Brian Burke: About Your Divorce (Column 160) — Old Divorce Lawyer’s Notes to New Household Law Judge

Who is the fictional judge I’m composing to? Exactly what would offer the very best legal training and experience?

The very first “About Your Divorce” column was released by Noozhawk on Valentine’s Day 2011. I do not keep in mind if the timing was knowingly paradoxical.

Regardless, my goal was to share exactly what I’ve learned more about divorce– specifically in South Santa Barbara County– after 35 years of practice as a divorce lawyer.

In the beginning, I did this by utilizing different imaginary scenarios and characters as the topics and composed from the viewpoints of a friend/observer, a lawyer, and an arbitrator.

For the last 2 years, I’ve been discussing 53 Oblique Strategies, will ultimately be released as a set of cards.

The idea is to promote or influence the modifications in old beliefs and values essential to fix deadlocks.

The deadlocks can be comprehended as the last finest possibility to recognize and reassess if standard concepts used to browse life in the past will be used to browse the future. Check out this website for further details

The deck was finished with the last column, but I still have a lot of details and possible insights I ‘d like to show a judge brand-new to the household court– a judge who hasn’t currently concern a great deal of his/her own conclusions.

I’ll say it when: I know of no judge, brand-new or reputable, who has an interest in exactly what I need to say about divorce. The judge to whom I compose is a fantasy of my creativity. My audience is still you, the readers of this column.

Santa Barbara’s revered composting instructor, Shelly Lowenkopf, as soon as taught me that you can “interact with your reading Audience by dealing with a Third Party.”.

This strategy secures the desired audience from sensation talked at. Rather, the audience overhears exactly what’s stated to a 3rd party. These notes will be composed of that viewpoint.

The Judge, Gender, and Pronouns

I’ll develop the judge by beginning with gender. It does not matter.

For several years, there were no ladies on our Superior Court; that’s altered. Currently, 3 of the 4 judges who have a household law calendar are ladies, which truth is not a topic of discussion amongst local divorce attorneys.

For when I concur with my coworkers in the belief that great or bad evaluating is a gender-neutral activity. As I compose these I’ll most likely change gender pronouns from one note to the next.

How the System is Rigged Against “Success”

One factor I am going to fill my imaginary household court judge with training, experience (expert and personal), and personal qualities of personality and character are that the design of our judicial system works versus his success as a household court judge.

Another way to say the exact same thing is that a judge exceptional in the trial of severe criminal cases, or exceptional in the trial of complicated civil cases, might be a catastrophe if appointed to the household court.

A lot can be stated in assistance of those 2 sentences, but it comes down to this:

The Operating System for Anglo-American trials and hearings is a body of law called the Rules of Evidence or the Evidence Code, which has developed in English-speaking nations over numerous century.

These guidelines presuppose the “trier of truth” (judge or jury) will make a yes/no (guilty/not guilty or liable/not responsible) binary choice and details exist in a manner that assists in that sort of option.

Asked to choose, “What is finest?” or the more bothersome, “What is reasonable?” the court hears 2 sides of the case although there’s excellent possibility that neither is “finest” and neither is “reasonable.”.

An excellent trial judge can run a civil or criminal calendar or trial by the book.

The concepts needed to deal with household law cases in some cases come from at the margins of the judge’s expert experience, from his personal experience of life and from those values that produce exactly what we frequently call character.

Legal Training and Experience

In California, Family Law is among a couple of locations where there has been a total remodeling of essential concepts.

Marital property law was a significant issue for the creators of the state. Since land had been held pursuant to Spanish-Mexican guidelines of neighborhood property, the state’s starting days believed it was vital to protect that system in the state’s constitution when it was prepared in 1850.

That benefited connection of title, but how did Spanish-Mexican neighborhood property guidelines handle divorce? The number of divorces had there remained in Mexico or Spain by 1850?


One task for California courts after 1850 was to determine ways to graft divorce onto a property system from cultures where there was no such thing: neighborhood property + divorce = TBD.

