1. Every Family Law Courtroom is different. It is important to know how things work in your particular Courtroom. For example, some counties tend to be more formal than others. Also, each county has its own local rules.
2. Each hearing is set for a particular purpose and you cannot bring up issues that were not previously intended to be addressed at that hearing.
3. Hearings can be evidentiary or non-evidentiary. Evidentiary hearings are where evidence is presented and the facts of a case are discussed. Non-evidentiary hearings (motion calendar) are procedural. You may not have to attend Motion calendar hearings but likely will need to attend all evidentiary hearings.
4. Motion calendar has many cases set at the same time - so if your hearing is set for 8:45 a.m. it is likely many other cases are set at the same time and you will have to wait for a long time to be called.
5. The Judge likely will not have reviewed your file prior to a hearing and will need to be reminded about your case. If the Judge remembers your case, it is likely you have been to Court too often and the Judge could be getting frustrated with your case.
6. Judges like for cases and issues to be worked out and settled - they do not want to make decisions and will make you exhaust every possibility to settle before deciding a matter.
7. Every Judge has a different personality, level experience or ability to separate their feelings from the job. It is critical to know your Judge and to be familiar with reading the cues from that Judge as to how things are going.
8. In many counties Family Law Magistrates and hearing officers are assigned to hear either the whole case or specific issues. A magistrate and/or hearing officer is not a Judge, but instead a fact finder who makes recommendations as to what should happen in the case that the Judges typically follow. Hearing officers only hear child support matters and you MUST use a hearing officer if it is referred. Magistrates hear all issues and you have the ability to object to the Magistrate hearing an issue and instead bring the matter to the Judge.
9. The Court process is slow - it often takes months to get a special set hearing date.
10. What you deem an emergency and what a Judge deems an emergency are likely not the same thing. Not seeing your kids is not an emergency, you child being in immediate danger is. Once an "Emergency Motion" is filed, the Judge will decide if there is an emergency and how quickly to hear the Motion.