Late Case Evaluations are a tool used by Fulton County in divorce cases. Once a case gets to the 120-day status conference or beyond, a judge may order the parties to complete a Late Case Evaluation. Normally, a judge will order an evaluation done if they believe the case can be settled before a final trial.
Why do an evaluation before final trial?
First and foremost, final trials are costly. A party will not only have to bear the cost of the final trial itself but also the time it takes for the attorneys to get prepared for the trial. Late Case Evaluation is similar to Mediation in that it will save both parties time and money. Also, a final trial only stretches out the divorce process. It may be months before a final trial can be scheduled. Overall, there are huge financial and mental burdens that are added when a divorce case goes to final trial. A Late Case Evaluation is one alternative that can help relieve some of those burdens.
What is the purpose?
There will be an evaluator appointed for the late case evaluation. According to Fulton Superior Court Family Division Rules, “The late case evaluator, in a non-binding setting, shall hear from both parties and then shall make recommendations for the parties to consider for purposes of settlement. 3000-3 Similar to mediators, evaluators act as neutral third parties during the entire process. A late case evaluation could take a couple of hours or all day. Each respective party and their attorneys will have to take time beforehand in order to prepare evidence to present to the evaluator.
On the day of the evaluation, each side will get their turn to present their argument for the settlement and their evidence. On top of making a settlement recommendation, the evaluator can offer their view of what would happen if the case went to a final trial. The insights from the evaluator may help push parties to resolve any major disagreements and come to a settlement. After the late case evaluation is complete, if there is no settlement reached then the judge will schedule the case for final trial. It is important to have an experience Fulton County Family Law attorney to help guide you through the Late Case Evaluation process.