General Question

disturbed_broken's avatar

What happens in court?

Asked by disturbed_broken (753 points ) January 15th, 2010 from iPhone

My grandma is taking my mom to court for grandparents rights.
And I’m kind of freaking out I don’t get how this works and my mom doesn’t tell me anything so I am kind of scared.
Does every court case have a jury?
I just don’t know what’s going to happen and I don’t even know what’s going on. It’s making my anxiety worse and I’m not taking sides..how does it work?

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12 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

You are going in a civil court, not a criminal court. there is no jury, only a judge and possibly two attorneys. the judge will listen to both sides arguements for your mom losing you to your grandparents. be prepared to hear anything. i do not want you to be surprised at some of the truths and untruths you are going face in court. you may have to testify as to which side of the fence you want to live, your mom or your grandparents…...so be prepared.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

No, there won’t be a jury. Basically what will happen is your mother will have a lawyer, and your grandmother will have a lawyer. Your grandmother’s lawyer will talk to the judge, and your mother’s lawyer will talk to the judge. The judge will probably ask you some questions about what it’s like living with your mother, and if you want to live with your grandmother. If you end up living with your grandmother it doesn’t mean that your mother won’t be able to see you. Don’t be afraid, and just answer the questions truthfully and as best as you can.

disturbed_broken's avatar

The thing is though I have to watch what I say because my mom and other grandma will get mad at me or tell me not to say certain things I can’t speak about anything infront of them they just judge me and take it the wrong way..

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Then you tell the judge that. He/she may take you back into his office with the two lawyers, so you can say what you need to say without having to say it in front of your mom or grandmother.

Buttonstc's avatar

There is an organization called CASA which acts as a helper for kids in custody cases etc.

The initials stand for Court Appointed Special Advocates. They exist solely to look out for kids rights. Call the court or contact them directly to see if you can benefit from this service.

You should have someone whose sole duty it is to protect YOUR rights and best interests.

The other two lawyers are each an advocate for your Mother or Grandmother and will be warring accordingly and trying their best to pit you against one or the other. That’s their job.

But you deserve to have someone in your corner whose sole job it is to consider what is best for you and can be like a buffer for you so that no one can manipulate you.

Both the adults here have someone advocating for them. Why shouldn’t you have someone also ?

You don’t need your parents permission for this. CASA is
fully aware of the complicated intricancies of situations like this as they deal with this on a daily basis. They are also fully aware of the need for confidentiality so you needn’t fear being straightforward with them. Their job is to look out for you, not to tattle to either side.

disturbed_broken's avatar

I’m not sure I am going to court too.
I don’t know what’s going on I know I have a social service person who is supposed to be my advocate.
I have talked to her once for 20 mins a few months ago at school and she pretends to know me so well now and everything but she doesn’t..i’m losing all of my trust in adults now I don’t know who I can trust and who I can’t it seems like I can’t trust anyone.
Everyone is misunderstanding or judgeing me and I just don’t know…I’m so confused!!!

Darwin's avatar

If you are 14 or older, in our state the judge must by law take into account your preferences. Typically, any child who can make their desires known can also have their feelings considered by the judge, so younger kids also go to court.

In addition, the judge will very rarely have the child or children in question testify or state their preferences out in open court. Almost all of that takes place in the judge’s office, which is called his chambers.

In addition, the judge will almost always appoint an attorney ad litem, that is an attorney paid by the state to represent you, the child. You might also have a CASA volunteer to help you understand what is happening. The CASA person is not necessarily a lawyer, but is someone who is supposed to look out for you and explain to you what is going on.

The judge will be trying to decide which is the best thing for you, not what your mom wants versus what your grandmother wants. Feel free to speak up to the judge and to ask that he keep what you say confidential.

Also, if your grandma is indeed seeking grandparent’s rights, rather than custody, it means that your mom isn’t letting her see you, not that she wants you to live with her.

In any case, none of this is your fault. Just relax and go with the flow, and tell the judge if you hear anyone telling lies.

Buttonstc's avatar

The social worker most likely has a walloping case load. Probably far more than any person could reasonably be expected to handle.

There’s an old saying: “the squeaky wheel is the one who gets the oil”. You have every right to be in court and to have your needs considered since this decision will impact the rest of your life.

You need to “squeak” a bit more, metaphorically speaking. If one adult is not meeting your needs keep letting that be known until you find one that does. If you don’t want to be a bystander for decisions affecting your life, you have to keep speaking up until someone hears you.

I’m not sure at what point an “ad litem” is chosen and appointed, but you certainly have the right to speak with this person well in advance of the court case. Call the court and find out. If one has already been appointed, ask for the name and phone. If not, ask for details of when and whom. You have every right to know this info. After all, it’s your life they’ll be debating about.

Nobody is a mind reader. You have a right to be assertive about this. Call the court, call CASA, call any other org which is involved in protecting kids rights.

Is there a teacher at school that you look up to or feel close to? Or, try the school guidance counselor.

Just keep speaking to whomever will listen until you find someone able to be an advocate for you.

You can’t complain about losing faith in adults for not helping IF you haven’t even ASKED them for help.

I realize that this is a very upsetting situation for you but there are adults willing and able to guide you through this. But you have to ASK. Keep asking until you connect with the right person.

You can’t expect to just rub a magic lamp and have them appear in front of you. You have to find them and ask them.

It could very well be someone who isn’t even aware that you exist who may be the perfect person willing to help you. And they won’t know you exist until you open your mouth to find them.

Don’t be afraid to ask and search. You deserve it.

disturbed_broken's avatar

I asked for help a few months ago they told my mom all my mom did was get mad at me and not get me help intill my grandma phoned the cops a couple weeks later. after mom got mad at the cops and I had
to make a statement and the next day they called social
services.
And then I got myself help seeing a counsler at school and they called social services also mom got pissed off…..
I have asked alot of people for help. I’m just so exaughsted from everything…i don’t think things will ever get better I will try calling I just don’t know what to say.

lilikoi's avatar

I am very sorry that you have to go through this. I cannot imagine how hard it must be. It is not your fault! I think the folks that have replied made some very good points and suggestions. I’m not sure if they apply to Canada, however. If you are living in Canada (from your profile), the laws and system may be different. I think CASA is in the U.S. only, however there may be similar organizations in Canada.

Here is a long shot – you could email them and ask them to refer you to someone who can help you – http://www.jfcy.org/ask.html

Here is an org in Alberta that may have some helpful info – http://plena.org/new/index.asp?id=75

Perhaps more useful – http://www.albertacourts.ab.ca/ProvincialCourt/FamilyJusticeServices/CourtCounsellorServices/tabid/122/Default.aspx

More – http://www.child.alberta.ca/home/programs_services.cfm

You can call the Kids Help Phone at 1–800-668–6868 (posted on the above website)

You might wanna re-post this question and mention you are in Canada, not the U.S. – someone may be able to help more… You may also consider posting to the Craigslist Legal Forum.

I definitely agree w/ @Buttonstc: Do not be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t get it right away, be persistent and do not give up.

filmfann's avatar

No jury. You will have a judge who has your interest as their number one concern.
Don’t freak out.

lynfromnm's avatar

Ask for help from the court if you feel confused or are frightened of the consequences of the upcoming case. You have every right to a complete understanding of the proceedings. You can even call the court before the case is heard and ask to speak to the judge about your situation. Just be truthful.

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