Temporary Hearing in Georgia Family Law Cases: The Uniform Superior Court Rules.
Domestic Relations cases are defined in Uniform Superior Court Rule 24.1 and include the following types of cases. A Divorce case regarding child support, child custody and visitation, alimony, property division, and/or attorney’s fees, an Annulment case, a Modification case, a Paternity case, a Legitimacy case, or in a case to terminate parental rights for Adoption, as well as Domestic Violence cases the parties may petition the court for a Temporary Hearing.
A Temporary Hearing will result in a Temporary Order that is designed to govern the parties while the case is pending. A Temporary Order can be modified during the process of a case, but ultimately the Temporary Order will be replaced by a Final Order at the end of the case.
Uniform Superior Court Rule 24.2 set out many rules regarding Temporary Hearings, including but not limited to the following: In these cases when a Temporary Hearing is scheduled, each party is required to submit their Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit at least 5 days prior to the hearing. If child support is at issue, then the parties are also required to submit the Child Support Worksheets mandated by O.C.G.A. Section 19-6-15 in the same time frame.
A failure of either party to submit the Affidavit and Child Support Worksheets may result in the court holding the offending party in contempt, or may cause the hearing to be removed from the calendar and delayed. A template of the Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit is set out in Rule 24.2.
Notice of a Temporary Hearing date must be served on the parties at least 15 days prior to the hearing, unless ordered otherwise by the judge/court.
Rule 24.2A sets out the manner in which the conversion of economic data from weekly to monthly figures is to be calculated. The Child Support Worksheets and the Financial Affidavit are based on monthly amounts. A conversion factor of 4.35 weeks per month must be used. In calculating a monthly income for 40 hours of work per week, the hourly salary must be multiplied by 174 hours to arrive at the monthly amount of total income.
Rule 24.5 restricts the number of witnesses that may give oral testimony at a Temporary Hearing. The parties are limited to each party plus one witness that may give oral testimony. Other witnesses may offer their testimony by deposition or affidavit only. All affidavit must be served on the opposing side at least 24 hours before the hearing.
Temporary Hearings are not required in these cases, but in situations where one party or both are in need of an immediate order, this is the way that is achieved. Temporary Hearings are very important. A Final Order is not required to mimic or be the same as a Temporary Order, but many times they are the same or very similar. Thus, a Temporary Hearing may or will have a lot to do with the final outcome in the case. Any evidence admitted in the Temporary Hearing is already admitted to evidence and will play out in the Final Trial of the matter. It is also true that most judges will remember what transpired in the Temporary Hearing and that memory does and may guide the judge’s final decision.
If you are engaged in a Domestic Relations case and there is a Temporary Hearing scheduled or contemplated, it is extremely important that you have a qualified attorney there to represent you.