Can You Request a Different Judge in Your Family Law Case?

A person holding a gavel.

Are you thinking of changing the judge assigned to your family law case? People who are concerned about the outcome of a case may want a new judge for a variety of reasons, ranging from perceived bias to previous experience with the judge in question. Whatever the cause of concern is, this request is not unprecedented.

In fact, there are several different scenarios in which a request for a new judge might take place:

  1. Conflict of interest;
  2. Substitution as a matter of right;
  3. Substitution for cause; and
  4. Substitution in certain contempt proceedings.

No matter the reason, you’ll want a legal partner on your side who can handle the situation as professionally as possible.

How to Request a New Judge in Your Illinois Family Law Case

In Illinois, people do generally have the right to request a new judge in their family law case. Your lawyer may request a different judge if the person is a party to or has an interest in the outcome of the case. For instance, if the person has presided over a previous case of yours, then that is a clear example of when this would be possible.

A substitution as a matter of right can generally be done once by either party. It is usually filed as a motion and doesn’t require a hearing. You don’t have to demonstrate a conflict of interest or any particular cause. Each party simply gets one substitution automatically, if desired, providing they make the request in a timely manner.

Requesting a Substitution with Cause

Requesting a substitution with cause can be a bit more complicated, as you’re required to submit a reason to support your request. In this case, you generally need to file a verified petition supported by an affidavit that sets forth the reason that the judge should be substituted. This process may also require making the request in a hearing before a different judge.

Because there is more work involved, be sure you have a good reason for making the request before moving forward.

Substitution in a Contempt Proceeding

Sometimes a request arises from a perceived attack on the character or conduct of the judge outside of open court. In this case, the defendant may request a different judge to rule on whether they should be held in contempt.

Talk to an Experienced Attorney About Your Legal Concern

Since every case is unique, the best approach if you are concerned about your judge is to talk to an experienced family law attorney before taking any action. Not only do they know the ins and outs of the legal system, but they may be familiar with the judge in question. In addition, they have a more neutral eye and can let you know if your concerns have merit, or if they are more likely a reflection of a different issue in your case.

Divorce, in particular, can be a highly stressful and emotionally trying process. A legal expert will be able to let you know whether you’re on the right track. If changing judges is the best move for you, your attorney will walk you through the process and make sure it is handled in an expedient manner. And if it’s not in your best interest to do so, they will let you know and possibly save you money and time in the long run.

Law Office of David A. King Will Ensure Your Petition is Filed Properly

Any time you file a motion or petition for a substitution of judge, it is vital that you give reasonable notice to the other parties in your case. Some of the details may vary from court to court – another reason it is so important to have qualified legal representation on your side. No matter who the judge is, you will want a partner who can represent your best interests from start to finish.

At the Law Office of David A. King, P.C., our team ensures that all legal petitions are filed in a prompt and proper manner. Contact us to schedule a free consultation about your family law case today.


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