Many people think filing for divorce in Florida is expensive.
They might want to re-think that.
The York County area in Virginia has come up with a creative solution to rising public costs and shrinking public budgets for contentious family court litigation of contested divorce cases and contested child custody cases.
Namely, shift the costs to the litigating spouses and parents.
The York County area courts have no full-time professional judges on salary to hear divorce court cases involving disputes over property division! None. At all.
Instead, this part of Virginia taps practicing local attorneys to hear family court cases on an independent contractor basis, over the course of their day juggling cases in their law practices.
With the spouses and parents picking up the tab to have a hearing officer for their contested divorce cases and contested child custody cases, at a cost of about $250 per hour in court.
Payable in advance, in the form of a $2,000 “retainer” from each party, held in an escrow account for the hearing officer.
Just another expense of divorce and child custody battles? An omen of the future here in Florida and other jurisdictions?
There is some backlash among local attorneys practicing in the area, who view this requirement as shutting some litigants out of divorce court (or family court) … in violation of constitutional equal protection principles … and in just one county of the state. Among other concerns.
On another level, funding and operation of the legal justice system is generally perceived as a uniquely governmental function.
Raising the question: where should privatization end?