Parties involved in a high conflict divorce/paternity case quite often believe that if they could just talk to the Judge privately and explain to the Judge how they feel and how evil the other parent truly is, then the Judge would give them what they want.
Some misguided parties actually call the Judge's office and ask to speak with the Judge about their case, and they are surprised to find out that the Judge's assistant will not connect them with the Judge because the Judge does not communicate with parties except in a courtroom with both parties present.
Other parties will try to send the Judge a letter hoping to secretly tell the Judge their version of the case without the other parent knowing. The letter will be sent back unread by the Judge or the Judge will file it with the Clerk of Court without reading it, and take note of the parent who tried to have an improper ex-parte communication.
If the Judge does communicate with a party or both parties in writing, it is always with a Court Order.
If a Judge ever sent a letter to the parties (this will never happen), the letter would look something like this:
I am the Judge assigned to your divorce / paternity case.
I hope to never meet you. I assure you I will never meet your children.
The only reason I have been assigned to your case is in the event that you cannot make your own decisions together or in the event that one or both of you act inappropriately by violating the law. In those cases, I have the authority to issue Orders telling each of you when you are allowed to see your children, dictating the terms of child support, property division, etc.
If my Orders are not obeyed, I may hold you in Contempt of Court and you may be sent to jail.
I am surprised every day by parents who proclaim to love their children and who insist they are only trying to do what is in the children's best interest but then they allow me, a total stranger, to set the rules of life for themselves and their children because they are too angry or stubborn to work together with the co-parent to finalize an agreement so that the parents make all the decisions and I make none.
If you insist upon me making decisions for you after a trial, I assure you that both parties will probably be disappointed because the reality is that parents together will make much better decisions for their children than a total stranger.
I will not allow you to use me to punish the other parent, and I promise you, I will NOT be fair. A Judge's oath requires them to follow the law, not be "fair" to a party.
Do not make the mistake of calling the children as witnesses to testify against the other parent or to tell me what a great parent you are. Do not put the children in the middle of your war.
Many parents make the mistake of insisting upon a trial so they can tell me how they "feel". They seem to think it important that the Judge understand their perspective. Believe me, I already know and understand your perspective if you are working hard to minimize the time the children spend with the other parent. You are emotionally in pain. Your dreams of happily ever after have been crushed. Your vision of the future has been altered by your co-parent and your need to hurt your co-parent has overwhelmed your good judgment.
· You are hurt when the children spend time with your co-parent because you suffer separation anxiety and you fear the children will love the co-parent more than you if they spend too much time with them.
· You are overlooking the fact that children need and love both parents and, unlike the romantic love once shared by their parents, the children's love will not fade or disappear over time. The romantic love that did not endure was destroyed by incompatibility and the children's love is not dependent upon that factor.
· You will claim that your motives are pure and you are only thinking about what is in the best interests of the children, but you are forgetting the fact that I will be enforcing the right of the children to spend time with their parents - not the right of the parents to spend time with their children.
· Your anger and pain and the need to strike back will inspire you to try to convince me that your co-parent is unworthy of spending as much time with the children as you, but the Judge does not punish a parent because of their failures as a spouse.The litigation process ending with a trial will leave scars on both parents and add to any hostility that already exists. You and your children will pay a heavy price if you go down that road. And be aware that a trial and Final Judgment is not even final. There can be rehearings and it can be appealed and later modified under certain circumstances. So if you are looking for "Justice" and "Fairness" and "Finality", you will not find it in my courtroom.
I look forward to receiving a signed agreement rather than a request for trial.
Your Circuit Judge
(This article was recently written by retired Attorney David Thomas.)