Review of Hammer v. Turpen | Russell H. Hippe, III | Atlanta Divorce Attorney

Hamner v. Turpen, 319 Ga. App. 619, 737 S.E.2d 721 (2013) – 2013 Georgia Family Law Case Review by Atlanta Divorce Attorney Russell H. Hippe, III

Case Type: Jurisdiction / Venue of Modification

Brief Summary of Facts: Husband, resident of Rabun County, filed contempt motion in Gwinnett Co., county of ex wife’s residence. Ex wife filed a modification in Gwinnett and the actions were consolidated. Husband never filed any objection to venue over the modification action in his answer.

Trial Judge: J. Turner, Gwinnett County

Ruling of Trial Court: Trial court granted Husband’s motion to transfer venue to Rabun county.

Holding of Court of Appeals: Reversed. Court of Appeals noted that venue was waived by Husband’s failure to raise it in his answer.

Statement of Georgia Family Law Re Venue Waiver:

Improper venue clearly may be waived, even in child custody cases. West’s Ga.Code Ann. § 9–11–12(b). Hamner v. Turpen, 319 Ga. App. 619, 737 S.E.2d 721 (2013)

Practice Take Away: If you want to transfer venue, you need to make sure you raise the venue objection timely in your answer or initial motion to dismiss. A modification action is a separate action and care must be used if it is being asserted as a counterclaim, which is technically incorrect, but this technicality can be and is often waived via consent / consolidation orders. Care must be used in entering these consolidation / consent orders.