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Why is the legitimacy of Fulton County's Family Court being questioned?

It's not often that family law cases here in Georgia make national headlines, but thanks to a recently filed petition in the ongoing divorce litigation involving author and socialite Danielle Rollins, and her ex-husband Glen Rollins, the heir to the Orkin Pest Control fortune, legal circles across the nation are now buzzing.

Indeed, the petition, filed by Danielle Rollins' attorneys, calls the very legitimacy of the Family Division of the Fulton County Superior Court into question.

What does the petition say?

The petition argues that the statute otherwise authorizing the existence of Fulton County's Family Court effectively expired back on July 1, 2010 after two bills calling for the extension of its life failed in the General Assembly.    

It goes on to state that the Superior Court passed a "Resolution Seeking Family Division Approval" in June 2010 that was ratified by the Georgia Supreme Court later that same month, and that both courts exceeded their respective authority in taking these steps.

In essence, the petition argues Fulton County's Family Court has no constitutional basis to exist.

What type of relief is requested in the petition?

The petition seeks the following relief:

  • A declaratory judgment that the existence of Fulton County's Family Court is a violation of the state constitution.
  • A writ prohibiting the Family Court's Chief Judge from "exceeding her jurisdiction."
  • A temporary and permanent injunction keeping the Family Court's Chief Judge from presiding over the Rollins divorce.
  • An order re-assigning the case to a judge outside Fulton County.

Could this petition have a ripple effect on other Fulton County divorces?    

It remains unclear at this point how a successful petition would affect the thousands of dissolution of marriage cases overseen by Fulton County's Family Court since 2010. However, it should be noted that the petition limits the relief sought to just the Rollins litigation.  

What are the named courts and state lawmakers saying about this petition?

For their part, the named parties along with several state lawmakers have remained steadfast in their belief that everything was conducted within the scope of the law, and that the legitimacy and jurisdiction of Fulton County's Family Court cannot be questioned.

Is there anything else worth noting about this petition?

Some experts are raising the possibility that this is nothing more than a complex effort to invalidate a recent decision by the Family Court's Chief Judge finding Danielle Rollins in criminal contempt of court regarding her handling of certain property-related issues in the divorce.

Stay tuned for updates on this fascinating divorce story.

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