Diana Richmond discusses private judging for the Northern California Chapter of the AAML

October 2016

Private Judging and Arbitration in family law cases are alternatives to the Superior Court process. For some clients, these alternatives may better meet their needs. If both parties agree to this alternative process, the parties select a private judge who is appointed by the Superior Court to make decisions regarding all or some of the issues in their case. The decision(s) made by the private judge have the same force and weight as that of a Superior Court judge. The parties may also select a private Judge to conduct a private settlement conference or another part of the court process, leaving the balance of the case to be decided in the Superior Court.

When a private judge is appointed, the trial, hearing or settlement conference can be set at the convenience of the parties and their lawyers. This provides both financial and scheduling benefits, as private judges do not have the crowded dockets that the Superior Court has and can be far more efficient. Short hearings, emergency orders and discovery matters can be handled quickly and informally, saving worry and money.