Even if you’ve only vaguely followed sports, you likely know that the momentum behind a game can change with just one play. As seen in countless movies, at any moment, the energy behind a team can go flat. Then, something suddenly clicks and the momentum begins moving in a positive direction. That change lights a spark that triggers a wave that flows toward victory, sometimes changing the entire course of the season for the team.
Unfortunately, momentum goes both ways, and it’s just as applicable to a family court case in New Mexico as it is in sports. Things can go south in court, and you’re left scrambling trying to change that momentum. Many things can cause a family court case to go the other way, particularly a single hearing related to time-sharing or custody of a child. A person failing a drug test, not following court orders or failing to show up for a hearing can also damage his or her momentum in a family court case.
Can I get a new judge?
Many times, when momentum in a case has changed and the judge’s impression of the person is rapidly souring, it can bleed over into time-sharing and custody decisions. At this point, the person on the wrong end of the stick may want to have the assigned judge changed. After all, it’s only natural to assume that a new judge will change the status the quo as he or she won’t have formed an opinion about the person yet. However, generally speaking, you can’t change your judge. You have ten days once the case is assigned to the judge to request a different judge. Once you have passed that point, you can file a motion, but it will likely be heard by the judge you want to have changed, who will probably deny it and will now be even more alienated from you.
Changing your momentum
Instead of trying to change the judge, you should focus on changing the judge’s mind about your case. Like a ball, anything that is going downward can always bounce back up, and just like in sports, the momentum in your family law case can change at any time. You can view your case like a season for a sports team, with each hearing a separate game. For better or worse, your case’s trajectory can suddenly change with just a single hearing.
The work you put in before each hearing or court deadline is just like practice before a game. That work will have a direct impact on the tone of your hearing, and that tone can flow right to the next hearing in a domino effect that impacts your entire case.
The first thing you need to do is follow the judge’s directions to the letter. Follow all orders, appear at each hearing on time and prepared, and follow any recommendations. You need to take your case into your own hands by being proactive. Between your hearings, take the time you need to confirm that all court orders are being followed down to the little details. If you have to take any classes, such as co-parenting or anger management, or you were told to go to counseling, make sure you are doing those things and completing them on time if there’s a deadline.
Go above and beyond what was ordered to demonstrate your commitment to the process. For example, you can take additional classes or counseling sessions for matters that are concerning the judge. For custody cases, these matters could involve poor parenting skills, substance abuse allegations or any circumstance that could affect your child’s welfare or development. Be as involved in your child’s life as possible, and don’t be afraid to display your genuine involvement and concern.
The measures above are essentially parenting batting practice. Keep in mind that the work you do between hearings can mean the difference between striking out or hitting a home run with your judge.