Should I Hire a Privately Compensated Temporary Judge?

 

Going through a divorce can be a stressful and extremely lengthy process. Your local court system may be inundated with cases, which means your divorce case may be scheduled months out. If you’re enduring a particularly emotional divorce, or time is a concern, you may be wondering if a private temporary judge is appropriate. These judges can hasten the timeline of a divorce proceeding and help both parties move on with their lives sooner. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is a Privately Compensated Temporary Judge?

A privately compensated temporary judge, also called a PCTJ, can prove invaluable to your court proceeding. Perhaps you’ve heard this acronym in meetings with your attorney. California law allows parties to opt out of the public court system and use a PCTJ to make rulings on crucial aspects of your divorce case.

There are a couple catches with using privately a compensated temporary judge, however. These include:

  • Prior approval from the family law judge currently working your case. You must request the appointment through your applicable court system and sign a stipulation that states your intention to hire a PCTJ. After approval, this becomes a court order.
  • Privately compensated judges are just that – privately compensated. Choosing to pay a judge to rule on your case may result in a shorter case, but you’ll also have to pay for it. On the other hand, hiring a PCTJ may prove to be more cost-effective than lengthy litigation. Your divorce attorney can help you decide which option is best for you.

What Can a PCTJ Do?

A privately compensated temporary judge has all the rights and responsibilities of a Superior Court judge. This means they’re qualified to make rulings on all aspects of your divorce case, including:

  • Spousal support. The decision to provide spousal support or alimony depends on several factors, including the length of the marriage, difference in income, and whether one spouse left a career to raise children.
  • Child custody. Custodial arrangements are often among the most contentious in a divorce proceeding. A PCTJ can shorten the length of this emotionally turbulent proceeding.
  • Division of property. A PCTJ can also help rule on and resolve disputes regarding personal property and assets.

A privately compensated temporary judge offers notable advantages and disadvantages. They can be an attractive option for a particularly emotional divorce, or divorces that are time sensitive (one example might be a divorce where one party is moving out of state). In contentious divorces, a privately compensated temporary judge can even save money on litigation or expensive back-and-forth meetings with opposing counsel.

On the other hand, when considering hiring a PCTJ, the cost is a major consideration, and probably the biggest drawback. Hiring a PCTJ will be much like hiring an additional attorney – expect to pay a similar amount for their time and expertise.

A PCTJ might not be the best option for every family law matter. For more information, or to see if a privately compensated temporary judge is right for you, consult with your divorce attorney.