Everyone knows, even in a general sense, that when you are involved in a legal dispute, you are entitled to “your day in court”. It is no different in Divorce Court. However, what is often very shocking for participants is that the “day in court” is really spent as a spectator rather than an actual litigant. If you go to any family law courtroom, before you even walk in the door, you will find a list of cases to be heard that day hanging outside the door. Generally, a list of cases on calendar can run anywhere from 30 cases or more. Further, this does not include many “ex parte” hearings that are not on the court’s official calendar, but need to be heard that day due to an emergency in the case. Litigants need to check in around 8:30 a.m. (this process usually takes some time depending on the number of cases to be heard that morning). After everyone is checked in, and each judge’s courtroom is typically run as they see fit, however, the general practice is that the litigants, through their respective attorneys, will “meet and confer” about the issue to be decided by the judge that day. This is generally a last attempt to resolve the issues without going before the judge.
As you can see, once you consider that, in general, you only have 3-½ hours, that being between 8:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. (the afternoon calendar is generally reserved for trials), to have your case heard, there isn’t much time for any particular case – especially if one particular case, for whatever reason, takes up more of the judge’s time. One could easily spend a good 5 hours (when travel time, time in line to get into the courthouse and get through the metal detectors are taken into consideration), yet only get 10 to 15 minutes of the judge’s time to hear the matter.
So what is the bottom line? If you are going to hire an attorney, make sure he/she knows what is important to you and will give you the straight-up, non sugar-coated advice you deserve, so you can decide if the issue is indeed that crucial to you. It can be very expensive to go to court and your attorney should know what issues are important to you to fight over and which are not.