Fulton County Status Conferences: What to Expect
To keep cases moving and prevent the creation of a huge backlog, Fulton County has designed a process for its family law cases where parties are automatically ordered to attend “status conferences" after 30 days from the date of filing, 60 days, and 120 days. This guide outlines what to expect at those status conferences.
Where to Go. Fulton county status conferences are all held in the Fulton county courthouse, in private meeting rooms near the judge’s chambers. When you get to the courthouse, you will go to the assigned courtroom and wait for a deputy to come by and call your name. Once all parties are present, everyone will be escorted back to the meeting room – which will be a room with a big conference table in it and not much else.
Who Will Be There. Unless one of the parties has filed a Rule 1000-4 Notice (and it would be labeled something like that), your assigned judge will not be at the status conference. Instead, a judicial officer will preside over the conference. Judicial officers are either (a) family law attorneys with at least seven years experience or (b) other judges with significant family law experience, or (c) some combination. All judicial officers receive 20 hours of special training for the role. At your status conference, you should address the judicial officer as “judge."
What Is Decided. The purpose of a status conference is to address any immediate temporary issues that have not yet been decided such as:
- Who will have possession of the marital residence and what’s the move-out date?
- What will the temporary custody schedule be for the children?
- How much should the parents pay for child support on a temporary basis (if any)?
- Should either party give the other some money to live on?
- Should a guardian ad litem be appointed?
- Should mediation be scheduled?
- Should either party be ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation?
- Has there been a contempt of the standing order by either party?
- Any other urgent, temporary issues that need resolution?
What to Bring/What to Wear. The status conference is informal, but you should still be prepared with all of your documents and evidence, and dress like you are going to a business meeting. (It is a bright-line rule that wearing shorts or a t-shirt to court is disrespectful – the judicial officer will be wearing business attire, and you should be too. This goes double for an actual hearing or trial, by the way: if the judge is sweating in a black robe, you can find some pants.)
How It Works. The petitioner will speak first, and the respondent will go second. Do not speak out of turn, do not lose your temper, and NEVER interrupt the judicial officer.
How It Ends. Frequently, at the end of the status conference, the judicial officer will ask one of the attorneys to draft an order and spell out the terms. This is the same thing as any other court order and is fully enforceable. If you have the option of negotiating the terms of the temporary order, do not agree to anything you cannot do because you will be required to comply with all of the terms.