Family Courts

Resource Guide

Family courts handle a variety of matters relating to the family, including juvenile matters, child abuse, custody, visitation, child support, and sometimes probate. Family courts offer or refer the public to a wide variety of services, including counseling, mediation, parenting classes, and social services.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.


Featured Links

American Judges Association. (2014).

The AJA announces “Effective Adjudication of Domestic Abuse Cases,” the newly developed and free online domestic violence education program for judges. The program explores the unique dynamics of domestic violence, including assessing lethality and dangerousness, custody and protective orders, special evidentiary issues, and effective sentencing.

 

Van Duizend, Richard and Nora E. Sydow. A New Judicial Commitment to Improving the Child Protection Process and the Quality of Outcomes for Children. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts. Over the past five years, the leaders of the nation’s state courts and human services/child protection agencies have gathered three times for national summits to improve the process for protecting the safety and ensuring the well-being of neglected and abused children. This article describes the priorities that they have defined and the approaches they have initiated to achieve them.

General

Flango, Carol. Family-Friendly Courts. Future Trends in State Courts. This article provides examples of three different functions of family-friendly courts - assigning cases, coordinating cases, and coordinating services.

Cassidy, Harry T. The Future of the Unified Family Court. (2007) Future Trends in State Courts. A Review of Perspectives from New Jersey. A family-centered court that is designed to address a wide range of family issues may class with the perveived needs of a range of institutional stakeholders that file cases in family court.
Children and Families in Court: A Compendium of Programs, Practices and Resources in the State Courts. (2002). NCSC, The COSCA Courts, and Children and Family Committee A compilation of information about innovative court-based programs for children and families.
Battin, David B., and Stephen J. Ceci Children as Witnesses: What We Hear Them Say May Not Be What They Mean. (Spring 2003). Court Review 40, no. 1: 4 The authors describe the difficulty of sometimes understanding exactly what a child is saying when he or she is a witness.  The authors believe that recognizing the differences between the perspectives of children and adults and structuring their interviews accordingly will help mitigate some problems when using child witnesses.
Rubin, H. Ted and Victor Flango. Court Coordination of Family Cases. (1992).

Research examines the frequency with which families in the court system have multiple related cases filed in different court.

Flango, Carol, Victor Flango and H. Ted Rubin. How are Courts Coordinating Family Cases?. (September 1999).

Families come to court for many reasons, and some families return to court frequently. For these families, a coordinated approach to the multiplicity of cases involving various family members and an integrated human service delivery system seems to hold the most promise of moving the family toward self-sufficiency.

Goerdt, John. Divorce Courts: Case Management, Case Characteristics, and the Pace of Litigation in 16 Urban Jurisdictions. (1992).

Domestic relations cases are a large and socially important segment of the caseload in state courts. Among domestic relations cases, divorce cases are among the most important for judges and court managers. Divorce cases comprise a third of all domestic relations cases.

Exemplary Family Court Programs and Practices: Profiles of Innovative and Accountable Court-Connected Programs. (May 2005). Association of Family and Conciliation Courts AFCC's Court Services Task Force Exemplary Practices Sub-Committee published a report detailing promising family court initiatives in areas including access to justice, children's services, parenting plan services, dispute resolution services, parenting support, specialty courts, and information technology.
Family Court and Attorney General Singer`s Office Partner to Launch New Fathering Court. (October 2007). District of Columbia Courts This short article discusses the new Fathering Court Program implemented in Washington DC. The program offers support to incarcerated parents, helping them meet the emotional needs of their children. More information on the new Fathering Court can be found here.
Flango, Carol R. Family-Focused Courts. (2000). Journal of the Center for Families, Children, and the Law 2 This article discusses the development of a “familyfocused court,” a consumer-oriented court of either special or general jurisdiction that responds to the need for a more accessible and  friendly court for the families who need to maneuver through it.
Uekert, Brenda. Integrating Criminal and Civil Matters in Family Courts: Performance Areas and Recommendations. (August 2002).

Family violence is a complex issue that involves a variety of family and criminal legal issues. Yet the court system remains fragmented-typically handling criminal cases in one court and civil in another.

Ernest J. Mazorol, III. Integrated Approaches to Family-Court Case Processing.

Future Trends in State Courts. This article reviews the 1994 establishment of the Integrated Family Court in Deschutes County, Oregon. It looks at the reasons why this unified model with not implemented statewide and addresses findings from a 2006 study on the benefits on integrated family courts.

Kaleina, Georgene. Survey Registers Appreciable Rise in Family Courts Nationwide. (Spring 2008). Unified Family Court Connection. University of Baltimore School of Law, Center for Families, Children and the Courts This article discusses the findings of a recent comprehensive survey of the nation's family courts to assess the growth of family justice reform movement.  Also provided is a classification of the status of family courts every state.
Synthesis of 2005 Court Improvement Program Reform and Activities. (July 2007). U.S. Department of Health & Human Services This report provides an update on State implementation of CIP, a program that continues to evolve as the major vehicle for dependency court reform. It is based on information contained in the fiscal year 2005 annual State program reports submitted to the Children’s Bureau, supplemented by discussions with CIP coordinators and other sources. Through these reports and discussions, it is clear that courts have used CIP funding in a variety of ways to improve their performance, practice, and involvement in child welfare reform.