Where To Find Family Court Records In Georgia?
Family law affairs in Georgia pertain to issues of relationship within the family unit, including divorce, child support, custody issues, adoption, etc. These affairs are handled by the state Superior courts in each county which have absolute equity over cases of family law in the state.
Family court records in the state are generated and maintained by the relevant court where the cases were handled which are usually the superior courts in the county where the parties reside. Inquirers seeking access to these records may send requests to the County Clerk of Courts while following all laid down protocol as the process of retrieval may differ from county to county.
The Georgia government also provides a Division of Child Support Services and Division of Family and Child Services under the Department of Human Services which handles the intricacies of Child support cases and family issues generally. These include; opening a child support case, finding the non-custodial parent, setting up payment, adoption, foster care, child care, and parent services, etc.
What Is Family Law In Georgia?
The Georgia Code: Title 19 has 15 chapters dedicated to addressing various aspects of domestic relations within the state.
Chapter 1 - General provisions
Chapter 2 - Domicile
Chapter 3 - Marriage (General)
Chapter 4 - Marriage annulment
Chapter 5 - Divorce/dissolution of marriage
Chapter 6 - Child support and Alimony
Chapter 7 - parent and child relationship (General)
Chapter 8 - Adoption
Chapter 9 - Child custody
Chapter 10 - Spouse or Child Abandonment
Chapter 10A - Safe home for newborns
Chapter 11 - Enforcement of duty of support
Chapter 12 - Name Change
Chapter 13 - Domestic Violence
Chapter 14 - Prevention of Neglect and Child abuse
Chapter 15 - Child Abuse
However, the following are the major practice areas of family law in the state.
- Marriage (Chapter 3)
This chapter addresses the procedure and requirement for obtaining marriage licenses, validity of marriage, division of marital property, marriage age requirement and consent, and reasons or conditions for annulment and prohibited marriages.
- Divorce (Chapter 5)
This chapter addresses grounds and conditions for divorce, the number of divorces authorized, transfer of property, the effect of divorce, restoration of prior or maiden name and condition of remarriage, etc.
- Child Custody Proceedings(Chapter 9)
This chapter covers issues of parenting plans, investigation of likely abuse or neglect, visitation rights of violent parents, custody agreements, right of the child to choose custodial parent, consideration of child’s educational needs, grandparent visitation rights, etc.
What Are Family Court Cases And Records In Georgia?
Cases that pertain to annulment and divorces, child custody and support, alimony, adoption, and other domestic situations are family court cases in Georgia. Apart from some domestic violence cases, family law cases are regarded as civil. Records generated from these processes are kept and maintained in the respective courthouses where the cases were finalized.
Common family court cases heard in the family divisions of Georgia superior courts include;
- Annulment and Divorces
- Child custody and Paternity
- Juvenile matters
- Name Changes
- Adoption and termination of parental rights, etc.
Are Family Court Cases Public Records In Georgia?
As provided by the Georgia Open Records Act, family court records are considered public records unless otherwise specified by law. Citizens of the state can request to view and inspect these records without stating the purpose or reason. In fact, the government places no restrictions on how these records may be used.
Because of the sensitive nature of family court records, not all of them are available for public perusal. Marriage, divorce, and child support hearing details are open to the public while adoption and juvenile proceedings are confidential and can only be accessed with proper court orders.
The parties involved in a case may petition the court to have their records sealed or restricted. To have such records sealed, the parties involved will need to provide the court with substantial reasons why public scrutiny of the records may be detrimental to either or both parties.
How Do I Find Family Court Records In Georgia?
Court clerks in Georgia maintain all records, files, and documents generated during the legal proceedings. As such, domestic case records are generally available at the offices of the Clerks of Superior Courts. These clerks maintain a unified portal known as Georgia Clerks Authority where their addresses, contact details as well as online search databases, and filing costs can be located.
Even then, the processes of obtaining family court records are subject to local guidelines and may differ from one court to another. For instance, the clerk of Athens-Clarke County, requires submitting a request form in person or via mail to;
Athens-Clarke County Unified Government
P. O. Box 1868
Athens, Georgia 30603
In Fulton County, the Clerk of Court provides inquirers with a searchable online database for searching judicial records; with options of mail, telephone calls, and onsite visits.
FULTON COUNTY COURT
136 Pryor Street S. W.
Atlanta, GA 30303
All forms of family court records are not administered by the courthouse. Certified copies of Georgia divorce records are not primarily issued by the clerks. Instead, they are made available for inspection and copying at the Georgia Department of Public Health, Vital Records Division. These certified records do not carry secondary details of a divorce. They only serve as proof that a divorce took place. Divorce case files and divorce decrees are maintained by the court clerks. These records contain more details pertaining to divorces.
How Do I Find Family Court Records Online In Georgia?
The Judicial Council Of Georgia provides a case search portal known as E-Access Court Records, where interested persons can search and locate court records. In addition, inquirers may search the websites of the respective clerks of courts for online records.
What Is Georgia Custody Law?
Georgia along with other states in America have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA) that seeks to simplify the complexity of Child Custody matters. The state laws allow parents joint custody of a child and also the rights or benefits of grandparent visitation.
Two types of custodies recognized in Georgia courts include physical and legal custody. Physical custody pertains to the guardian or parent which the child will live with and legal custody pertains to the parent or guardian that will make major life decisions for the child. According to the laws, one or both parents could have legal and physical custody (joint legal custody) making it possible for both parents to make major life decisions for the child.
The law also provides that, If the child whose custody is being debated is 14 years old or older, he or she may decide who to live with. However, the presiding judge may invalidate the decision if it is determined that the child’s decision may not be beneficial to the child’s best interests. In doing that, the courts may assess each parent’s;
- Relationship or bond with the child
- Mental and physical health
- Living conditions
- Work skills, employment, and income capacity
- History of child abuse and domestic violence,
- Primary Caretaker of the Child.
- Children’s ease of adjusting to the learning environment and community.
- Child’s age and gender, etc
The courts also consider the role of primary caretaker as a major factor in determining custody arrangements. A primary caretaker is a parent who directly cares for the child by;
- Participating in extracurricular activities
- Teaching and writing skills
- Meal preparation
- Meal planning
- Laundry obligations and buying of clothes.
- Health care, etc.
Georgia child custody laws are gender-neutral. This means that there shall be no special rights for the mother and father of a child. The law also carves up parenting plans as part of the custody agreement. This plan contains details of the child’s living arrangements, child support, and needs as the child matures, how birthdays and holidays will be spent, and how decisions will be made for the child.
How To Find Family Court Lawyers in Georgia?
Georgia State Bar provides members of the public with means to find family court lawyers within the state. Also, local firms and organizations provide residents and citizens of the state with Family legal aid and pro bono services in cities and counties across the state.