Officer renders a ruling on a motion or particular subject matter, all
subsequent motions applicable to the Judicial Officer’s ruling, including motions for
reconsideration, motions for new trial, request for certificate of immediate review, and/or motions
for attorney’s fees shall be directed to the Judicial Officer then assigned to the Family Division
Chambers which ruled on the original subject matter.
1000-4.7 If any or all of the parties file a Rule 1000-4 request pursuant to Rule 1000-4.3 and if all
parties provide written consent on the issues in which the parties agree the Judicial Officer shall
rule, then the Judicial Officer shall have the authority to rule on those designated issues at any
conference or hearing that would normally be reserved for the assigned Family Division Superior
The Director of the Family Division shall be interviewed and appointed by the Family Division
2000-2 Classification of Position
The position level is titled Court Program Administrator D-61 under the Fulton County employee
3000-1 Method of Selection
A list of attorneys eligible to conduct late case evaluations shall be maintained by the Georgia
Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. This list shall be on file and made
available in the Family Division office. The evaluation may also be conducted by a Senior Judge or
a Judge of the Superior Court not assigned to the case who has prior family law experience as a
practitioner or as a Judge.
The late case evaluator shall be a qualified domestic relations attorney who has been trained in case
evaluation and has a minimum of ten (10) years experience in the domestic relations area, a Senior Judge,
or a Judge of the Superior Court not assigned to the case who has prior family law
experience as a practitioner or as a Judge.
The late case evaluator, in a non-binding setting, shall hear from both parties and then shall make
recommendations for the parties to consider for purposes of settlement.
4000-1 General Statement
The Civil Rules for the Family Division shall remain distinct and separate from the Juvenile Court
rules and the criminal rules and procedures. Further, for the purposes of the Family Division, the
Uniform Superior Court Rules shall be modified as stated herein.
4000-2 Filing and Service of Pleadings
At the time of filing of an action, Petitioner in contested cases shall retrieve an initiation packet
from the Clerk of Superior Court’s Office and a 30-Day Status Conference Order designating a
time, date and location for the conference. This packet will include a Domestic Intake Worksheet,
rules regarding mandatory discovery with mandatory discovery forms attached thereto, information
on the Families in Transition Seminar, and a financial affidavit form. The service copy of the
Complaint to be served upon Respondent shall have the 30-Day Status Conference Order and same
initiation packet attached thereto.
In uncontested cases, at the time of filing of an action, Petitioner shall retrieve from the Clerk of
Superior Court’s Office a Domestic Intake Worksheet, information on the Families in Transition
Seminar, and a 30-Day Status Conference Order designating a time, date and location for the
conference. Uncontested final hearings shall be scheduled by the Intake Case Manager. With the
permission of the Family Division Judge’s Litigation Manager, uncontested matters may be
brought before the presiding Senior Judge. However, in all instances, a copy of the filed Final
Order in these matters shall be submitted to the Family Division Judge’s Litigation Manager.
4000-2.1 Service of Process
The party filing the initial pleading in contested cases shall promptly provide a copy of the
Complaint, the initiation packet and the 30-Day Status Conference Order to all other parties by
serving a copy of them upon the other party(ies) by Sheriff’s Entry of Service (the service copies
may be given to the Family Division who will arrange to have a Sheriff’s Deputy pick them up for
service), by Acknowledgment of Service, by Process Server, or by Publication.
Upon a party joining an additional party in an action, the additional party shall be served with the
current pleadings and Scheduling Order(s).
4000-2.2 Requirements Regarding Submission of Documents
Every order and other paper presented to a Judge for his/her signature shall be signed by the
individual attorney presenting it on the lower left-hand corner of the page to be signed by the
A party appearing pro se shall state on his/her pleading, notice of appearance and other documents
filed by him/her, his/her mailing address and street address where service of process and other
papers may be made upon him/her.
4000-2.3 Change of Case Style
Case styles shall be changed to promote less adversarial posturing. Plaintiff shall be changed to
Petitioner; Defendant shall be changed to Respondent; and versus shall be changed to and such that
the case style will read Petitioner and Respondent rather than Plaintiff versus Defendant.
4000-3 Scheduling and Calendaring of Conferences, Hearings and Final Trial in Contested
4000-3.1 Preparation of Calendars
The Family Division Intake Case Manager shall prepare the 30-Day Status Conference calendar for
the Family Division Judges. Subsequent 60- and 120-Day Status Conferences, final hearing
calendars and contempt hearing calendars shall be scheduled by the Judge’s Litigation Manager or
the Litigation Manager’s designee.
