Chapter 151 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code allows people to utilize private judges in divorce cases when both parties agree to such measures. Private judge hearings can be beneficial to people who want a faster resolution to their case or prefer to keep their domestic situation private.
Private judges offer several benefits to divorcing couples, provided that the parties are willing to agree to the costs involved. While private judging is allowed in Texas, the concept is still fairly new, and not all lawyers are familiar with how to handle such cases.
If you are considering a private judge for your divorce in the greater San Antonio area, you want to be sure that you pick the right judge. Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. understands private judge hearings and can help ensure that you select the best judge for your case. We can review your case and answer all of your questions when you schedule a free consultation by calling (210) 349-9933 or contacting us online.
Do I Need A Private Judging Lawyer?
A primary concern for many considering using a private judge will be the cost. However, in certain cases, private judges could end up saving you money. If the private judge is able to render a decision after a single hearing, as opposed to multiple court appearances without a private judge, the costs will generally be lower.
Another major reason people consider private judges is so they can get results faster. When you feel that the traditional court measures are taking too long, a private judge could be of benefit to you.
Private judges are not the same as mediation or arbitration. Those are completely separate processes that may be better suited for some cases.
A mediator is a neutral third party that assists both spouses in crafting divorce decrees or resolving other issues. However, the mediator does not render decisions in areas of dispute. An arbitrator, on the other hand, acts similarly to a judge in that they do decide contested issues, but their decisions may not always be binding.
Why Choose Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. To Handle My Case?
Every partner at Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. is Board Certified by the Board of Legal Specialization in Family Law. According to the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, there are only 840 Board Certified family law lawyers in Texas.
Jim Higdon is also Board Certified by the Board of Legal Specialization in Appellate Law. Only 426 attorneys in Texas are Board Certified, according to the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. understands the tremendous stress that comes with divorce proceedings, and we work hard to help make the processes easier for our clients. We will sit down with you and take the time to understand the issues, identify your goals, and build a plan to help you move on with your life.
Types of Private Judging Cases We Handle
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 151.001 establishes that family matters pending in any state court can be referred to a private judge on agreement of both parties involved. Under § 151.002, both parties to an action must file a motion requesting the referral, waiving their right to trial by jury, stating the issues to be referred, stating the time and place for the trial, and stating the name of the special judge. They must also state the fact that the special judge has agreed to hear the case, and the fee the judge is to receive as agreed on by the parties.
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 151.003 provides that a special judge must be a former or retired district court, statutory county court, statutory probate court, or appellate court judge who has served for at least four years, developed “substantial experience” in their area of specialty, and has not been removed from office or resigned while under investigation for discipline or removal. The judge must also demonstrate completion in the past calendar year of at least five days of continuing legal education (CLE) in approved courses.
Special judges largely enjoy the same powers as sitting judges although there are two significant exceptions. A private judge does not have the authority to preside over a jury trial, and they also cannot hold a person in contempt of court unless an individual is a witness before the special judge.
Because both parties have to agree on a private judge, the judge selected should not be an advantage to either party. However, the fact remains that at a trial conducted by a private judge, one party will be satisfied with the outcome and the other likely will not.
Keep in mind that Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 151.013 preserves the right of both parties to appeal any decision rendered by a private judge. Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 151.012 also outlines that a court can grant a new trial when the special judge does not submit the verdict within 60 days and a party files a motion requesting a new trial, notice is given to all parties stating when and where a hearing will be held on the motion, and the hearing is held.
Contact a Private Judging Attorney in San Antonio Today
Are you thinking about hiring a private judge for your divorce in San Antonio or a surrounding area of Texas? You’ll want to be sure that you contact Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. to fully explore all of your options and whether this one is right for you. Call (210) 349-9933 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.