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Atlanta Divorce Attorney > Blog > Divorce > Will I Have a Jury Trial for My Family Law Case in Georgia?

Will I Have a Jury Trial for My Family Law Case in Georgia?


Having your case decided by a jury of your peers is a cornerstone of the American legal system. But will your family law case be heard by a  jury in Georgia? This is a question that many spouses and parents have in Georgia.

Is Your Family Law Case “Contested?”

 If you and the person  with whom you are having the family law dispute have reached a resolution and that resolution has been written into a document that you both have signed or will sign in the very near future, there is likely no need for your case to appear in Court. If there is no need for your case to appear in Court, then your case will not need a hearing or trial, let alone a jury trial. On the other hand, issues that  have not been resolved or cannot be resolved through out-of-court discussions may require a hearing or trial. In this situation, your case might go before a jury, if it is eligible to do so.

Bench Trials vs. Jury Trials in Georgia 

It is important to distinguish between a bench trial and a jury trial in Georgia. If only a judge has final decision-making authority, this is called a “bench trial.” A judge is empowered with the authority to make decisions on all aspects of family law cases. The judge can decide to hear all of the issues at once or bifurcate the case to hear, for example, the custody issues first and the money issues later.

In Georgia, a party to the case may request a jury, instead of the judge, to make decisions. Per Georgia law, a jury is only able to make decisions regarding monetary issues like child support, alimony, equitable division, etc. The trial may be conducted concurrently with the judge making the decisions about custody and the jury making the decisions about money.

What Happens during a Jury Trial for a Family Law Issue?

 A jury trial follows a few basic rules. The jurors must be residents of the county in which the case is being heard. The jurors are chosen from a jury pool. Both parties play a role in this selection process – known as “voir dire.” It can sometimes be a lengthy process in which counsel, as well as the court, asks questions of the jurors to ensure there is no bias (meaning none of the jurors know any of the parties, the lawyers or the judge), that none of the jurors have any ailments that prevent them from being able to listen and pay attention, that none of the jurors have any past history that would bias them in this particular case, etc.

There are benefits and drawbacks to trials with a jury. Some of the benefits are that if the judge has not been favorable to you in your case so far or if the judge is unpredictable, it may be helpful to get a jury involved. On the other hand, jury trials take longer and you are also putting the fate of your case in the hands of people who do not know the law and may decide things incorrectly.

Find a Qualified, Experienced Family Law Attorney in Georgia

 If you’ve been searching for a qualified, experienced Atlanta family law attorney, look no further than Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French. If you’re heading toward a jury trial for your family law dispute in Georgia, it is imperative to work with experienced litigators. Book a consultation today to develop an effective legal strategy as you approach your jury trial.




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