Right to Access of the Court System

The vast majority of family law matters, whether a dissolution of marriage (divorce) or child related (paternity), cases resolve in a settlement. This means that the parties can avoid going to Court and having a Judge determine their fates. Sometimes the parties cannot amicably resolve their case and must go before a Judge. It is your right to have your case decided by the Judge.

The Judicial system must balance crowded dockets with the citizen’s right to have “access to the courts,” that is to say your right to have your case decided by the Judge. Often Judges will put time pressures on cases to clear up their docket. In one recent case from Miami, the Judge did not provide the Wife with adequate time to present her case. Specifically, telling her counsel that he needed to wrap up her testimony in fifteen (15) minutes. The appellate court found this to be a violation of the Wife’s right to due process and remanded the case to the trial court.

Specifically, the appellate court stated

[w]hile courts have broad authority to control their dockets, trial judges must use this authority to ‘manage their courtrooms so that he people’s business may be conducted fairly, efficiently, and expeditiously.’ Smith v. Smith, 964 So. 2d 217, 218 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007)(quoting McCrae v. State, 908 So. 2d 1095, 1096 (Fla. 1st DCA 2005)). We recognize the difficulty of balancing the desires of parties to ‘have their day in court’ with the necessity of the courts to keep to a schedule and accommodate the similar desire of other parties and that this becomes even more difficult when ‘day in court’ unexpectedly becomes a ‘day and a half.”… In the instant case, despite the trial court’s efforts to push the parties to complete the case within the scheduled timeframe, when 5:15 p.m. came, one party (the Wife) had not been afforded her ‘fair share of the court’s time.’ Id. at 219.” Julia v. Julia, 39 Fla. L. Weekly D1792 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014).

While it is often in the parties’ best interest to control their own destinony and settle a case, it is absolutely your right to present your case to the Judge and have the Court decide your family law matter.