The other benefit to appearing in person is that the judge gets the idea that the person in court is taking the process seriously. A concern by appearing by telephone or by video is that it’s not going to look particularly good potentially with the judge because the judge might have his or her preconceived notions about whether a person should be there in court. Now, the courts may allow you to appear by telephone or by video in court, but at the same time, they might get the idea that the person is not taking it as seriously as someone else who took the time to appear in court in person.
If someone has to appear by phone or video and can’t come to court in person, then their attorney can make the case as to why it’s appropriate under the circumstances. To appear by phone generally one will file a motion with the court or the attorney will file a motion with the court requesting permission to appear by phone or video for their client. If approved, at the end of the day, an order is handed to them allowing one to appear by phone or video. If someone requests permission to appear by phone or video and not represented by an attorney, the court will have the phone number and they will call the person directly sometimes. Sometimes they will actually expect them to call in. It’s important to have the courts number regardless.
If witnesses are involved with a divorce case, then sometimes it’s possible for the witnesses to appear by phone. This is often a negative route though because the other attorney will be able to object on the basis that the witness is not appearing in person. The attorney may argue that they can’t properly cross examine the witness if they’re not there in person. Another argument the other person’s attorney can have if the witness is not appearing in person is that they can’t properly assess the credibility of the witness unless they’re there observing their mannerisms and so forth. If one wants to choose to not appear in person, then they have to file a timely motion prior to that happening. Overall, if one is allowed to go through the divorce process without appearing in person, it is rarely done by video, most of the time it will be by phone.