If you are getting divorced, unless your case is a simple “uncontested divorce”, then a Judge will be assigned to your case and you will need to go to Court. You may even have to go to trial. Therefore, it is important to know what the Judge’s role is and what you need to know when you go to Court.
- What Does a Judge Do? Unlike a criminal case, in a divorce case, a Judge does not find you “guilty”, “innocent”, or sentence you to jail (unless they find you in contempt of court, more on that later).
Before there is a divorce trial, typically there will be many court conferences. Although every Judge handles their court conferences differently, in general terms, at a court conference, the Judge determines the basic facts of the case. Also, before a trial, there may be temporary orders or decisions that apply while the divorce case is pending. A typical example is a temporary order of child support.
Sometimes, a Judge will tell the attorneys their general feeling about the case. Although these are not formal rulings, your attorney will be able to know which way the Judge is leaning towards and guide you accordingly.
If there is a trial, the Judge will hear the evidence, rule on any objections and sometimes ask the witness some of their own questions. At the end of a trial, it is extremely rare for a Judge to issue a ruling. Instead, the Judge will compare his/her notes and consider the evidence. The Judge will issue a written decision which is usually mailed to the attorneys.
As mentioned above, a divorce case is not a criminal case. However, if you disobey a Judge’s Order or act in such a manner that causes you to be in “contempt”, then it is possible that a Judge could find you in “contempt of court” and in extreme cases, decide that you should be in contempt.
- Dress Appropriately. What you wear to Court will impact how a Judge sees you. If you are claiming that you do not have any money or resources, then you should not be wearing expensive jewelry or thousand-dollar suits. In contrast, if you are someone who does earn a good income, then going to Court in old pants and a ripped shirt, will make the Judge know that you are not telling the truth. Generally, you should wear “business casual” attire and not a lot of jewelry.
- Don’t Interrupt the Judge. When the Judge speaks, you listen. If the Judge asks you a question, then answer the question. Sounds simple enough, but, I’ve seen clients who talk over a Judge and I’ve seen clients who don’t directly answer the Judge’s question. If a Judge asks you a question, typically keep your answers short and to the point. Your attorney can always expand upon your answer.
- Don’t Waste the Judge’s Time. A Judge will have hundreds of cases. Do not bring frivolous issues or simple disputes to the courtroom. A Judge does not want to be bothered with something that should be worked out between divorcing couples. A good example is what to do with your personal property (furniture, TVs, computers, clothing). Most Judges do not want to be bothered with dividing up personal property. They expect the clients to be able to divide the personal property in a fairly equal manner. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. If you have expensive jewelry, art collections, sports collections or other things of value, a Judge may have to decide how those items are divided up.
- Be Prepared, but, Don’t Be Like a Robot: If you are going to trial, then you need to be prepared. Your attorney will review your case with you. However, when you are a witness, you do not want to look like you have memorized your answers or look like a robot when answering your questions. Most clients are very nervous when they are on the witness stand. That is to be expected, and a Judge will understand that you are nervous. In contrast, if you look like you have memorized your answers, a Judge may hold that against you.
- Do Not Lie. This may be the most important rule. If a Judge catches you lying or believes that you are either lying or not telling the whole truth, this could ruin your whole case. It is much better, to tell the truth — no matter, how damaging it might be — then to lie.
A Judge will be one of the most important parts of your divorce matter. Each Judge handles their divorce cases differently. David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office, P.C. has extensive experience with all the Suffolk County and Nassau County Judges. Mr. Badanes is well respected and knows that the Judges what an attorney who is honest and does not waste their time. If you are contemplating a divorce or just served divorce papers call David Badanes at 631-239-1702.