In divorce or family law matters, pre-trial conferences, settlement conferences and other preliminary court dates often take place. These court appearances can sometimes take place in open court. In other instances, they can take place in chambers with only the attorneys present.
In many of these court appearances, the attorneys in the case tell the judge their client’s versions of the facts of the case. They also might tell the court what it is their client wants.
The hope on the part of the attorneys and the parties is often to have the judge weigh in terms of what they think. Many then hope that this can lead to a settlement of some kind.
Some parties even take this a step further. They worry when the judge gives some preliminary thoughts or opinions that the judge has already made up their mind. Many feel as if they might not have much of a choice but to settle after hearing the judge’s input.
While parties certainly want to hear the preliminary thoughts of the judge carefully in terms of weighing their options, the truth is that a family court judge is not to definitively make up their mind until they have heard the evidence. While a judge might hear arguments and take in some information at these court appearances, evidence is formally admitted at a trial or evidentiary hearing.
At a trial or evidentiary hearing, witnesses can testify. Evidence can also be admitted, like documentary, photographic, video or other electronic evidence. Expert witnesses can also give opinion testimony and reports.
At the conclusion of the evidence, this is when a judge is only supposed to make up their mind and enter a judgment. Thus, while it feels at a preliminary court appearance that a judge has already made up their mind, parties do have a due process right to a hearing in the family court. Sometimes, what a judge says in a court appearance is not always what they do after they have heard all the evidence.
If you are going through a divorce or family law matter, Stange Law Firm, P.C. can help. You can contact us at 855-805-0595 or by calling our Tulsa, Oklahoma Divorce Lawyers today.