4000-3.2 When Status Conferences are Scheduled
The date of the 30-Day Status Conference shall be determined at the time of filing the action. Upon
the filing of the Petition, the parties are notified of the date and time of the 30-Day Status
Conference. Notice of such date shall constitute formal court notice of the Status Conference. All
conferences and other matters to be brought before the Court shall be scheduled only by the
Judge’s Litigation Manager or the Litigation Manager’s designee.
4000-3.2.1 30-Day Status Conference
A Status Conference with the Judge, Judicial Officer or Staff Attorney shall be scheduled
approximately thirty (30) days from the date of filing of an action. The individual presiding over a
conference shall be knowledgeable about the child support guidelines and alternative dispute
The focus of the 30-day Status Conference is to determine which issues, if any, are in dispute and
methods of resolving those issues. If by that time the parties are unable to agree on a temporary
basis regarding the issues of financial responsibilities and support, possession of the marital home,
child custody/visitation issues or possession and use of personal and real property, then at that time
a temporary hearing will be convened immediately or set for hearing soon thereafter for the Court’s
determination of these matters.
Based upon the circumstances of the case, the parties also may discuss the following issues:
(a) Appointment of Guardian ad Litem;
(b) Psychological evaluations;
(d) Cooperative parenting education;
(e) Discovery sequencing;
(f) Any other matter.
Mediation is available and offered at the 30-Day Status Conference. Also, dates may be set for
future mediation, late case evaluation and trial.
Unresolved issues may be deferred for resolution at the 60-Day Status Conference. At the
conclusion of this Conference, the Litigation Manager shall notify the parties of the next hearing
and/or conference date, and a scheduling order shall be filed with the Court. At the conclusion of a
temporary hearing, the Judge or Judicial Officer shall determine whether to send the parties to
mediation and whether the 60-Day Status Conference shall be regularly set or, based upon the
circumstances of the case, deferred to a future date. A scheduling order shall be filed with the Court
in accordance with the Judge or Judicial Officer’s ruling.
4000-3.2.2 60-Day Status Conference
The focus of the 60-Day Status Conference is for the parties to discuss and agree upon the
unresolved pertinent issues of the case. In the event the parties are unable to resolve any such
issue, a temporary hearing will be convened or set for hearing soon thereafter for the Court’s
determination of these matters. Except for good cause shown, an issue which was determined by
the Court at a prior hearing will not be revisited at the 60-Day Status Conference.
At the conclusion of the 60-Day Status Conference, a Family Division Scheduling Order shall be
filed with the Court. Also, a determination shall be made as to whether a 120-Day Status
Conference is necessary. In the event it is determined that the Conference is necessary, the
Litigation Manager shall notify the parties of the Conference date, which date shall be included in
the scheduling order. At the conclusion of a Temporary Hearing, the Judge or Judicial Officer shall
determine whether to send the parties to mediation and whether the 120-Day Status Conference
shall be regularly set or, based upon the circumstances of the case, deferred to a future date. A
scheduling order shall be filed with the Court in accordance with the Judge or Judicial Officer’s
4000-3.2.3 120-Day Status Conference
The focus of the 120-Day Status Conference is for the parties to show the Court completion of or
progress made on matters (i.e., discovery, Guardian ad Litem reports, mediation) not completed at
the 60-Day Status Conference, to determine a schedule for completion of outstanding matters prior
to trial, and to schedule the matter for final trial. All 120-day Status Conferences shall, absent
special circumstances, be conducted by the assigned Family Division Superior Court Judge. In the
event that the final trial will be heard by the Judicial Officer, then the Judicial Officer will also
conduct any necessary 120-day conference.
4000-3.2.4 Failure to Appear at Conferences; Noncompliance with Scheduling Order
Unless specifically excused by the Court, all parties are to attend all status conferences, even if
represented by counsel. Failure to comply with any scheduling order may be grounds for
imposition of sanctions, including dismissal, or final disposition of the case. The Court, on its own
initiative or on motion of a party, may order an attorney or party to show cause why sanctions
should not be imposed for failure to comply with the scheduling order established by these rules. If
the Court finds that an attorney or party has failed to comply with the scheduling order and has no
reasonable excuse, the Court may order the attorney or party to pay monetary sanctions to the
Court or any other party who has incurred expense as a result of the failure to comply, or both; in
addition, the Court may impose such other sanctions as justice requires.
