40 Stories - Judge Alison Arce

Judge Alison Arce

Judge Alison Arce has had the desire to be a lawyer since the age of 12.  She realized she would make a good lawyer when she started winning arguments with her parents.  Graduating from the University Of Richmond School Of Law in 1996 Judge Arce began practicing law in Atlanta in 1997 with a small Buckhead firm focused on transportation legal issues.  Sometimes her transportation clients would ask her to help with personal family legal issues as they popped up.  Though Judge Arce only took one family law class in school, after beginning to work in family law she found it sparked her interest and passion.

As this interest grew, Judge Arce decided to leave the area of transportation law to start her own practice in family law.  She wanted to have more control over who she represented, and to focus her work on doing what was in the best interest of the children involved.  All things being equal Judge Arce cares about being able to identify with each client to work for what works best for the children if they are present. 

After applying to become a Judicial Officer in December 2005 Judge Arce, to her surprise, was appointed and sworn in at the age of 33 as a Judicial Officer in Fulton County Superior Court’s Family Division. And 4 years ago she became a Magistrate Judge.  The Family Division began in July 1998 as a pilot project designed to help families in crisis by using both judicial adjudication and service intervention. Because the Family Division has jurisdiction over divorce, separation, annulment, custody and visitation, child support, contempt, modification, paternity, adoption, termination of parental rights and domestic violence this felt like a natural progression for Judge Arce. 

What got Judge Arce particularly interested in domestic violence cases was the commonness of the allegations during divorces cases.  What prides Judge Arce the most is the model Fulton County uses for hearing domestic violence cases.  The American Bar Association holds their process as a model for other court systems.

In a typical day for Judge Arce starts with about 50 second hearing TPO cases, which if successful will grant the survivors TPO for a full 12 months.  Of the 50 about 35 are ready to be heard each day. A TPO or Temporary Restraining Order is a civil order that may be issued when family violence or stalking has occurred.  For a family violence TPO, Judge Arce and the Fulton County Court System, provide referrals to the Safe Families Office (SFO), which is a joint partnership between the Superior Courts, PADV, and Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, to provide safety planning and legal assistance to survivors of domestic violence.    

Because of her time as an attorney she can put herself in the shoes of attorneys and clients and because Judge Arce has seen so many domestic violence cases she can identify domestic violence as soon as the case starts.  Judge Arce feels that part of what she is doing is giving victims a voice because often times they aren’t believed.  It’s important for her that victims feel heard and believed. 

If you are in need of a TPO in Fulton County please visit their website here for a complete list of instructions or call our crisis line at 404-873-1766.

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