Do Divorce Courts Care about You? Should They?
I will not keep you in suspense: the divorce courts do not care about you in the way you want, expect (even need) because:
1) we live in an imperfect world run by imperfect people;
2) judges and commissioners don’t have the time, resources, or inclination to care about you.
3) courts and the legal system are neither designed nor created to “care” about you.
But before we go any further on this subject, let us first define the meaning of “care” in the context of this discussion. When you ask, “Does the court, my commissioner, my judge, care about me?” You are asking, in essence, do these people feel concern for me, for my children, for our family’s situation? Do they take an interest? Do they pay attention to the facts and issues in the case? Do they wish to protect from harm? Yes and no.
In the “yes” column: domestic relations commissioners and judges are not without feelings. The great majority of them are decent people. They all suffer many of the same afflictions you and your family members do. They can both sympathize and empathize. And many (though clearly not all) commissioners and judges care about their job and about doing it professionally.
In the “no” column: domestic relations commissioners and judges are, like us all, imperfect. They are also overburdened in their workloads. They get jaded. Often they are, given the personality type that gravitates to the legal profession, egotists and/or egoists. So they often reach a point where their sensitivities are dulled and weakened. So in their capacities as your fellow human beings, do commissioners and judges care about you? At best, not as much as you would like (people are flawed, and even reasonable minds can differ). At worst, not enough to do administer justice and equity perfectly.
But even if all commissioners and judges cared deeply about their job duties and about the litigants who appear before them, the legal system imposes—thank goodness—checks on that caring to ensure that personal feelings, passions, and biases do not cloud one’s judgment or cause one to treat people unfairly.
Judges and commissioners are required to exercise objectivity in the performance of their duties. Their job is not to “help” you in any way they can, it is to administer the law impartially and as it is given to them by the legislature and to follow the rules of court that govern them.
Many times commissioners and judges must do what they personally would choose not to do, were they given absolute discretion to decide a matter as they would prefer. Ask any judge or commissioner if there are laws and rules that they don’t like, but yet must follow. All of them—all of them, without exception—will answer that question in the affirmative. So in this sense, many times a court does not “care” because it is prohibited from “caring” in the way you (or even the judge or commissioner himself) would like.
Divorce and family law does not function the way you think it does. Too often the courts do not function as they should. Even when the courts function as designed it may still result in you getting the short end of the stick. Understand these points before you go into your divorce action believing that whatever you consider fair is reflected in the law and in the rules of court and in the worldview of your commissioner and/or judge.