People often assume that their family law case will end up in a courtroom in front of a judge or jury, but that's not always true. Alternative dispute resolution (also commonly called appropriate dispute resolution or ADR) can allow parties to settle their case outside of the courtroom.
Using ADR to resolve your legal dispute has a multitude of benefits ranging from potentially lower costs to more efficient compromises between parties. Private judging is one of the more popular methods of ADR, and understanding whether or not private judging is right for you can help you find move forward with confidence.
What Is Private Judging?
In private judging, two parties engaged in a legal dispute hire someone who's an authority in the legal area of the dispute (often a former judge or a Bar-certified attorney). The parties then present their cases to the judge, who passes down a final verdict. The ruling in a private judging case is legally binding and holds just as much weight as the ruling a formal judge gives in a courtroom.
Typically, a private judge can only be appointed to a case with permission from the court that would have overseen the case had it not gone to ADR. Judges can send cases to ADR, such as private judging, for a variety of reasons.
What Are the Advantages of Private Judging?
Choosing to resolve your case via private judging can have a variety of benefits:
- You keep your case out of the public eye. In most states, divorce cases are a manner of public record—the full details of your case can be accessed by anyone, as long as they're willing to dig through a case file. For individuals who act as public figures, or worry that details in their divorce case may be used against them, having the ability to resolve divorce privately can be incredibly beneficial. Additionally, private judging can enable parents to protect the details of their custody arrangement from public record.
- Your case gets resolved faster. When you deal with a public court, you also have to worry about setting up court dates, ensuring that both parties can attend (if necessary), and rescheduling dates if something goes wrong. In lengthy legal disputes like divorce, arranging consistent court hearings for a variety of issues can be stressful and draining. You'll have easier, more consistent access to a private judge, so your case will get resolved faster via private judging.
- You gain an effective solution to mediation, pioneered by a legal professional. As we mentioned earlier, private judges are legal professionals highly experienced in their area of litigation. Mediation, another popular method of ADR, isn't as flexible as private judging. If you mediate your case, you still need to take the case to public court to get it finalized. With private judging, you can resolve your case with the private judge instead of taking it back to a public court judge.
In essence, private judging allows parties to gain many benefits of mediation while simultaneously resolving their case more efficiently. Taking the case out of the public court can make resolving it less stressful and encourage more mutually beneficial compromises between the parties, but you don't have to worry about the lack of efficiency that often comes with mediation. Additionally, if you disagree with the outcome of your private judging, you can appeal it in a public court.
At the Gill Law Group, PC, we can set up private judging for our clients. Whether you're involved in a divorce or another family law-related manner, private judging can help you reach an effective resolution for your case.
To learn more and arrange a consultation with our team, contact us online or by phone at (949) 681-9952.