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Should Divorcing Couples Take Tips From The Recent Pitt-Jolie Decision To Go With A Private Judge?

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Normally, celebrity divorces aren't the place to go for inspiration because they can involve big egos and bigger problems. They usually aren't models of collaboration that can help guide you to better decision-making with your own divorce. However, the upcoming divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie may be one exception to that general rule. Here's what you might want to consider.

The public feud was creating a media circus.

The celebrity duo, who have been feuding in public over the custody of their six children, have taken a step back—apparently with those children in mind. Up until now, every filing made by the couple in court has been publicly available and poured over by media hounds who have used the details for tabloid fodder for several months now.

Pitt recently attempted to have the custody pleadings sealed, in an attempt to keep information about the family drama out of the press, but a judge denied his request in December 2016. Pitt stated that he was concerned that all the media scrutiny would irreparably damage their children's privacy rights. Jolie originally opposed the request, through her attorneys, stating that Pitt was only seeking to shield himself from information that might come out as she sought full physical custody of all six children.  

They've joined together for the best interests of their children.

Now the couple seems to have taken a step back and have decided to present a united front for the sake of their children. They've removed the case from the public court docket and are using a private judge, and both parties have agreed to keep all court documents confidential. Using a private judge is permissible under some state's laws and has a couple unique advantages:

  • The divorcing couple decides on what judge to hire and both parties can feel that they will receive an impartial hearing, as opposed to relying on whatever judge they're assigned in the public system.
  • The judge is usually more readily accessible and can work around complex schedules and often move a case along faster for a quicker resolution.

While a private judge isn't a solution for every couple, for those involved in high-asset divorces or those who are prominent members of their social community, the relative privacy of the proceedings can be a blessing. You don't necessarily have to have celebrity status on the level of the Pitt and Jolie—many prominent businesspersons, professionals, and local politicians may want to consider that as an option, rather than expose their inner family drama to the whole community.

In the end, a healthy divorce often requires a couple to do something that they may not have done in a while—function as a unit. If they're unable to do it for each other, their children can be strong motivators.

If you need to discuss your situation with a divorce attorney, don't wait. The sooner you begin planning, the easier it may be to come away from the situation on solid footing.