FloridaDivorce-Using a Private Judge to Keep Your Information Confidential


Most couples in heavily litigated divorces may not realize that all of their information in a divorce will become public records, which means anyone can walk into court and ask to see their divorce court file.

For couples who have grown children or no children but who have extensive financial holdings and other matters they want to keep private while going through a divorce there is an alternative.  That alternative is a private trial.

Below is information on the private trial process, provided by Paul Siegel, Trial Resolution Judge, in a question-answer format.  Mr. Siegel was a sitting judge in the family division for many years as a judge.  His site, VoluntaryTrialResolution.Com can provides you more information on the process.

What is a private trial?

The private trial process was create by statute in 1999, and can be found in Section 44.104 of the Florida Statutes.

Both parties to a case have to agree to the procedure before they can take advantage of the benefits of a private trial.  Trial, the parties choose a judge who will then try the case, resulting in a binding, enforceable, appealable decision.

The private judge could then apply all remedies appropriate in the situation, including striking pleadings or adding the unpaid fees to a judgment, assuming they are advanced by the initiating party.

How is that different from a trial before the presiding judge already assigned to the case?

The main difference is that the parties choose their judge and trial date.  In all other respects, the private judge will follow the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure and the Florida Evidence Code; and the litigating parties receive an appealable final judgment.

What are the benefits to a private trial?

Divorce litigation, like any other litigation, can be very expensive.  When a case is moved from one trial calendar to another, each time the attorneys have to fully prepare the case and the client is billed for the repetitive work. This is avoided when using a private judge because the parties choose the trial date, and the preparation is usually done once.

Another benefit involved is avoiding the clogged court system.

The end result is that in many cases, even though the private judge is paid, that cost can be minimal compared to the larger costs in the traditional judicial system.

In summary, Mr. Siegel suggests, for family cases, “…the process is useful for high net worth or high profile family litigants without kids who don’t want a public trial; who don’t others looking at their finances, or snooping into their sex lives.”

Given the many ways in which our information can now be known far and wide through the internet by anybody, this is something worth keeping in mind.

If you are interested in the private trial process, visit Paul Siegel’s VoluntaryTrialResolution.Com for more information.

©  2011 Vivian C. Rodriguez


Vivian C. Rodriguez is a divorce and paternity attorney in Florida. For articles about Florida family law visit Florida Divorce Articles.  You may publish or share this article with others so long as you forward it in its entirety, including the copyright information. Thanks!




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