Shelander Law Offices

Why you may want to hire a private judge to finalize your divorce

You may think that only movie stars, sports icons and business moguls hire private judges for their divorces and other civil legal matters. They do, of course. However, private judges are becoming more common -- not just in New York and California, but more recently in Texas and other states.

People hire private judges to handle their divorces for various reasons. Often, it's a matter of saving time. Private judges can help couples settle their divorce much faster than if they had to wait to get on the schedule in the county court. Recently, private judges have helped power couples Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck and Anna Faris and Chris Pratt avoid the backlogged Los Angeles courts and settle their divorces privately.

Private judges also provide a level of privacy that you can't be assured of if your case is heard in court. Even in a closed courtroom or deposition hearing, information can leak out. If you're concerned about colleagues, competitors or people in your community finding out personal information about you and your divorce, a private judge can be a good option.

Following are a few other things you should know if you're considering spending the money on a private judge:

  • Private judges are appointed by the court. They're generally retired from the bench. However, they have the same authority as sitting judges. As with any judge, their job is to follow the law. You can't "buy" a judge to get a decision in your favor.
  • They're actually hired by an attorney. Often, a divorcing couple that agrees to use a private judge will split the cost. A private judge in a divorce case must be approved by both spouses as well as by the court.
  • Fees vary, but they're often in the hundreds of dollars an hour. However, if your divorce agreements are fairly straightforward and you can't get on the court schedule for months, it may be worth it.

Private judges aren't the best choice for every divorce case. Contentious divorces where the parties are far apart on a number of issues are often best handled in court. However, if you and your spouse believe it's worthwhile to pay for a private judge, talk with your Texas family law attorney before you look at your options for private judges in your area.

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245 North 4th Street
Beaumont, Texas 77701

Phone: 409-234-1479
Fax: 1-409-833-3935
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