4000-3.2.5 Opt-Out Provision
The purpose of this rule is to ensure the Court that a Status Conference is unnecessary because the
parties have resolved all pertinent issues at that stage of the case.
A Status Conference shall be removed from the Court’s calendar by full compliance with the
The 30-Day Status Conference shall be removed if no less than three (3) days before the scheduled
date of the Conference, or if otherwise approved by the Judge or Judicial Officer, the Court
receives via email to the appropriate judicial staff member from both parties (through counsel, if
applicable) a jointly signed, complete Family Division 30-Day Joint Compliance Certificate,
including all attachments, stating that all temporary issues have been resolved and that the
exchange of mandatory discovery responses, including Child Support Worksheet and Schedules,
have been completed or will be completed by a date certain but no later than twenty (20) days
following the scheduled date of the 30-Day Status Conference. Attached to the Certificate shall be:
a 30-Day Joint Compliance Worksheet and a completed Domestic Intake Worksheet.
A 60-Day Status Conference shall be removed if no less than three (3) days before the scheduled
date of the Conference, or if otherwise approved by the Judge or Judicial Officer, the Court
receives via email to the appropriate judicial staff member from both parties (through counsel, if
applicable) a jointly signed, complete Family Division 60-Day Joint Compliance Certificate setting
out in detail dates and procedures for the completion of all applicable items included on the
Certificate, the major disputed issues and the parties’ plans for attempting to resolve such issues,
and a time estimate for trial. The Certificates and attachments shall conform substantially to the
forms provided by the Fulton County Family Division.
In the event the 30-day Status Conference is removed from the Court’s calendar, the matter shall
immediately be set down for a 60-day conference unless otherwise ordered by the Court. In the
event the 60-day conference is removed from the Court’s calendar, the matter shall immediately be
set down for a 120-day conference unless otherwise ordered by the Court.
4000-3.2.6 Additional/Supplementary Status Conferences
The Court shall have the right to order additional and supplementary Status Conferences at any
time to streamline matters and keep cases on track, or for discovery motions (see Rule 4000-6.1.1).
These conferences may also be held by telephone.
4000-3.3 Proposed Pretrial Orders
Consolidated Domestic Relations Pretrial Orders may be required in all contested cases.
Consolidated Pretrial Orders shall be filed with the Court no later than seven (7) calendar days
prior to trial, unless otherwise ordered by the Court.
4000-3.4 Late Case Evaluation
The Late Case Evaluator, in a non-binding setting, may hear both parties’ statements outside the
presence of the other side and shall make recommendations to the parties to consider for the
purpose of settlement.
4000-3.4.1 Scheduling Late Case Evaluation
A Late Case Evaluation may be scheduled any time after completion of discovery, or prior thereto
if by agreement of the parties, or at the Court’s discretion. No case shall be referred to Late Case
Evaluation unless the parties thereto have announced that the final trial of the case will take two (2)
days or longer. The Court shall appoint an Evaluator. Absent special circumstances (which are
specifically set forth in the order or notice), no case shall receive more than one Late Case
4000-3.4.2 Payment to Evaluator
The Late Case Evaluator shall be paid at his/her regular hourly rate beginning the fourth (4th) hour
of Late Case Evaluation unless otherwise ordered by the Judge or Judicial Officer.
4000-3.5 Final Trial
A final trial date shall be set at the 30-Day, 60-Day or 120-Day Status Conference, depending on
what appears appropriate to the Court.
4000-4 Motions for Contempt and Emergency Motions
All contempt matters shall be heard within the time prescribed by law.
A hearing for an emergency motion shall be held as soon as practicable, preferably either within 48
hours after the date and time of filing of the motion or within the time limitations as determined by
the nature of the emergency. This shall include any time requirements for notice to the other party
as the Court deems appropriate under the circumstances.
Parties ordered to proceed in certain matters and within certain time frames under the Family
Division shall abide by the Court’s Order. Failure to follow a Court Order, unless substantially
justified, may result in one or more sanctions, including: a finding of contempt by the Court;
taxation of costs or attorney’s fees; and/or the imposition of monetary or other sanctions.
4000-6 Modification of Specific Uniform Superior Court Rules
4000-6.1 Uniform Superior Court Rule 6.4
4000-6.1.1 Motions to Compel Discovery
Motions to Compel Discovery shall be submitted by letter brief and shall conform substantially
with the requirements of Uniform Superior Court Rule 6.4(A) and (B).
