What Is a Private Judge, and What Do They Do?

Getting a divorce doesn't mean you have to go through the traditional divorce court process. You have options, and one of those is using a private judge to resolve your divorce.

What is a private judge?

A private judge is a lawyer or retired judge who is hired by parties involved in a legal dispute. Their job is to hear and decide the case in a private setting outside of a traditional courtroom. This option is often used in cases where parties desire a more efficient and private legal process.

It’s important to note that a private judge’s decision is legally binding and enforceable just like a judge’s decision in a traditional court setting.

While the cost of hiring a private judge varies depending on location and other factors, it can be an expensive alternative to traditional litigation. However, the benefits of hiring a private judge may outweigh the costs.

Free download: California Divorce Checklist

How do private judges get involved in divorces?

A private judge can allow couples to resolve their disputes outside of the traditional court system. This is appealing to many people since it can provide a faster divorce timeline as well as increased privacy throughout the process.

Private judges can be particularly helpful in divorce cases due to the sensitive nature of the proceedings. They can review and approve divorce papers, including the settlement agreement, parenting plan, and property division agreement, ensuring that the documents are fair and comply with state laws. 

Benefits of hiring a private judge for your divorce


One of the primary benefits of working with a private judge on your legal matter is the timeliness of the process. Since private judges are hired to hear and decide on legal disputes outside a traditional courtroom setting, scheduling is more flexible. You’re not necessarily competing with a docket full of other people for time with your judge. This can help expedite the legal process, allowing you to avoid the lengthy waiting period that often occurs in traditional court cases.


As you surely know, divorce can be an emotionally challenging experience. Understandably, many couples prefer to keep their private life out of the public eye. Privacy is another significant advantage of hiring a private judge, particularly in divorce cases that involve high assets or other information you’d like to keep to yourself. 

A private judge can help ensure that divorce proceedings remain between the parties involved and do not become a matter of public record. For public figures and other high-profile individuals, this can be particularly helpful.


Private judges often have years of experience in a particular area of law. As such, they can provide you with a more focused and tailored legal process than you would get in the public court system. This can be beneficial for complex legal disputes and cases where specialized knowledge is required. 

For example, you might select a judge with expertise and experience in divorce. Your judge’s familiarity with family law can help you feel more confident that you’re getting a fair and impartial resolution when it comes to hot-button issues such as property division, child custody, child support, and alimony.

Free download: What to Include in Your Settlement Agreement

What to look for when hiring a private judge 

If you want to hire a private judge to review your divorce documents or handle other aspects of your divorce, here are some things to consider: 

Judicial background

Look for a retired judge with extensive experience presiding over divorce cases similar to your own. This helps assure that the judge will be familiar with relevant laws and procedures.

Bar membership and standing

Check that the judge is in good standing with the state bar association and has no disciplinary history.


A good private judge will also be able to provide references to past clients who have used their services.

Free of bias

Make sure the judge has no prior relationship with any party involved in the dispute, preventing any potential biases. Similarly, verify that the judge discloses any potential conflicts of interest before accepting your case.

Affordable rates

It is also important to look for a private judge who clearly outlines their hourly rate and fee structure. They should provide regular updates on costs incurred throughout the process so you aren’t surprised with a big bill down the road.

Hello Divorce can help

Hello Divorce can help you find a private judge in your area who specializes in divorce. In fact, we offer private judge services right now for clients in the state of California at an affordable cost. With the right judge for your case, you could obtain a suitable resolution faster than it would take to go through the traditional court process.



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Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.