Wealthy couples are spending up to $20,000 a day on private judges to get divorces ASAP

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Divorces are on the rise during the pandemic. Vladimir Smirnov/Getty Images

Wealthy couples are sparing no expense to get the pandemic divorce of their dreams.

They have increasingly been hiring private judges to settle, reported Courtney Rubin for The New York Times. In a time when divorces are on the uptick, she wrote, having a personal judge can enable clients to control their schedule and skip the backlog of cases facing public judges.

Divorce lawyers told Rubin these judges can cost anywhere from $US800 an hour to $US20,000 a day.

As Elizabeth Lindsey, a divorce lawyer in Atlanta and president of the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers, said, “You’re paying for white-glove service.”

The pandemic is exacerbating couples’ differences

Spending so much time together during quarantine has forced some couples to confront what they have been ignoring: an unhappy marriage.

“As they say, familiarity breeds contempt,” Nancy Chemtob, divorce lawyer and founding partner of Chemtob Moss Forman & Beyda, told Insider back in August.

At the time, she estimated that the firm had seen a 30% uptick in conflict checks — a process that ensures a potential new client isn’t a conflicting interest with a new or former client of the firm — since the pandemic began. “I’ve never seen anything like this ever,” she said. The requests didn’t slow during the holidays, she later told Rubin at the Times, typically a quiet time for divorces.

Busy pre-pandemic lives — filled with parties, friend dinners, and travelling — distracted couples from the distance that had grown between them, Chemtob told Insider, which they had often overlooked for the sake of the kids. But the emptiness of quarantine was causing the facade to fade and leading them to question their future together, as they also question the state of the world.

Quarantine has also forced partners to see each other’s true colours, in which different values are coming to a head.

Today’s contentious political landscape, Chemtob said, is making ideological differences between couples more glaring than ever. Differences over how to handle the pandemic are also coming to a head, she added, which are playing out in parenting styles.

But the biggest factor, she said, is financial stress. One spouse is worried about their business and making ends meet, while the other will have an influx of Amazon packages coming in.

“Financial pressures coupled with being together literally 24 hours a day are breaking the camel’s back,” she said.