Either party can petition the Court by letter for a Discovery Status Conference after complying with
the requirements of Uniform Superior Court Rule 6.4 et seq. which states that counsel must confer
in a good faith effort to resolve any disputes without the Court’s intervention. In the event of a
discovery dispute, double spaced letters, no smaller than a twelve (12) point font size, filed with the
Court, and titled collectively as a party’s Notice of Discovery Dispute shall suffice. A copy shall be
submitted to the Litigation Manager.
At the Status Conference, the Court may rule on discovery matters. If a party does not comply with
the Order, then upon motion, sanctions may be awarded by the Court.
4000-6.1.2 Notice of Discovery Dispute
Upon the filing of a party’s Notice of Discovery Dispute, the Court, or its designee, may hold a
Status Conference with the attorneys by telephone within twenty (20) days to determine the
complexity and nature of the issue(s) and to determine if the matters can be resolved by the
telephone conference with the Court. If the matter cannot be resolved by a telephone conference,
the Court, in its discretion, may require the attorneys and the parties (and/or witness and attorney)
to attend a conference with the Judge to resolve the dispute. In addition, the Court shall select any
other available remedy including requiring the parties to file formal motions with supporting briefs
prior to the Court’s ruling or hearing on the matter.
4000-6.2 Uniform Superior Court Rule 7.4
An Amendment shall be made by adding a Domestic Relations Pretrial Order.
4000-6.3 Uniform Superior Court Rule 24
4000-6.3.1 Domestic Relations Financial Affidavits, Child Support Worksheet and Schedule
Domestic Relations Financial Affidavits, Child Support Worksheet and Schedules shall be
provided to the Judge assigned in the case and served on the opposing party or counsel within thirty
(30) days from the filing date of the Complaint in all cases where alimony, maintenance, and/or
child support is at issue. The Financial Affidavit, Child Support Worksheet and Schedules may be
admitted as evidence at hearing or trial but shall not be filed with the Clerk. In the event a party
provides a Financial Affidavit, Child Support Worksheet or Schedules to the Court, on the same
day, the party shall also serve the other party with the same document so that it is received on the
same day the Court receives it.
4000-6.3.2 Mandatory Discovery
Family Division Mandatory Discovery forms shall be served with the Complaint upon Respondent.
The Answers to Interrogatories, the Required Documents to be Produced, and the Financial
Affidavit, Child Support Worksheet and Schedules shall be served on the opposing party or counsel
within thirty (30) days from the filing date of the Complaint or no later than 48 hours before the 30-
Day Status Conference, whichever date is later. The parties shall file with the Court a certificate
indicating the pleading which was served, the date of service and the persons served.
This rule shall apply to all proceedings within the scope of these rules except proceedings
involving adoption, enforcement, contempt, declaratory actions and injunctions for domestic or
repeat violence. This rule also shall not apply in the event the parties enter into an Uncontested
Divorce by thirty (30) days after the date of the filing of the Complaint.
Each party must bring to the 30-Day Status Conference his or her Financial Affidavit, Child
Support Worksheet and Schedules, Answers to Interrogatories, and documents in response to
Required Documents To Be Produced.
In the event of a full settlement, then a signed settlement agreement shall be filed with the Court
and a copy served upon the Litigation Manager.
These mandatory discovery requests are not intended to preclude counsel from serving additional
interrogatory requests to the approving party. The discovery rule of the Civil Practice Act
restricting the number of interrogatory requests to fifty (50) or less without leave of court shall not
include, in calculating the number of questions, those requests listed in these Family Division
mandated discovery pleadings.
The parties have a continuing duty to supplement documents described in this rule, including the
Financial Affidavit, Child Support Worksheet and Schedules whenever a material change in their
financial status occurs.
Any documents to be produced under this rule that are served on the opposing party less than
twenty-four (24) hours before a hearing or trial are in violation of the Court’s Scheduling Order
and shall not be admissible into evidence at that hearing or trial unless the Court finds good cause
for the delay.
All parties subject to this automatic mandatory disclosure shall file with the Court a certificate of
compliance identifying with particularity the documents which have been delivered and certifying
the date of service of the Financial Affidavit and mandated discovery responses.
4000-6.4 Uniform Superior Court Rule 17.1 -- Legal Notice of Conflicts in Court Proceedings
Scheduling Conferences of the Fulton County Superior Court Family Division are considered as
specially set. A Status Conference is by Order of this Court and is considered a scheduled non-jury
trial proceeding for purposes of conflict letters. In the event of a legal conflict, the Status
Conference shall be rescheduled promptly on the next available date.
