Georgia Lord recently joined other custody litigation experts to teach child custody lawyers from Atlanta, Decatur, and DeKalb. Lord served as faculty at a Continuing Legal Education Seminar on “Advanced Issues Facing Custody Litigators and Guardians ad Litem.” Lord presented a scholarly assessment of the potential impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Marriage Equality decision. She reviewed the rules Georgia’s courts are likely to apply when deciding custody disputes between spouses or domestic partners of the same sex.
Georgia Lord also provided advice to prospective Guardians ad litem during the training. Guardians ad litem investigate custody disputes and make recommendations to the Judge regarding who will get custody. The Guardian works to provide the Judge with an objective assessment of which custody arrangement would best serve the child or children; she represents the “best interest” of the child or children whose custody is at issue. Lord is frequently appointed to serve as Guardian ad litem by local family court Judges.
During the final segment of the program, three local Judges shared their thoughts on issues that often arise in custody disputes. The participating Judges were Judge Jane Barwick and Judge Todd Markle of Fulton County and Judge J.P Boulee of DeKalb County. The reflections these Judges shared included:
- In deciding which parent will have primary custody, some key evidence is often how much child care each parent has provided in the past. The recommendation of a Guardian ad litem is also very important.
- A parent’s decision to move to another city and separate their child or children from the other parent is a serious matter, and often places burdens on the children. One Judge said that she would prefer that a parent ask for the court’s permission to relocate, rather than moving first and then seeking the court’s forgiveness.
- One Judge noted that when a teenager expresses his or her views about which parent should have custody, the Judge must consider whether one of the parents is using the child as a pawn. A courthouse is the last place an impressionable teen should be, he commented.
- It is very disappointing when a parent with primary custody refuses to allow the other parent to have time with their child.
- Not all pornography is the same. Some involves criminal acts, while other types may just indicate a lack of maturity.
- It is important to carefully consider how the behavior in question affects the parent / child relationship.
Many attorneys who attended the seminar complimented both its organizers and the faculty upon the high quality of the presentations.