The Ohio legal system allows for both judges and magistrates to take part in the legal process. There is a clear distinction between the two with specific eligibility requirements for both roles.
In matters involving family court, there are roles for both a judge and magistrate as defined by the law of a municipality.
Difference between judges and magistrates
Although both individuals serve the court, a magistrate is a licensed attorney appointed to serve by a judge. A domestic or juvenile court judge can assign a magistrate to aid in a particular case. Under Ohio law, a magistrate works on behalf of the judge and performs many of the same duties a judge carries out. Judges, on the other hand, are typically elected to a position within a judicial district. Judges oversee the decisions made by a magistrate and have the authority to approve, modify or reverse a decision.
Duties of a magistrate
In a domestic court, a magistrate carries the same authority as a judge. The magistrate is able to preside over the following hearings:
- Pre-decree motions involving divorce, legal separation or annulment
- Pre-decree motions involving child support or custody with some exceptions
- Final hearings for issues with annulment, divorces, dissolutions, legal separation, child or support of a child
- Post-decree motions regarding family matters with some exceptions
A judge also has the ability to refer a specific matter to a magistrate for attention, in addition to having final authority over some motions.
In some cases, a magistrate presides over a case because of the unavailability of a judge. Ohio law clearly identifies the allowances and exceptions concerning a magistrate’s service.