There are six new Jefferson County Family Court Judges and a new Family Court Judge for the Family Court of Shelby, Spencer and Anderson Counties. Unlike the four more seasoned Family Court Judges in Jefferson County, the Family Court Judge in Bullitt County, and the Family Court Judge for Oldham, Trimble and Henry Counties, the new Family Court Judges have yet to establish much of a discernible track record from which someone can pick up on their core beliefs and judicial tendencies. Moreover, while all of the Family Court Judges are bound by statutory law and applicable case law, Family Court Judges have much judicial discretion and an appeals court (i.e., the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the Kentucky Supreme Court), is not going to overturn rulings of a Family Court so long as there is some rationale basis and support for how a Family Court Judge ruled. So, for instance, Family Court Judges, by law, are supposed to make decisions that are “in the best interests of the child.” If a particular Family Court Judge decides that it is in the best interests of the child to live primarily with the child’s mom, the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the Kentucky Supreme Court are not likely going to second guess the Family Court Judge and decide that it is in the child’s best interest that the child lives with the dad. However, an experienced family law attorney will generally know what a Family Court Judge is looking for in making his or her decisions, and while it is a little bit harder to anticipate what may or may not be important to any one of the new Family Court Judges, an experienced family court attorney will know what the applicable statutes and case law say and the attorney may have even practiced cases with or against some or all of the new Family Court Judges, so may very well know what is important to any particular Judge and how the Judge thinks and normally rules. And having practiced cases before all of the new Family Court Judges (as well as the more seasoned Family Court Judges), I can honestly say that for the most part, most all of them have exercised considerable judicial restraint, have been fair, and have not made hasty or unwise decisions.
Now, all of the new Family Court Judges are female, and while conventional wisdom may lead some to believe that this is bad news for fathers/husbands, conventional wisdom is not always right. The truth is only time will tell, but, for instance, the Bullitt Family Court Judge, the Honorable Elise Givhan Spainhour, is female, but both by her reputation and in my personal experience, she treats men with absolute fairness and has little tolerance for a woman who, for no justifiable reason, tries to keep a dad away from his child or tries to make all of the major decisions for the child without any consideration as to how the child’s father feels about the situation. In contrast, at least one male Family Court Judge is thought to be very liberal in awarding maintenance (formerly known as alimony) to women.
Knowing all of this, an experienced family law attorney should be able to help you achieve the best possible results given your unique set of facts and circumstances.