If you have been through divorce then you are familiar with the rules and procedures that govern the legal process of divorce. Divorce is a civil action, and every state has rules of civil procedure that are supposed to be followed during the divorce process.
What you don’t hear about — but have probably fallen victim to — are the unwritten rules. These are the rules that define how judges and lawyers conduct themselves with each other.
These unwritten rules can have more to do with the outcome of a divorce case than the written rules.
When Lawyers and Judges Cover For Each Other
Most judges and lawyers will not report each other for misconduct or violations of judicial ethics. Judges especially can get away with bad behavior, because lawyers don’t want to get on a judge’s bad side. Lawyers know they will go before the judge again, and staying chummy with the judge can be more important than their client getting a high standard of care in a lot of situations.
I have a close friend who took her ex-spouse back to court seven times in an attempt to collect child support. She has a court order that he pay a certain amount per month and her attorney requested the judge sign anincome withholding order so that her ex spouse’s wages could be garnished.
It has been two years since her last court appearance and she is still waiting for the judge to sign the income withholding order and still living with her ex slow leaking child support payments to her at his whim.
What has her attorney done? Nothing, he is afraid of “pissing off the judge.” And, according to her attorney pissed off judges take out their anger on attorneys and their clients. I witnessed this happen during my own divorce and have heard story after story from men and women who were held hostage by attorneys who were afraid of damaging their relationship with a judge.
Attorneys who refused to file motions or petitions that would get the court involved and a client’s problem solved out of fear of “pissing off the judge.”
In my friends case there are legal avenues open to her attorney but he refuses to take action because staying on the judge’s good side is more important than his fiduciary duty to his client.
Therein lies one of the major problems with the Family Court System. How can the system hold an ex spouse accountable when lawyers and judges can’t or won’t hold themselves and each other accountable?