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Michael Jackson, ex-wife hire family law judge

Michael Jackson performs in this 2002 file photo in Pasadena, California.
Michael Jackson performs in this 2002 file photo in Pasadena, California.

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Debbie Rowe
Michael Jackson
Justice and Rights

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Pop star Michael Jackson and his ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, have hired a retired judge to help them resolve an undisclosed "family law" matter, according to papers filed in a Los Angeles court.

Former Superior Court Judge Stephen M. Lachs was "appointed as judge for all purposes in the subject 'family law' matter," according to an order from Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl. His decisions in the case will be binding, Friday's order states.

The documents do not indicate why Jackson and Rowe, divorced since 1999, are back in court. Neither Rowe's attorney, Iris Finsilver, or Jackson's attorney, Lance Spiegel, returned calls from CNN.

The couple have two children together: Prince Michael, 7, and Paris, believed to be 5 or 6 years old.

Jackson pleaded not guilty in January to nine felony charges against him -- seven counts of performing lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent.

That case is pending in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

The retired judge who will hear the matter between Jackson and Rowe works with Action Dispute Resolution Services, a private company that offers private mediation or arbitration services to people involved in civil disputes.

"If you had a high-profile case and you didn't want it to be public, you would come here," Lucie Barron, ADR Services' president, told CNN. "If you have a situation where you don't want a lot of adverse publicity or scandal, you come to us because it is totally private. It is completely confidential."

Barron said the hourly amount for an adjudication judge ranges from $350 to $450 per hour.

Lachs served on the bench for 20 years in Los Angeles Superior Court and had been the supervising judge for its family law courts. His resume states that he "has had considerable experience at the delicate task of overseeing cases involving public figures."

No date has been disclosed for a hearing on the Jackson matter before Lachs.

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