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
- They may want the skills or expertise of a private judge;
- They may want to have the hearing or trial at a more convenient location
than the courthouse;
- They will want the certainty of an "appointment" for the hearing
in their dispute, providing certainty that the hearing will take place
- 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.