For divorce lawyers, accurately predicting how a judge will evaluate a legal position comes with deep courtroom experience.

Stepping foot into a family courtroom is a risky proposition. However comfortable we are with the facts of our client’s case, and with the legal theories we want to argue, we have one major factor that we always consider: Who will be making the decision?

Though some issues – like guideline child support, for instance – are not particularly affected by an individual judge’s opinion or perspective, most issues we deal with in family court are. As attorneys, we must consider how our argument will be viewed by the judge that is assigned to our case – and this we do through the lens of experience.

The more often we have appeared before a particular bench officer, the easier it becomes to predict how the judge will evaluate our legal position. And if we have not had much experience in front of a particular judge, we will also factor that into our strategy (and will also probably show up early to court that day so we can get a sense of the judge and her proclivities).

Figuring out how the law applies to a client’s set of individual facts is only part of what informs a solid case strategy. If we are unable to resolve the issues without the need for a court appearance, it is important to know who will be hearing the matter. Judges are also attorneys, after all, and reasonable attorneys can disagree on what we think are even the most basic legal theories.

Evaluating our fact finder is as important to our clients as evaluating the facts themselves.


Related posts:

Survival Tips for your Day in Divorce Court

The Realities of “Parental Alienation” and Family Court

Thoughts on Lawyers Behaving Badly in Divorce Court

So You’re Going to Court: RFO Hearings Explained

Which Path is for You: Collaborative, Mediation or Traditional Litigation?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neil M. E. Forester (@nmeforester) is Managing Shareholder of FORESTER PURCELL STOWELL PC, a Northern California law firm focused exclusively on specialized counsel for complex divorce and family law issues. He is recognized by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Family Law Specialist. Neil regularly represents business owners, professionals, and other high net worth individuals (or their spouses) in divorce, premarital agreements, and related actions. Beyond his legal practice, Neil serves as Board Chair for WEAVE and NorCal Boxer Rescue. He can be reached at or 916 293 4000. This information is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice.
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