Family Courts are Here to Stay, So Let's Improve Them
Family Court Review, Vol. 52, No. 4, pp. 642-647, October 2014
8 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2014 Last revised: 20 May 2015
Date Written: October 1, 2014
This article is an invited response to the White Paper of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System's Honoring Families Initiative on the court and separating and divorcing families. While the White Paper explores many topics, including family court functions, the limitations of the adversary process, the effects of divorce and separation on children and parents, and court and community collaborations, among others, this article focuses on the family court itself - its mission, its function, and its structure. Given the increasing numbers of people using the courts to resolve their family legal disputes, this perspective is important. For example, in Maryland during fiscal year 2013, forty-four percent of the total trial court filings involved family and juvenile cases, exceeding the portion devoted to either criminal or other civil cases. In fact, as the White Paper points out, "[t]he family courts have, in effect, become an emergency room for family problems when separating and divorcing parents have nowhere else to turn for help in addressing their problems with each other and their children." With that in mind, family courts likely are not going to disappear. Thus, they are worthy of our efforts to structure or restructure them so that they are as helpful to children and families as possible.
Keywords: family courts, family court process, therapeutic jurisprudence, ecology of human development, unified family court, family justice system, family law, divorce, parents, children, holistic approach
JEL Classification: K19, K39, K41, K49, L84
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation