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Can I write a letter to the judge in my divorce/custody hearing ?

Rumford, ME |

I just don't feel that I had the chance to fully express all the concerns I have in regard to my situation with my daughter.

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

You could always try, but it has been my experience that most judges will not read letters sent privately by one of the parties. You may want to consider meeting with a local attorney to discuss the facts of your case and possible courses of action. Good luck.

Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Massachusetts. Responses are based solely on Massachusetts law unless stated otherwise.

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Posted

If I understand your question correctly, the answer is "no." To the extent you wish to make the judge aware of new evidence or arguments, the judge can only consider information that he or she receives during a judicial hearing. If the judge has already ruled on your case, then you or your attorney must file a motion for reconsideration or for a new trial in order bring new evidence to the judge's attention. I must tell you, however, such efforts are rarely successful. It would be one thing if you discovered the information you want to present to the judge for the first time after the hearing, and you could not, even with due diligence, have discovered that information before the hearing. Then the judge might be willing to hear you. However, if you declined to tell the judge information you already knew or neglected to make an argument you could have made at the hearing, then the judge will very probably deny a motion for reconsideration or for new trial.

Another consideration is whether you were represented by an attorney at the hearing. Judges are very uncomfortable with communications from persons who, to his or her knowledge, are represented by counsel. Judges are somewhat more forgiving of persons who represented themselves at the hearing, because they obviously do not know as much as attorneys do about court procedures.

In any event, you should never try to communicate with a judge directly. You must always contact the judge through the clerk of the court where the case was heard. You must also send your opponent's attorney, or the opponent herself if she represented herself, a copy of what you send to the clerk's office. Ultimately, there is no possibility of your contacting the judge without the other side knowing about it; the clerk will send them a copy of your letter even if you do not.

I imagine this sounds somewhat severe. I do sympathize with you. It is extremely common for people to regret what they did not say at a hearing, or to wonder whether the result would have been different "if only" they had brought up certain information. In my experience, those regrets are generally unnecessary if you or your attorney were fully prepared for the hearing. Judges are human, and make mistakes. It is an imperfect system, and sometimes justice is not done.

If you do not have an attorney, I strongly recommend that you hire one; and if you already have an attorney, I strongly recommend that you discuss your concerns with him or her. Perhaps there is something unique about the facts of your case that would lead to a result different from what I have described. A good attorney is in the best position to help you. Acting on your own is likely to be disappointing.

I wish you the best of luck.

By answering this question, I have NOT formed an attorney-client relationship with you or with anyone else. My answer to your question is only a general one, and neither you nor anyone else can rely upon it as legal advice that would be appropriate for your particular situation.

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