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Court Personnel Who Play a Role in Your Divorce Case

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Question: Court Personnel Who Play a Role in Your Divorce Case
Answer: Court Clerk:

Every court has an office to assist the public with paperwork and scheduling issues involved in the process of divorce. This office is referred to as the clerk's office. The people in this office are dedicated to keeping the court running smoothly, helping you whenever they can, and maintaining all court records.

The clerk is an officer of the court whose main function is to maintain the records of the court. Any correspondence between divorce attorneys will go through the court clerk’s office first. It is then filed and sent to the judge’s desk for consideration. The court clerk is also available to assist anyone who is representing themselves with questions about paperwork and such.

A Court Clerk Can:
  • Help you figure out what court documents need to be filed, how to file them and what fees or costs may apply.

  • Give you information about where things are in the court.

  • Give you information about where resources are if you need them.

  • Help you with basic questions about legal procedure.

  • Answer general questions about how to fill out forms.
A Court Clerk Cannot:
  • Give you legal divorce advice.

  • Help you decide what to say or write on court forms.

  • Fill out forms for you unless you have a disability.

  • Refer you to specific divorce lawyers.
The Family Court Judge:

The family court judge is like the umpire in a baseball game. He/she is not on either side. The judge considers preliminary matters in a case, which might include temporary orders for child custody, spousal support or motions, and discovery issues.

While the judge may tell you the rules of court, he or she is not required to do so. You should not depend on the judge to guide you through the divorce process. Instead, you should seek answers to your questions before coming to court. You will be able to find the information you need through legal research. If you have a question that involves timing or procedure, the clerk's office should be able to help you.

A judge cannot give you advice about how to present your case. The judge cannot talk to you without the other party present in the courtroom, except in limited situations. The judge cannot talk to you about your case outside the courtroom. Any such one on one communications with the judge by you or your attorney is called ex parte communication and is strictly forbidden.

Divorce Attorney:

An attorney is someone who has passed an examination and is licensed to represent the legal interests of others. Some attorneys represent clients in court. Some attorneys never go to court. If you find yourself, involved in an adversarial divorce it is important that you hire an attorney who has a solid background when it comes to courtroom experience. If your divorce is uncontested then an attorney with superior negotiating skills is needed.

Court Stenographer:

The court stenographer/reporter or court reporter is responsible for making a word-for-word written record of everything said in the courtroom during a hearing or trial. One purpose of recording the proceedings is to create a record in the event there is an appeal of the case. Should there be an appeal the stenographer will provide you or your attorney with a record of everything that was said during your divorce hearing.

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