Private Judging For Family Law Cases

How Are Private Judges Different?

Private judging is an alternative to public court. Rather than holding hearings at a public courthouse, you can hire a private judge to help make decisions related to your property division, custody and support issues. Both parties and their attorneys (if applicable) participate in the process. At Viola Law Firm, we have a retired commissioner/judicial officer who is knowledgeable about family law. She will preside over your divorce with fairness and neutrality.

In family law, parties may decide to use a private judge rather than one assigned through a public court. This allows participants to find a private judge whose qualifications best fit their particular case. Similar to mediation, the court cannot order parties to participate in private judging.

The Advantages Of Private Judging

There are many benefits to hiring a private judge to hear your divorce, property, custody and support issues, including:

  • Personal information remains private, as meetings and hearings are held outside the public court system. Personal details like financial information and custody details can remain confidential.
  • Resolution is faster as the private judging process is more efficient than traditional public divorce court proceedings because you have direct access to your private judge. There is no backlog of cases with a private judge and he or she controls the schedule, unlike public court.
  • You retain your right to appeal. While the private judge’s ruling is legally binding, you do not lose your right to file an appeal with the Court of Appeal.
  • You choose a qualified and impartial private judge who has deep knowledge in the areas of family law most relevant to your situation. In public court, you may be assigned a judge with limited or no family law experience.
  • There is less stress as private judging is held in private and you are assured that an experienced neutral party is deciding your case. Private judging can help you resolve issues that arise during or after a divorce.

How To Hire A Private Judge

  1. Start with a phone call. We’ll start with some background information about your marriage, family and the issues. We’ll also discuss the private judge’s experience specific to those issues.
  2. Both parties agree to the private judging process. It is important that both parties agree on hiring a private judge as the decisions reached are legally binding.
  3. Arrange the details of your case, including time frames, documentation sharing and other important logistics.
  4. Hold hearings so both parties or their attorneys can present evidence and other relevant information.
  5. A decision is made. After hearing both sides, your private judge will decide your case in a timely manner. In public court, there can be delays in getting on a judge’s calendar. With a private judge, scheduling is more flexible and responsive.

Choosing Viola Law Firm For Your Mediation Or Private Judging Needs

Viola Law has a reputation for excellence in family law. The Honorable Kathleen McKenna, retired commissioner, has more than 24 years of experience in family law in California. She was hired as commissioner of the Superior Court in San Mateo County in 2001. She has over a decade of experience presiding over thousands of disputes related to custody, support and property division. Now in private practice, Commissioner McKenna is a divorce mediator as well as a private judge. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center in San Mateo.

What Is A Parent Coordinator?

A parent coordinator helps participants improve their co-parenting skills. When problems involve children, especially in high-conflict custody disputes, a coordinator can be selected by the parties or appointed by the court.

A major advantage of using a parent coordinator is that he or she has more leeway than a court-appointed judge; parent coordinators are more widely available to help parents resolve issues as they arise.

Parent coordinators generally have the authority to make orders regarding disputed issues. If neither party objects, then the order is signed by the court. If one party objects, then the issue is brought before a judge in a hearing.

Is Private Judging Right For You?

At Viola Family Law Firm, we believe each client has unique needs and deserves legal support. To best determine if private mediation or private judging is the right way for you to resolve your dispute, please call us at 650-343-6400 or send us an email.

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