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Preparing Affidavits for Use at a Temporary Custody Hearing in Georgia

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When one or both spouses decide to separate and file for divorce, their main concern is often the changes in lifestyle for their children. Where and with whom they will live, when they will see the other parent, and provisions for child support are issues that need to be dealt with sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, the court process does not always keep pace with real life issues as they emerge, so if a temporary agreement cannot be reached, a temporary custody hearing may be necessary.

The Temporary Hearing

In Georgia, temporary hearings are used to make decisions on issues requiring immediate relief between the filing of a divorce petition and the final decree of divorce. These preliminary decisions can include child custody and visitation schedules, as well as child support, temporary alimony and payment of attorneys’ fees.

Because the courts realize that both parties need immediate relief and assistance long before the divorce is final, either party can file a petition for a temporary custody hearing. The purpose of this custody hearing is to decide on a temporary custody arrangement that’s in the best interest of the child until the divorce is final and more permanent arrangements can be made.

The Importance of Affidavits at a Temporary Custody Hearing

Because a temporary hearing is not a full trial and because it is not a permanent resolution, each litigant is only allowed one live witness in court.

However, in accordance with Uniform Superior Court Rule 24.5(A), additional testimony is allowed by submitting affidavits from additional witnesses through sworn affidavits. Many people think that an affidavit doesn’t carry as much weight as a live witness, but that’s not always the case, so the use and preparation of affidavits at a temporary custody hearing are very important.

Since an affidavit is a written statement from one person that’s sworn to truth in front of a notary, the affidavit carries the same weight as a live witness. Furthermore, an affidavit can’t be cross-examined by opposing counsel, so it’s difficult to cast doubt on its credibility if the affidavit is prepared well. Therefore, it’s vital to ensure that the person who signs and swears to the truthfulness of the affidavit is credible as well as the testimony.

Creating And Preparing Affidavits

Because these affidavits will be submitted to the court and read by the judge in your case, it’s important to make sure they are given the utmost care. Both the quality and the quantity of the affidavits are important.

Who should you ask to write an affidavit for you? While many people request them from relatives (and those are important), you should also request affidavits from non-relatives who can corroborate your testimony and the testimony from other witness affidavits.  Affidavits from individuals such as teachers, caregivers, medical providers, coaches and neighbors who are not inherently biased like a family member are more likely to be persuasive and effective.  Submitting affidavits from several people from several different areas of your family’s life can also bolster credibility of your affidavits collectively.

The affidavit should not be long, and should include well-written, factual statements that include specific reasons for those statements and opinions and how the individual came to his or her opinion. For instance, simply stating that one of the parties is unfit to be a parent is less effective than listing the reasons why someone would believe the party is unfit. If your witness can recall specific examples and instances of the point they are trying to convey, that is far more credible than just conclusive opinions. The affidavits collectively can address both positive attributes of your parenting as well as concerns regarding your spouse. While you don’t need your witness to write a novel for the court to read, you do want to make sure it contains enough facts and examples to support the opinion your witness is offering.

You should also make sure that the affidavits you submit do not contain conflicting information.  Therefore, before submitting anything to the court, it’s critical to make sure that you and your divorce attorney review everything to make sure they support your case.

Contact our Atlanta family law attorneys at Buckhead Family Law for help with a temporary custody hearing in Georgia. Our lawyers can help you with the proper affidavits and make sure you’re well prepared for court. Get a consultation by calling at 404-600-1403, or contact us online today.

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