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Should I hire a private judge for my divorce?

There's a unique trend appearing among the jet set for handling divorces quickly and with less publicity than going the traditional route: private judges. But is this something you can take advantage of as an ordinary person without Hollywood connections? Yes, Colorado does allow privately hired judges to hear and rule on a variety of cases, including divorce. The important question you may be asking, however, is: will it work for me?

Here, we have put together a handful of things to consider when choosing whether a private judge might be a good option for your divorce.

What's the cost?

Private judges charge between $300 and $1000 per hour, making them a significant investment. However, there may be cost savings in the process, too. For example, a private judge's schedule is not dictated by the courts, which means that your divorce could be finalized in a matter of days, not months. This shorter time frame means that, at least theoretically, you could be paying less in legal fees, depending on your particular case.

Can I choose my judge?

Yes and no. If you and your spouse agree on the selection, then yes. If you and your spouse agree on using a private judge, but disagree as to the selection, the court might select one for you. When you and your spouse hire a private judge that you both agree on, it's possible that you could both be happier with the outcome since you made the decision together.

Perhaps it's particularly important that you agree on a judge with specific experience in child custody matters. Knowing your judge ahead of time may help you come to agreement more quickly, thus making it easier to accept the court's decision. However, there is still the risk that the private judge would not rule in your favor. But decrees by private judges can be appealed.

If you have the means and desire to cut some of the red tape, talking to your family law attorney about including a private judge in your divorce process may be just what you need.

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