4000-7 Family Violence Petitions
Family Violence Petitions shall be under the auspices of the Family Division and monitored at
all stages by the team to which they are assigned. If a divorce is pending before or at the time of the
filing of the Family Violence Petition, then the statutory thirty (30) day hearing may be heard by
the Court in the Family Division to which the case is assigned.
4000-9 Guardians ad Litem
The Guardian ad Litem (“GAL”) is appointed to assist in a domestic relations case by the Superior
Court Judge assigned to hear that particular case, or otherwise having the responsibility to hear
such a case. The appointing Judge has the discretion to appoint any person as a GAL so long as the
person so selected has been trained as a GAL or is otherwise familiar with the role, duties, and
responsibilities as determined by the Judge. The GAL may be selected through an intermediary.
A GAL shall receive such training as provided by or approved by the Circuit in which the GAL
serves. This training should include, but not be limited to, instruction in the following subjects:
domestic relations law and procedure, including the appropriate standard to be applied in the case;
domestic relations courtroom procedure; role, duties, and responsibilities of a GAL; recognition
and assessment of child’s best interests; methods of performing a child custody/visitation
investigation; methods of obtaining relevant information concerning a child’s best interests; the
ethical obligations of a GAL, including relationships between the GAL and counsel, the GAL and
the child, and the GAL and the Court; recognition of cultural and economic diversity in families
and communities; basic child development, needs, and abilities at different ages; interviewing
techniques; communicating with children; family dynamics and dysfunction, domestic violence and
substance abuse; recognition of issues of child abuse; and available services for child welfare,
family preservation, medical, mental health, educational and special needs, including
placement/evaluation/diagnostic treatment services.
4000-9.3 Role and Responsibilities
The GAL shall represent the best interests of the child. The GAL is an officer of the Court and
shall assist the Court and the parties in reaching a decision regarding child custody, visitation, and
child-related issues. Should the issue of child custody and/or visitation be tried, the GAL shall be
available to offer testimony in accordance with Rules 9.6 and 9.7 herein.
The GAL holds a position of trust with respect to the minor child at issue, and must exercise due
diligence in the performance of his/her duties. A GAL should be respectful of, and should become
educated concerning, cultural and economic diversity as may be relevant to assessing a child’s best
A GAL’s appointment, unless ordered otherwise by the Court for a specific designated period,
terminates upon final disposition of all matters pertaining to child custody, visitation, and child-related
issues. The GAL shall have the authority to bring a contempt action, or other appropriate
remedy, to recover court-ordered fees for the GAL’s services.
By virtue of the order appointing a GAL, a GAL shall have the right to inspect all records relating
to the minor child maintained by the Clerk of the Court in this and any other jurisdiction, other
social and human service agencies, the Department of Family and Children Services, and the
Juvenile Court. Upon written release and/or waiver by a party or appropriate court order, the GAL
shall have the right to examine all records maintained by any school, financial institution, hospital,
doctor or other mental health provider, or any other social or human services agency or financial
institution pertaining to the child which are deemed confidential by the service provider. The GAL
shall have the right to examine any residence wherein any person seeking custody or visitation
rights proposes to house the minor child. The GAL may request the Court to order examination of
the child, parents or anyone seeking custody of the child, by a medical or mental health
professional, if appropriate. The GAL shall be entitled to notice of, and shall be entitled to
participate in, all hearings, trials, investigations, depositions, settlement negotiations, or other
proceedings concerning the child.
4000-9.5 Release to GAL of Party’s Confidential Information From Non-Parties
A GAL’s right to request and receive documents and information from mental health professionals,
counselors and others with knowledge of a confidential nature concerning a party is conditional
upon the party agreeing to sign a release allowing the GAL access to such records and information.
Upon receipt of a party’s signed waiver/release form, the GAL shall have the right to inspect all
records, documents and information relating to the minor child(ren) and/or the parties maintained
by any mental health professionals, counselors and others with knowledge of a confidential nature
concerning a party or minor child.
4000-9.6 Written Report
Unless otherwise directed by the appointing judge, the GAL shall submit to the parties or counsel
and to the Court a written report detailing the GAL’s findings and recommendations at such time as
may be directed by the assigned judge. At trial, the report shall be admitted into evidence for direct
evidence and impeachment purposes, or for any other purposes allowed by the laws of this state.
The Court will consider the report, including the recommendations, in making its decision.
However, the recommendations of the GAL are not a substitute for the Court’s independent
discretion and judgment, nor is the report a substitute for the GAL’s attendance and testimony at
the final hearing, unless all parties otherwise agree.
