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Getting along with your family court judge

by Dinnebier & Demmerle on December 1, 2014

family court judgeSay you and your spouse have filed for divorce. You have each hired excellent attorneys. Communication among all parties is cordial; the process is moving along smoothly. You are set to appear before a family court judge, and looking forward to a successful legal divorce. Then you meet your judge, and everything you expect to happen does not. Perhaps your attorney does not get along with the judge or you disagree with some of what the judge says and rules. The expense of a trial can deplete the very assets that are often the subject of the dispute. Even simple matters can require several appearances to complete, and after spending many thousands of dollars, spouses and their attorneys are left with the total uncertainty of how a judge will rule. Is there something you can do – specifically, can you get a different judge to hear your divorce?

It is not an easy matter to change judges, but it is possible. Parties to a case have the opportunity to petition for recusal of a judge that they believe will render a biased verdict. The rules for petitioning a recusal are governed by the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP). Proving bias on the part of the judge can be difficult, and without excellent reason, your request may be denied. Your or your attorney’s personal feelings or opinions will not be considered sufficient reason to change judges. Also, you might want to examine your own mindset or behavior to be sure that there is nothing you are doing that might aggravate or disrupt the progress of the court.

Here are a few examples that go along with getting along well in court:

  1. Are you prepared to answer questions if they are posed to you? (Assume that all attorneys present are well prepared with all relevant documentation.)
  2. Be courteous and polite to all parties, including your soon-to-be ex spouse and all officers of the court.
  3. Divorce can be a very emotional undertaking, but when you are in court, focus on the judge and on answering his or her questions clearly and without emotional tinge. While television courtrooms may feature highly emotional conflicts between parties, actual California courtrooms are not the place for you or anyone else to stage a drama.
  4. Be respectful. Be truthful. And never argue with the judge.

Readers should also keep in mind that the content of this blog is intended not as legal advice, but only for information and/or discussion purposes. Should you have questions or concerns about how California family law may apply to you, you may wish to consult a knowledgeable family law attorney. 

As Orange County’s premier family law specialists, the attorneys at Dinnebier & Demmerle can provide answers to your questions and concerns, clarify and establish your legal rights, and represent you in court. If you would like more information about emancipation or any other aspect of California family law, please call to set up a consultation. We’re ready to move forward when you are. Just contact us in Tustin at 714-838-1099.

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