7 Things Judges Hate
You don't want to annoy the judge. He or she is there to hear your dispute and help bring about resolution in the least painful way possible. So do the judge a favor and don't do these things, not in any particular order:
1. Asking For A Drug Test
Yes, I know you're angry. No, the fact that your ex was drunk last Saturday night does not make him or her an alcoholic who should not be around the children. Drug tests are serious business and can include urine, blood, hair or nail testing. Each test can cost at least $150 and if your ex passes the test, it can mean that you are responsible to pay the $150. Judges know that people play this tit for tat game and build protections into any drug testing order. You should not ask the judge to order a drug/alcohol test unless you yourself are also ready to take the same test and know that you will come out clean. Save the request for drug test for serious cases only, and the judge will thank you.
2. Expecting Different Treatment
Your situation is unique and has probably never happened to you before. You want the judge to know every detail leading up to who did what to whom. What's important to remember is that the judge isn't concerned if your ex was a horrible jerkface. He or she has seen hundreds or even thousands of similar cases with similar facts to yours. Divorce, equitable distribution, custody, support and other concerns brought to the judge are decided based on Pennsylvania law. Your situation may have sucked terribly, but there are no punishments and awards given based on such things. Pretend your situation is like a business and you must deal with the other person civilly. This is even more important when you consider that he or she is going to be in your life for many more years if you have young children. There is no favoritism from the judge and your case will be handled accordingly.
Please be on time for your court hearings. Everyone's time is valuable and the court is like a finely oiled machine, all parts need to be functioning. Answer questions clearly, don't interrupt, don't make faces, don't whisper under your breath. Dress neatly. Don't talk over the judge, the lawyers or too fast for the court reporter.
4. Asking For The Impossible
Want your ex to hand in some documents? Ask for a discovery order. Need to have your parenting plan made more specific? Ask for dates/times/places and people to be included. Your ex not doing what you feel is best for the kids? Sorry, can't help you there. Safety concerns can always be discussed, but parents feel differently about bedtimes, food, education, and other kids' issues. The judge is not there to tell you or your ex how to raise your children. Please don't ask for that.
5. Not Showing Up
This is taking rudeness to a whole new level. Why aren't you there in person? It happens more than you think it does. It's fine if you live more than 100 miles away from the courthouse, but don't forget to inform the court personnel that you would like to testify by telephone. Emergencies do happen; remember to have the court's phone number available so you can call in. Bottom line: not showing up without a darn good reason is just wrong, and courts routinely order against that person or, the next time he or she does ask for the court's help, it might not happen.
6. Not Trying To Settle First
We are here because we have a dispute about X. Ok, well did you try to talk to the other side about your problem with X and how can we resolve it? Wait - you filed your petition immediately because you would rather let the judge handle all of it? Sorry folks, that's not how it's done. Court is supposed to be the last, final resort - not the first step. The next best thing, if the other side filed a petition without discussing it with you, have your attorney call them and discuss. At least then you can honestly tell the judge you tried to work it out.
7. Involving Children In Your Dispute
Almost all judges are not cool with fighting in front of your children, speaking ill of the other parent, or having a child go to court to talk about what's going on. A few judges will consent to interviewing children but that is reserved for the most serious situations. Legal disputes are adult matters and children should not have to deal with such things. If it's upsetting you, imagine how your 10 year old must feel. Call your best friend, speak with a counselor, have lunch with your mom, but please don't involve your kids. Even better, make sure your kids have a counselor or therapist they can confide in.