4000-9.6.1 Contents of Report
The report shall summarize the GAL’s investigation, including identifying all sources the GAL
contacted or relied upon in preparing the report. The GAL shall offer recommendations concerning
child custody, visitation, and child-related issues and the reasons supporting those
4000-9.6.2 Release of Report to Counsel and Parties
The Report shall be released to counsel (including counsel’s staff and experts) and parties only, and
shall not be further disseminated unless otherwise ordered by the Court.
4000-9.6.3 Release of GAL’s File to Counsel
If ordered by the Court, the parties and their counsel shall be allowed to review and/or copy (and
shall pay the cost of same) the contents of the GAL’s file.
4000-9.6.4 Unauthorized Dissemination of GAL’s Report and Contents of File
Any unauthorized dissemination of the GAL’s report, its contents or the contents of the GAL’s file
by a party or counsel to any person, shall be subject to sanctions, including a finding of contempt
by the Court.
4000-9.6.5 Sealing of Written Report
If filed, the report shall be filed under seal by the Clerk in order to preserve the security, privacy,
and best interests of the child(ren) at issue.
4000-9.7 Role at Hearing and Trial
It is expected that the GAL shall be called as the Court’s witness at trial unless otherwise directed
by the Court. The GAL shall be subject to examination by the parties and the Court. The GAL is
qualified as an expert witness on the best interests of the child(ren) in question. The GAL may
testify as to the foundation provided by witnesses and sources, and the results of the GAL’s
investigation, including a recommendation as to what is in a child’s best interests. The GAL shall
not be allowed to question witnesses or present argument, absent exceptional circumstances and
upon express approval of the Court.
4000-9.8 General and Miscellaneous Provisions
4000-9.8.1 Requesting Mental Fitness and Custody Evaluations
Based upon the facts and circumstances of the case, a GAL may request the Court to order the
parties to undergo mental fitness and/or custody evaluations to be performed by a mental health
expert approved by the Court. The Court shall provide for the parties’ responsibility for payment of
fees to the appointed experts.
4000-9.8.2 Filing Motions and Pleadings
If appropriate, the GAL may file motions and pleadings if the GAL determines that the filing of
such motion or pleading is necessary to preserve, promote or protect the best interests of a child.
This would include the GAL’s right to file appropriate discovery requests and request the issuance
of subpoenas. Upon the filing of any such motions or pleadings, the GAL shall promptly serve all
parties with filed copies of such filings.
4000-9.8.3 Right to Receive Notice of Mediations, Hearings and Trials
Counsel shall notify the GAL of the date and time of all mediations, depositions, hearings and trials
or other proceedings concerning the child(ren). Counsel shall serve the GAL with proper notice of
all legal proceedings, and court proceedings wherein the child(ren)’s interests are involved and
shall provide the GAL with proper and timely written notice of all non-court proceedings involving
the child(ren)’s interests.
4000-9.8.4 Approval of Settlement Agreements
If the parties reach an Agreement concerning issues affecting the best interests of a child, the GAL
shall be so informed and shall have the right and opportunity to make objections to the Court to any
proposed settlement of issues relating to the children prior to the Court approving the Agreement.
4000-9.8.5 Communications Between GAL and Counsel
A GAL may communicate with a party’s counsel without including the other counsel in the same
conversation, meeting or, if by writing, notice of the communication. When communicating with
the GAL, counsel is not required to notify opposing counsel of the communication or, if in writing,
provide opposing counsel with a copy of the communication to the GAL.
4000-9.8.6 Ex Parte Communication Between GAL and Court
The GAL shall not have ex parte communications with the Court except only in matters of
emergency concerning the child’s welfare or upon consent of the parties or counsel. Upon making
emergency concerns known to the Court, the GAL may request immediate hearing to address the
emergency. Notification shall be provided immediately to the parties and counsel of the nature of
the emergency and time of hearing.
4000-9.8.7 Payment of GAL Fees and Expenses
It shall be within the Court’s discretion to determine the amount of fees awarded to the GAL, and
how payment of fees shall be apportioned between the parties. The GAL’s requests for fees shall be
considered, upon application properly served upon the parties and after an opportunity to be heard,
unless waived. In the event the GAL determines that extensive travel outside the Circuit in which
the GAL is appointed or other extraordinary expenditures are necessary, the GAL may petition the
Court in advance for payment of such expenses by the parties
4000-9.8.8 Removal of GAL From Case
Upon motion of either party or upon the Court’s own motion, the Court may consider removing the
GAL from the case for good cause shown.