After 1850, the California courts defined the marital relationship as an agreement. Its terms were the common marital pledges (shared assistance, regard, and fidelity).

A divorce might happen when one celebration declared that the other had broken a vow. The trial was a breach of agreement action chosen by a jury if either side asked for one.

Damages for the breach might be granted as an unequal department of neighborhood property and/or an award of spousal support.

In 1970, the neighborhood property + divorce task pertained to an abrupt stop when the legislature enacted no-fault divorce with the equal department of neighborhood property. Ours was the very first “no fault” state in the Union.

In the late 1970s, Stephen Adams began to gather and arrange all the brand-new statutes and all the brand-new appellate choices that translated and filled out the spaces in the brand-new system.

Acquisition of the corpus juris.

Adams developed loose-leaf note pads, which constructed on the preliminary overview. Initially, there was one huge binder than 2. Today the printed variation of California Family Law Practice needs 5 binders.

The Adams overview has been broadened but basically the same. His text is some corpus juris of California Family Law, which takes much less time to master than the 14 topics consisted of in the California Bar Exam (which Community Property is one).

That’s exactly what the judge must understand about the substantive household law. It takes an effort to learn, but it’s efficient and, for the most part, simple.

A practicing lawyer using the overview by Adams can learn household law often quicker than by studying the product from any law school class, so there is a huge bang of understanding from every hour of the research study, which is pleasing and rewarding.

Research Experience

There are several Family Law problems that are not entirely solved and the judge should be rather innovative in creating a hybrid guideline for a case. What counts is the training and monitored research the judge got after law school.

Therefore, leading law school finishes normally clerk for a judge, though any type of judicial research obligation is outstanding training for career-long proficiency. Some attorneys flourish on pure research, but most tire of doing it for another person after a year or more.

Criminal Law Experience

Our system works best with the personality of criminal cases. Attorneys practicing criminal law (either as district attorneys or defense lawyer) and judges serving in a criminal court learn how it works from direct experience.

This is a vital experience for a household law judge who can value that exactly what goes on in his household court is not like exactly what occurs in a criminal courtroom.

He needs to figure out for himself what implicit presumptions underlie criminal practice and have no place in household court

One example is that the prosecution and the accused constantly have a negative relationship. This is not constantly (or perhaps typically) real of a couple who are rearranging a household where they share a heavy financial investment.

Another example is that a criminal trial will usually produce a winner and a loser.

It’s different and uncommon when one side “wins” a department by 2 or “wins” a custody plan or parenting strategy. The judge needs to find out the following impact on the management of the household court of law without the presumptions he concerns.

Drug court.

The court’s Operating System works versus the success of the household court judge, therefore, do the cases on which he will invest his time. A little minority will use most of his resources, and he’ll need to handle a little subset of couples that offer divorce a bad name.

I call them poisonous divorces; click on this link for a complimentary Inventory that looks for to identify whether a case is Toxic.

There might be absolutely nothing a well-intentioned judge can do with these cases. Most will include addiction, which owns the celebrations and impacts the others in the household.

Attorneys get no training on how addiction might impact the work they aim to do; if there were such training there isn’t really agreement about its material.

Suitable for a household court judge would be some experience with judicial efforts to handle addiction– and a stint in drug court would teach him exactly what the court can and can refrain from doing successfully to handle addiction.

Click on this link for a complimentary one-hour program on the recognition of alcoholic divorces; it’s not for the faint of heart. The implicit message to attorneys is to prevent them.

Law school?

Suggested, but not vital. Seriously. There are a couple of (but few) graduates of Harvard Law School who practice household law as well as less, if any, who command household courts.

Graduation from a “selective or top-tier law school” is not an especially beneficial certification.

It is possible to avoid law school and take the state Bar Exam by clerking with a lawyer or judge. It is likewise possible to go to law school online.

I know one lawyer who got approved for the Bar Exam by clerking and another who finished from an online law school. They are both excellent attorneys. They are both naturals, and they would have stood out at any school they participated in.