Divorce mediation trend: Private judges for Texas couples?

When Texas couples choose to divorce, many immediately rely on their team of support to help them find the best, least painful ways of facilitating the process. According to one recent report, Texas couples may be among those with options that are more private and more expedient, including the option of having their own private judge. This latest trend in divorce mediation may provide a more balanced, collaborative approach to many divorce cases.

According to a recent report, private judges are often retired attorneys or neutral attorneys. The practice of hiring private judges has been around in Texas over the past decade and has been an increasing trend. Hiring a private judge is a process that goes through the attorney handling the divorce case. Private judges are appointed by the same court that appoints judges who hear cases in a courthouse, and similarly, the decisions that they make can be appealed. Where private judges differ from professional mediators, is that the decisions of mediators cannot be appealed.

Every state is different with regard to exactly what a private judge can judge. In most states, divorce and other civil cases are the standard. The benefits to using a private judge include a more speedy divorce process, the ability to choose who your judge will be (agreed upon by both spouses), and private judges are not paid by the taxpayers. Just as every divorce case is different, every private judge sets his or her own individual fees. These fees can range from a few hundred dollars to several hundred dollars per hour, depending upon the complexity of the divorce case.

In divorce cases where violence or contention rules the process, a private judge may not be the most suitable option. Texas couples definitely have options about how they will proceed through the divorce process. One of the best ways to start may be by talking through these options with each other, any applicable representation and divorce mediation professionals.

Source: US News and World Report, “Should You Hire Your Own Private Judge?” Geoff Williams, July 18, 2013