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  • Writer's pictureBrian R Boney

Demand in-person family hearings

Updated: May 26, 2023

Video hearings lose much in translation because of lost views of body language

In a recent case, I had an opposing party claim he was blind in order to get a better division of property and to get maintenance (alimony) to which he would not otherwise have been entitled. He would not have been able to make this claim had the divorce hearing in this case been originally scheduled in person.

In early December, the opposing party / husband claimed he made $7,200 per month. In late December, he suddenly issued documents claiming he had gone blind from the stress of the divorce and could no longer work. He claimed he lost his job, and his income was $0.

My client (the wife) and I, of course, were very skeptical. In my 16+ years of practice, I have never had anyone involved in a divorce go blind from the stress of the case. The only way the husband would have a chance of pulling this off is because his late-January hearing was by Webex and not in person, thus allowing him to potentially sit behind a camera and “sell” his blindness via streaming video. However, his attorneys withdrew at this late-January hearing, forcing him to reschedule.

This time (I think because the judge also was skeptical), the judge rescheduled the hearing in person. Now, the husband would be required to physically come to the courthouse and make his case, with no option of hiding behind a video camera.

So, only three months after claiming he had gone blind, the husband shows up in the courtroom without a cane or even reading glasses. He claimed to have found a similar job to what he had supposedly lost back in December.

This is the perfect example of why it’s important to have your hearings in person in front of a judge. Roughly 90% of the information humans project is nonverbal, which is why it’s important that your judge be able to see this in the courtroom so they can assess the credibility of any witnesses.

And, in some cases, make sure the opposing party can’t claim they’ve gone blind.

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