Each state has its own manner of dealing with family law cases. Some states have provided specific family courts, while others have decided to have all family law cases heard in other divisions, such as a circuit court.
Family courts are utilized for any cases that relate to relationships between family or domestic relationships, such as a couple that is dating. It can be beneficial to have a court that deals only with cases that are related to familial relations.
For example, family courts have freed up other areas of the judicial system. However, many people are opposed to family courts for various reasons. Many people claim that family courts promote discord among family members and often drag out legal battles. However, the basic premise of creating family courts was to promote stability among family units.
In contrast, many people claim that family courts make decisions based on bias. In fact, statistics show that women are far more likely to retain custody of children, even when fathers are just as adept at raising the children. In fact many people argue that in cases where both parents are equal, the parent that is more fiscally secure should receive custody rights.
However, the courts claim to make all decisions based in the best interests of the child and many courts believe that mothers should retain custody in those cases. Many people also claim that families are forced to spend huge amounts of money in order to have a case heard in family courts. In fact, a more wealthy individual generally receives better results in family court cases because they can afford to retain the services of a family law attorney.
Family law attorneys are very knowledgeable as to the intricacies involved in family law, and generally achieve far better result than individuals that represent themselves. In fact, individuals that acquire the services of a family law firm fair even better, because firms employ lawyers with varying specialities within family law. However, individuals that must represent themselves, can also experience positive results from their family law case.
As long as individuals educate themselves about all applicable laws, forms and possible outcomes, they will be more confident in court. That confidence and knowledge can result in positive outcomes. Due to the differing ability of individuals to retain legal services, some courts find that it is advantageous for couples to attempt an agreement through family court mediation.
In mediation, couples seek to reach agreements and therefore, the courts are only burdened with decisions on factor in which the couples could not come to an agreement. This saves the courts time and the couple money. Another option for individuals facing family court is collaborative family law. In that case, couples strive to come to a mutually beneficial agreement in the absence of court intervention. These agreements simply require court approval once it has been reached.
Types of Cases Tried and Role of Court
There are several types of cases heard in family court. In some instances, these cases overlap. Due to that overlap, families often have their cases heard by the same judge, or group of judges. In fact, cases that are heard by the same judge, often result in quicker decisions and less stress for all involved parties. When judges are familiar with a family, cases run more smoothly and family members are not forced to repeat the background facts of the case.
For example, divorces are heard in family court. Divorce cases often relate to many other issues for the court. In addition to granting the divorce, judges may have to rule on several other issues that result from that ruling.
For instance, a couple that has children will need the courts decision on issues that pertain to child support and child custody. In fact, those are two separate issues for the court to decide. In addition, the courts may issue a temporary ruling on those issues, until a permanent ruling can be issued. In addition, some divorces involve domestic abuse or child abuse.
The court will certainly make determinations on those issues, probably before they hear any cases related to child support or custody. The judge is not likely to grant custody, or even unsupervised visitation to a parent that has been found to be abusive.
In addition, the courts have the power to grant legal name changes to spouses, and even to children. The name changes may be granted so that victims can escape the abuser. However, name changes may also be granted simply because a woman prefers to go back to her maiden name. In contrast, the courts also hear cases that relate to existing marriages.
For example, parents may have disagreements relating to issues that relate to the upbringing of children. Family courts also hear cases on adoption. In some marriages, a step parent may want to legally adopt their spouse’s children.
The family courts would make that determination, based on the wishes of surviving parents, and the best interests of the children. Family courts also make decisions on foster care placements and juvenile delinquency. In fact, family courts hear an endless list of types of cases that relate to familial and domestic relationships.
The courts offer many resources to any individual that is involved in family law cases. First, the courts will provide any forms that pertain to the case.
In addition, the courts will provide detailed directions that explain how the forms must be filled out and where they should be filed. In addition, the courts will help serve all involved parties with any legal summons. Family courts will also provide individuals with resources such as family law centers.
Those centers employ specialists that help families come to a mutual agreement in the absence of court intervention. This type of mediation helps families to avoid the stress, expense and time involved in court proceedings. In fact, cases handled by family law centers generally reach agreements much sooner than those handled in court. The courts will also provide information for individuals that cannot afford to retain the services of a family law attorney.
In fact, they generally provide lists of resources for individuals or families that qualify for free legal advice or pro bono legal representation. However, some individuals find that they still have to represent themselves in court. There are many resources available to those individuals. In addition to free legal advice from state agencies or organizations in the non profit sector, individuals can utilize the services in law libraries.
Generally, law libraries can provide the most up to date information on family law, and can also provide examples of case law that may apply to the individuals specific case. In fact, law libraries often grant access to all legal forums and fee based websites. Employees will help individuals to sort through the myriad of information available.