Over the years, I have listened to all manner of complaints from clients about the Judge in their divorce case. In my experience, a person going through divorce is much more likely to voice frustration than relay something positive after their day in court. Complaints range from mild concerns with a Judge’s demeanor to outright conspiracy theories that the Judge has vendetta against them and is secretly conspiring with their spouse’s attorney. The common thread to most of these complaints? It boils down to a belief that the Judge dislikes, or even hates them. There are 3 reasons why this very likely isn’t the case:
1. Judges overseeing a divorce case are not your friends; don’t expect them to act like it.
People often expect a reaction of sympathy or understanding when divulging traumatic or deeply personal facts about their lives to a Judge. “I just explained how my kids cry every time they have to go to their dad’s for visitation, and he didn’t even care!” Judge’s hear these narratives all the time and aren’t likely to be shocked by anything. And more importantly, they are not there to provide consolation and emotional support. A Judge’s job is to be impartial and rule on the facts. Don’t take it personally.
2. Don’t Judge a book by its cover.
See what I did there? Word play aside, this saying is spot on when it comes to someone’s belief that a Judge doesn’t like them. The truth is we have no idea what a Judge is thinking. They may have a professional persona, or poker face, that doesn’t belie any hints to what they are feeling. Even if they do appear frustrated or annoyed, it could be about an earlier case, a problem with one of their staff, stress from a busy day or a million other things that have nothing to do with the people before them.
3. No, the Judge isn’t conspiring against you.
This concern often arises when a Judge is cordial or appears friendly with the opposing attorney. The reality is that Judges and attorneys see each other a lot. They run in the same circles at events, conferences and, of course, the courthouse. That breeds familiarity and professional courtesy. This does not mean they are hatching a secret plan to illegally advantage one spouse over the other.