The Family Division began in July 1998 as a pilot project designed to:
The Family Division has jurisdiction over divorce, separation, annulment, custody and visitation, child support, contempt, modification, paternity, adoption, appointment of legal guardians, abuse and neglect, deprivation, abandonment, termination of parental rights, domestic violence and other intra-family criminal offenses, such as child molestation, delinquency and other general juvenile law violations.
The Superior Court Family Division is comprised of three Superior Court Judges. Judges rotate in and out of the division. 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. They are attorneys who possess specific skill, aptitude and adeptness at handling complex domestic law issues. The role of the Judicial Officer is critical to case management.
The Family Division Administrative staff is comprised of the Director, Administrative Support Staff, Social Services Coordinators, Intake Case Managers, Family Law Information Center (FLIC) Assistants, Domestic Violence Case Manager, One Stop Assistant, and Families In Transition Seminar Coordinator.
The Superior Court Family Division uses Status Conferences to help parties 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. During status conferences, parties meet with Judicial Officers or the Court to check jurisdiction and discuss issues in dispute and methods to resolve those issues. Discovery obligations are also reviewed and questions regarding temporary financial arrangements, possession of marital home, and child custody are discussed. During status conferences parties may also attempt mediation to resolve issues.View a video clip of a 30-Day Status Conference
Parties meet with Judicial Officers to check jurisdiction, venue, and to discuss issues in dispute and methods to resolve those issues. The Judicial Officer assigned to the case will check to ensure discovery obligations have been met. Questions regarding temporary financial arrangements, possession of marital home, and child custody are discussed. Mediation may be offered to resolve issues being discussed. A Guardian ad litem or Social Services Coordinator may be asked to investigate questions of child custody.
It is essential to the process that parties are prepared for their 30-day Status Conference. This will enable the Judicial Officer to move forward with the case. Parties subject themselves to the risk of having the 30-Day Status Conference rescheduled if the following items are not completed prior to the 30-day Status Conference.
Parties MUST complete the following documents and BRING to the 30-day Status Conference:
It is imperative that prior to the 30-Day Status Conference parties have thought about some of their issues and be able to clearly communicate these issues and wants to the assigned Judicial Officer.
For example, in a Divorce action, the Judicial Officer might cover with the parties the following: (this is not an exhaustive list)
At the 30-Day Status Conferences, cases in which the parties reached agreement before filing are presented to the Judicial Officer for review and entry of a Final Order. Some parties with contested cases are able to reach agreement at the status conference through the guidance of the Judicial Officer and the help of on-site mediation. The agreements are also presented to the Judicial Officer for review and entry of a Final Order.
The Family Division provides intervention services to litigants as relevant to adjudicating issues before the court. These services have been instrumental in identifying and remedying certain types of family issues that create obstacles in court proceedings.
Services may include: