One way of staying out of court is to hire your own judge or arbitrator to make decisions about your divorce. Courts are interested in encouraging settlement, so if you want to pay an arbitrator or a private judge to hear both sides of the divorce and make decisions, they're usually all for it. (A few states don't allow arbitration in divorce cases, though, so ask a lawyer in your state to be sure it's available). 

Arbitration and private judging are similar--in both instances, divorcing spouses choose a lawyer or retired judge to make decisions in their divorce case. The main difference is that an arbitration takes you outside of the court system. While you still must file your divorce paperwork in court and get a final judgment from a family court judge, your arbitration hearing takes place entirely separately, and the resulting decision is binding on you. In contrast, when you use a private judge, the divorce court retains a role as supervisor of the private judging process, and you can appeal to the court if you're not happy with the private judge's decision. 

Both arbitration and private judging allow you to choose the person who will be making decisions about your divorce, and both allow you much greater control over the speed of the process, and much greater privacy, than having your case heard in divorce court. Learn more in the articles below.

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