Jennifer Garner is an American actress. She became famous for her role
as Sydney Bristol in the ABC Television series
Alias. She continued her success in feature films such as
13 Going on 30, and the superhero films
Garner met fellow actor (and fellow superhero star) Ben Affleck and began
dating in 2004. They married in 2005. They have three children, a daughter
age 12, a daughter age 10, and a son age 6. The couple separated in 2015,
and Garner filed for divorce in 2017.
On October 4, 2018, according to the website TMZ, Garner asked that her
divorce filings be removed from the Los Angeles County court system and
be controlled by a private judge. By hiring a private judge, her marriage
to Affleck could be decided much quicker than going through the usual
But what is a private judge, and would it be in my best interests to use
one for my divorce?
The California State Constitution allows parties to take their case to
a private judge, just as long as the private judge
has the qualifications to serve as a judge in a public court. After agreeing to a specific private judge, a
Stipulation for Appointment is signed by all parties and their attorneys, and the private judge. It
is then sent to the presiding judge of the county where the case is pending.
After the presiding judge approves and signs the order, the private judge
has all of the powers of a sitting Superior Court judge
for that case only.
Whether a private judge would help in a specific divorce case, depends
on the issues in that case. Can the parties agree on settling their issues?
If not, can the parties afford to hire a private judge? If the case is
contentious, the legal fees – now including a judge’s fees
– will be very expensive, more so than in public court.
If the parties can agree to work with the private judge to settle their
case, the parties will share in many benefits. Not only will they save
on judge’s fees, but they’ll also be able to work directly
with the judge (and their attorneys, of course) in a more informal setting.
Keep in mind that the judge retains all the powers under the law that a
currently-sitting court judge holds, and he or she can and will make orders
for the parties to follow.
Another major benefit to the parties is the time factor. Having your own
judge can reduce time when trying to get hearing dates and/or access to
the judge. This can lessen the wait time significantly. (Again, remember,
there is a minimum six-month waiting period before any divorce judgment
can be finalized.)
Also, private judges are experts in family law, and can prevent technical
errors in filing paperwork through the court system. A technical error
will result in a rejection of the paperwork and can cost the parties months
in lost time.
After the parties have agreed to their settlement, the Final Judgment is
filed with the court system and the parties are divorced.