Paying Attention To Your Judge

I am always amazed how many clients will "listen" to what the judge is saying but not necessarily "hear" or "process" what the judge is telling them during a divorce case. There is a current television show on Showtime, The Affair, which in every episode provides at least two perspectives of how the events of the drama are heard, remembered and processed by the characters.

Most judges very clearly give indications of their thoughts and concerns or the weight that they are giving to the information disclosed at a court conference. The trick is for the client to understand the importance of what is being said and how it is being said. I recently was in court with a client who had on prior occasions managed to say the wrong thing to the judge and receive a lecture. On the next court appearance I all but begged the client to say nothing and to allow me to do all of the talking. I had to spend half an hour with the client trying to explain the lessons learned from the prior court appearances with the judge in the case. Finally, the client understood that telling the judge that a child getting 70s and not 60s in school is not doing well and may still benefit from an educational assessment.

Most judges will not be in favor of boyfriends or girlfriends being introduced to young children at the early or middle stages of a contested divorce. Some clients will absolutely agree and others will tell me about their rights and that the judge should not interfere with their social life and that the children "love" their significant other.

Experienced matrimonial attorneys will know the judge's typical responses or will be able to explain to their client the judge's perception and feeling about an issue. It is up to the client to work within those parameters while the case is pending to obtain the best results.