Is it Possible to Request a New Judge?

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

When you are going through a separation and divorce and are unable to come to agreements regarding the important issues of child custody, property division, child support, or alimony, then you will need to file a lawsuit to ask a court to make these decision. Unfortunately, people sometimes feel that they got a “tough” judge, or feel like their judge doesn’t like them and will therefore give them an unfavorable ruling. For people who are unhappy with the judge in their case, it is natural to ask whether it is possible to request a new judge.

While it is possible to request a new uudge, it is neither common nor is it advisable unless very specific circumstances apply as to your judge. As a preliminary matter, you must first understand that you cannot request a new judge simply because you don’t like the judge, or feel like the judge will not give you as favorable a ruling as a different judge. “Shopping” for a new judge is improper and no ethical attorney would engage in it.

North Carolina’s Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 3 governs the disqualification of judges and mandates that a judge “should perform the duties of his office impartially and diligently.” Specifically, a judge is required to recuse herself or himself when a party files a motion to disqualify and proves that the judge’s “impartiality may reasonably be questioned.” Some of the factors that may indicate impartiality include:

  1. The judge’s “personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceedings;”
  2. The judge has served as a lawyer in the “matter in controversy,” practiced law with another attorney while that attorney served as a lawyer in the case, or was a “material witness” to the case;
  3. The judge, the judge’s spouse, or the judge’s children have a financial interest in the case;
  4. The judge is related to a lawyer or party to the lawsuit within the third degree of consanguinity;

Judges take their duties very seriously, and if they are aware of any of the aforementioned conflicts, they should have no problem recusing themselves from a case.

So in summary, is requesting a new judge possible? Yes. But a better question is this: is it a good idea to request a new judge? No, unless the judge is conflicted out of the case in accordance with Canon 3.

New Direction Family Law

New Direction Family Law is a law firm that guides clients through separations, divorces, and all of the issues that come with that turbulent time in their lives. We understand that our clients come to us in an hour of need and take our duties very seriously. Our attorneys are smart, experienced, and passionate about helping our clients exercise their legal rights and move into a more hopeful future. If you need help, contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment or visit our website.

Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law

New Direction Family Law
(919) 719-3470