A private judge is a neutral party who a divorcing couple hires to perform the same functions normally performed by a county judge in a divorce proceeding. Private judges are becoming an increasingly popular option for divorcing couples in California.
Should you consider hiring a private judge for your divorce?
How private judges work
Decisions made by a private judge are legally binding. The same laws, including the California Family Code, California Evidence Code and California Code of Civil Procedure apply to divorce proceedings litigated before a private judge.
Benefits of a private judge
Divorce proceedings can sometimes take months to fully resolve in the public court system. A private judge can usually schedule a divorce hearing for the first date that works for both you and your spouse. Private judges also offer more privacy for divorcing couples. The public court system is open to the public and there are usually many other people in the courtroom while your case is being handled. Using a private judge can save you from having to discuss awkward or embarrassing information about your family in front of strangers. Additionally, many private judges offer virtual hearings so that couples have the option of handling their divorce from the comfort of home.
While there are many highly skilled and experienced family law judges in the public court system, most private judges have retired from the courtroom with decades of experience. If you have a complicated case or simply prefer the speed and privacy offered by a private judge, this may be a good option for settling your divorce.