Knowing Your Judge
The Judge plays a very important role in your dissolution case. A dissolution trial is a bench trial, meaning there is no jury. The Judge is the fact finder and the one that makes the ruling. Knowing your Judge and how they like to run their courtroom can give you an edge on your case. Knowing what is important to your Judge regarding your specific issues will help you determine if you want to have a trial, settle your case, or at least a particular issue.
Some Judges believe in equal time-sharing no matter what. Other judges will listen to the evidence first and then determine the best interest factors. Some judges start out with equal time sharing being in the best interest and they take evidence to alter that position. This is just one example on how the Judge in one case may rule differently than another judge. The judge will follow the law; however, domestic court is a court of equity, not a court of law so there is a lot of room for discretion.
The Judge can be the key to ending highly disputed issues that the parties can just not settle amongst themselves. The Judge will make orders and be ready to enforce them if they are not followed.
The Attorney's Role
Attorneys can assist you with knowing how your particular judge feels about certain issues. They can advise you if you have a case that would be good for a trial or not. Attorney’s usually base it on your Individual goals for the resolution of your case. It is always better for parties to settle their case without the need for judicial intervention. However, if they cannot the judge is there to: Review pleadings, listen to evidence, weigh the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses, and make a ruling that will be reduced to a written order. The judge will also maintain jurisdiction over the case for a period of time to enforce the order that was entered (as applicable).