Resolving Divorce Disputes with "Private Justice"

Posted By Matthew Clawson || 23-Feb-2015

Colorado courts, especially in El Paso County, are swamped. Our state does not have a comprehensive family court system to handle matters of marital dissolution, child custody, child or spouse support and the like so all judges handle all kinds of cases, whether criminal trials, business disputes or family law matters. While Colorado law requires marriage and family law matters to be resolved only by court order, parties in these disputes are frustrated to find that it takes weeks or months just to get a short amount of time to be heard by a Colorado judge—who is then expected to render a wise decision on an intimate matter of family law that affects parents and children immediately and for years to come.

Family law matters are always urgent, yet Colorado judges just don't have the time to give these urgent matters the prompt attention they need and deserve. Court hearings are often re-scheduled one or more times before the matter can be addressed by the judge. Professional fees mount quickly when lawyers and expert witnesses have to prepare or travel to the court multiple times, then only to sit and wait for the hearing to be postponed because the judge could not finish the cases that were set to be heard earlier in the day.

Enter private judges and private "adjudication." Parties to dissolution and child custody or parenting disputes will find many reasons to seek "private justice":

  1. They may want the skills or expertise of a private judge;
  2. They may want to have the hearing or trial at a more convenient location than the courthouse;
  3. They will want the certainty of an "appointment" for the hearing in their dispute, providing certainty that the hearing will take place as scheduled
  4. They may want a private judge available to quickly handle minor disputes over the phone or in an expedited manner.

Private judges guarantee that the parties will have the full attention of the judge before, during and after the hearing—often for 8 or more hours in the day set for the hearing. Private judges who handle family law matters have often many years of experience in this area of law and are committed to resolving family law disputes in the best interest of all the parties.

"Private justice" is offered through the services of former Colorado judges, through an experienced attorney who serves as an arbitrator, through an attorney who serves as a "master" to decide a particular issue or through "Decision-Makers" who may be appointed by the Court to implement or clarify provisions of the Court's order in the case.

Unlike the state court system, however, "private justice" is not free. The parties will agree to hire a private judge to resolve their dispute and to pay that judge his or her hourly rate for preparation, hearing and deciding their dispute. This means that the convenience and speed of "private justice" is only available to those who are able to pay for it. Questions have been posed as to whether Colorado laws which permit "private justice" in family law matters actually perpetuate a two-tiered family law system based on the financial resources of the parties: one system that renders justice and decisions in a timely, deliberate and efficient manner ("private justice") and a public court system that resolves these important matters only after lengthy delays with limited consideration of the parties' concerns.

Consider contacting experienced family law attorneys, such as those of Clawson & Clawson LLP for a consultation regarding the options available to you for resolution of your family law matter. Experienced family law attorneys assist parties involved in marriage dissolution actions, or child parenting disputes, to determine the best options, and the best course of action, for parents and spouses to reach the best resolution of family law disputes in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

Categories: Divorce, Family Law

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