When you get divorced in Fulton County, Georgia, the family court requires a series of status conferences. Sometimes people do not understand the purpose of these meetings.
You will attend the status conference with your attorney, but they are not formal hearings. Call our firm to learn more about what status conferences are in a divorce case and how they can impact you.
Divorcing parties do not request a status conference—the family court schedules them at regular intervals after a divorce petition. These meetings allow the couple to update the court on any agreements in place and any concerns that cannot be agreed upon. The first conference happens 30 days after the filing is complete. Subsequent meetings happen at the 60-day and 120-day marks, if necessary.
Status conferences take place in a conference room at the courthouse. Both parties and their lawyers must attend. The judge usually does not participate in the status conference; a judicial officer (JO) manages the meeting.
At the first status conference, the parties must bring a completed, detailed questionnaire as well as substantial financial documentation, including tax returns, pay stubs, and receipts relating to the children’s expenses. If the couple has not settled by the date of the 60-day conference, the JO might order them to mediation. If they have not resolved their differences by the 120-day conference, the JO will set the matter for trial.
The JO essentially stands in for the judge in the preliminary proceedings leading to a divorce trial. The JO must be an attorney in good standing with the Bar, a county resident, and have substantial experience in family law practice.
The JO oversees the discovery process and confirms that the parties are producing requested documents at a reasonable pace. If one side is delaying, the JO might impose a schedule. The JO also can issue temporary orders on matters such as child support and alimony.
The JO resolves technical and temporary problems that could delay the proceedings. If the parties are disputing a specific issue, the JO might offer their opinion. Unless the parties object, a JO can rule on motions. If a party wants the judge to preside over all matters pertaining to their divorce, they could file a Rule 1000-4 motion. Our experienced divorce attorneys can discuss the pros and cons with you before filing the motion.
Sometimes, a status conference seems unnecessary. For example, perhaps the parties completed discovery, went to mediation, and are close to finalizing agreements on all the remaining issues. There are no disputes and nothing for a JO to decide, so a status conference is not an efficient use of anyone’s time.
If both parties agree, they can jointly request that they not be obligated to attend a scheduled status conference. Doing so saves the parties the expense of paying their lawyers’ fees for a meeting with no purpose.
Status conferences can help make sure both parties to a divorce are providing documents and other information promptly. They also allow the parties to meet together with their lawyers and a third party to discuss the issues in dispute.
Having a trusted Georgia divorce attorney by your side during a status conference can help you meet your goals. Schedule a consultation today.