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November Family Law Breakfast Features Judges Castellani and Gordon

by Louis Tessler

The Family Law Section breakfast on Nov. 4 was well attended and focused on family violence. First to speak was Superior Court Judge Robert J. Castellani, who (uniquely) hears all family violence petitions associated with cases assigned to his division. He discussed the improvement in the law associated with family violence, specifically the statutory authorization for rapid, efficient and effective family violence protective orders. Previously, parties involved in violent or threatening situations were obligated to use criminal proceedings – assault and battery charges – to deter violence. This was too often ineffective. Judge Castellani also discussed the difficulties unique to protective orders, including the tactical exploitation of restraining orders in domestic litigation, the high likelihood of the victim protecting the aggressor, and the ethical difficulties in representing an alleged aggressor.

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November Family Law Breakfast:
Domestic Violence and Family Law

Thursday, Nov. 4 • 7:30 a.m.
The Old Courthouse

The Hon. Robert J. Castellani, the Hon. Janis Gordon and Kim Frndak of the Women’s Resource Center will discuss Domestic Violence and Family Law from their own unique perspectives. DeKalb Superior Court Judge Castellani is one of the few judges who hears petitions under the Family Violence Act rather than assigning the matter to a magistrate. He sees families in turmoil, often already in the midst of a divorce. He says he is keenly aware of some of the ethical dilemmas we as attorneys may face when we have clients in these situations. Judge Castellani presides over these matters and addresses issues of custody and support intermingled with issues or incidents of domestic violence. Having handled many of these matters he is also aware of the resources available to families caught in the grip of DV.

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A View from Behind the Bench: Staff Attorneys from the DeKalb Superior Court Speak to FLS

by Louis Tesser

October’s meeting of the Family Law Section of the DeKalb Bar Association featured presentations by several of the staff attorneys of the Superior Court of DeKalb County, as well as Judge Mark Anthony Scott. The staff attorneys included Shannon Hicks (Judge Seeliger), Amy Daldry (Judge Coursey), Denise Warner (Judge Scott), and Bethany Embry (Judge Barrie). They discussed the policies of each division with respect to various family law issues.

We were reminded that there is a tremendous amount of differences among the bench with respect to the various policies:

  1. Some courts assign Guardian ad Litems to every contested custody case, others only upon a motion.
  2. Some courts require mediation, others mediate only upon request.
  3. There seems to be a tremendous variation in the availability of temporary hearings.
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Trial Lawyers Focus on Safety

The Trial Lawyers Section of DBA recently teamed up with SafeKids of DeKalb County on two events to make our community safer for children. On Sept. 11, TLS members Rick Alembik, Justin Hayes, Adrienne Hobbs, Chad Walker and Doug Aholt traveled to Clarkston City Hall to participate in the Clarkston Collaborative Bicycle Rodeo.

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Family Law Section – One Year Old and Growing Strong

The DeKalb County Bar Association Family Law Section is officially a year old — and 73 members strong! In the spring of 2009, a core group of family law attorneys met to address the need for a family law section in DeKalb County, based in part on increased domestic court filings: In 2009, of the approximate 14,000 superior court civil cases filed, almost 10,000 were domestic. Under the leadership of Denise VanLanduyt, of Denise VanLanduyt, Attorney at Law, LLC, and with the assistance of the immediate past president of the DeKalb Bar, Denise M. Warner, the family law section became a reality.

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