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What is a Joint Compliance Certificate in a Georgia divorce?

A previous post here discussed some of the basic structure that a couple contemplating the end of a marriage might expect from the family courts during a divorce process in Georgia. Because of the state's policy of favoring amicable resolution of family matters, for the welfare of all involved, as well as the expense to society, this structure includes several potential status conferences. These conferences allow the court to monitor the progress of the case and encourages the parties to work together to find common ground for a settlement.

Readers may remember that most Georgia divorces will contain at least a 30-day and a 60-day status conference. Although these events are important and should not be missed without authorization, there are times when the actual conferences themselves may not be necessary. For example, in Fulton County a 30-day or 60-day status conference can be cancelled by the court if the parties complete certain steps and file a Joint Compliance Certificate in the case.

For a 30-day conference, the certificate must be filed with the assurance that temporary issues are resolved and that mandatory discovery has been completed, or will be within 20 days, by a specific date. There are several worksheets that are filed with the certificate, and it needs to be filed at least five days before the scheduled conference.

A 60-day conference may be avoided by the filing of a separate Joint Compliance Certificate that certifies, through the attachment of a form called a "Consolidated Scheduling Order," that details when and how the parties will complete full discovery, any necessary counseling or reports from appointed professionals, such as Guardians ad Litem and mediation sessions. This certificate must also be filed five days prior to the scheduled conference and will also contain a statement regarding whether a late case evaluation will facilitate settlement, as well as an appropriate form for the court to schedule a 120-day conference, in necessary.

It is generally in everyone's best interests that divorces be settled as amicably as possible. However, it is also important that each party understand and protect their own legal rights. Navigating the divorce process isn't easy and those going through it may need to get more information about their legal options.

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