Former Law Clerk & Divorce Lawyers In Brooklyn – How Judges Look At Divorce

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My clients very often express surprise and dismay when I tell them how closely the court will examine every aspect of their lives during a divorce.  Many people seem to expect that the judge will look only at what they intended to share with their spouse, and that everything else will remain separate and private.  But in order to make an informed decision about the various issues in divorce – Where will the children live? Who gets to remain in the house? What does the law say is the correct amount of financial support? etc. – the judge needs to get to know everything about you.  You wouldn’t want the judge to make a decision without getting all of the facts!  But the process of gathering those facts can be invasive and uncomfortable.

From my former experience working for a matrimonial Supreme Court Judge in Brooklyn and now serving as one of  divorce lawyers in Brooklyn on many contested and complex cases, I always ask clients the following: Imagine your life is a collection of objects on a table: your career is one object, your house is another, your children, your golf score, your cholesterol… everything.  You probably imagine these objects in varying sizes based on their level of importance to you.  You may even have placed them on this imaginary table into groups, near to or far from other things based on their similarity in your mind.

Now imagine the judge presiding over your divorce has asked to examine this table of objects. You may expect, or at least hope, that the judge will focus on what you focus on – the things that shine, and the things that matter to you.   More often than not, however, I would need to tell other divorce lawyers in Brooklyn while I was a law clerk that the judge will zero in on the things their client most wished to keep private – DUI, that text message that a client sent that was full of expletives, the exaggerations on your tax returns…  It would be a nearly impossible task to say that you should be proud of all of the objects on your table – we all have the junk we have collected over the years that we wish we could throw out – but you must at least look at each item before you rush to the courtroom.  It is crucial that you prepare yourself for the moment the judge asks to see them.

Prior to working closely with clients, I only mostly worked with other divorce lawyers in Brooklyn. Now that I’m working with clients directly, I’m always aware of what the court is looking for and communicate the reality of the court’s perspective.

Catherine McKinney, Esq.