What do couples hate most about divorce? Airing the family’s problems. The slowness. The inconvenience. The procedural limitations. The expense.

An alternative some couples look to, to avoid these negative aspects, is the private judge.

Here in California, we’re familiar with the idea. Movie stars like Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt look to private judges when they divorce. It is a solution to many problems.

The concept is simple

Instead of divorcing through the court system, you hire a private judge, also called a temporary judge. The two parties must agree on the choice of judge. You still access the courts, with the divorcing parties requesting a stipulation (“stip”) allowing the appointment of a temporary judge. Upon completion, the judge’s decision is filed with the court.

Once this appointment is made, a private judge has the same power and responsibilities of conventional judges. Like other judges, they are obliged to be impartial, fair and ethical. They judge — that is, they decide what will happen in the divorce agreement, based on the input of the two sides.

Once this appointment is made, a private judge has the same power and responsibilities of conventional judges. Like other judges, they are obliged to be impartial, fair and ethical. They judge — that is, they decide what will happen in the divorce agreement, based on the input of the two sides.

Though we mainly hear about private judges in cases of celebrities, they are in fact a good choice for anyone seeking to maximize privacy and flexibility, and minimize the “publicness,” slowness, and inconvenience of going through the regular court system.

Is a private judge a good idea for your situation? That is for you to decide. Divorce, for the reasons we have already mentioned, is the most common use private judges are put to, but can assist in many other civil matters as well.