Entertainment Love and Romance The Role of the Judge in Child Custody Proceedings What to Expect When Your Child Custody Case Goes to Court Share PINTEREST Email Print Alina555/Getty Images Love and Romance Divorce Relationships Sexuality Teens LGBTQ Friendship By Debrina Washington Family law attorney and writer University of Pittsburgh School of Law Skidmore College Debrina L. Washington is a New York-based family law attorney and writer, who runs her own virtual practice to assist single parents with legal issues. our editorial process Debrina Washington Updated May 23, 2019 A judge plays a very important role in deciding child custody cases. Often parents may be intimidated by judges in family court proceedings, fearing their family's fate lies in the hands of one person. To alleviate this fear, it helps to focus on the role of the judge. He or she is there to: Hear all sides of the storySpeak to the children involvedOrder additional evaluations, such as educational reports to determine how the child is performing in schoolInterview neutral third parties (i.e. psychologists, social workers, doctors)Appoint a law guardian, if the judge deems it necessary. A law guardian is considered to be the child's attorney. A law guardian's main focus is to act in the best interest of the child.Reach a decision based on the best interest of the child A judge in family court proceedings often has a more difficult job than a judge in other civil court proceedings, because a family court judge is making decisions that will have a permanent effect on a child. Additionally, in family court proceedings, there is no jury. The judge makes a determination about what is true and not true based on a number of factors, including: Any history of domestic violenceThe child's wishes if the child is old enough for the court to consider his/her opinionThe parent's wishesWhether one parent is the primary caretakerThe mental and physical stability of all parties involved The judge does not have an obligation to treat all parties fairly. Instead, the judge only acts in the best interest of the child. However, the judge will consider the wants and needs of all parties involved. In addition, parents are free to speak to an attorney or court advocate in their state for more information about a judge's role in child custody proceedings.