Sean Penn and Estranged Wife Leila George Hire Private Judge in Divorce

Sean Penn and Leila George's most recent court filing comes after they were seen celebrating New Year's Eve together

Sean Penn Leila George
Sean Penn and Leila George in January 2020. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty

Sean Penn and Leila George have taken the unusual step of retaining a private judge in their divorce.

In court documents obtained by PEOPLE, the estranged couple asked to appoint Hon. Scott Gordon as their privately compensated temporary judge, after George, 29, filed for divorce from Penn, 61, in October.

As part of the agreement, Penn will pay to retain the private judge's services, including Gordon's $950 hourly rate and additional fees.

Having a temporary judge preside over your case is possible in California as it was set up to help the state deal with its backlogged courts. This means it will allow the couple to expedite their divorce through backlogged courts, as Gordon serves as an extension of the court.

Sean Penn and Leila George
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty

Penn and George have been spotted together on multiple occasions since she filed for divorce in October, following more than a year of marriage. Most recently, they were seen celebrating New Year's Eve together in her native Sydney.

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After they were first romantically linked in 2016, the two-time Academy Award winner married George, an Australian actress and daughter of Vincent D'Onofrio, in Summer 2020. The COVID-safe wedding was hosted at home and attended only by close family, complete with a Zoom officiant.

"We did a COVID wedding," Penn said on Late Night with Seth Meyers. "By that I mean it was a county commissioner on Zoom and we were at the house, my two children and her brother. And we did it that way."

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A source told PEOPLE that Penn and George reunited earlier that year after their relationship was on and off for a while. They strengthened their bond while isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic, for which they also volunteered together.

Penn was previously married to Robin Wright, 55, with whom he shares daughter Dylan, 30, and son Hopper, 28.

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