Family Court Masters or Magistrates

In many jurisdictions, in addition to the trial and the alternative dispute mechanisms described above, there is another layer of the judicial system known as masters or magistrates. These people are "junior judges" whose job it is to hear the evidence and make "proposed findings," or recommendations, to a judge. In some cases, using masters or magistrates prolong matters, whereas in others it speeds things up. Discuss with your lawyer whether using a master or magistrate is an option in your case and, if so, whether you should choose to do so.

Since a master’s or magistrate’s decision is not final until a judge adopts it, going through a trial presided over by a master or magistrate can wind up being an expensive exercise that leads nowhere except to a new trial in front of a judge. It is important that you understand how the system works in your jurisdiction. Even if you win in front of the master or magistrate, don’t be surprised to learn that it was only the first round.



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