The Post-Divorce-Parenting Glossary

Divorced-Parenting Term

Family Court


   What is family court?

   Family court is a court designed to convene over the numerous issues pertaining to family law.  The court decides or resolves matters pertaining to family as well as domestic relationships and intervenes by making orders in accordance with family law.


   In the United States, family courts were first created in 1910.  At that time they were referred to as domestic relations courts. They were established to resolve conflict and determine outcomes for cases that related to the institution of family. 


   Today, family courts are a division of each state’s superior courts and still primarily aim to maintain family as an institution.  Family courts attempt to determine the best possible outcome in family law cases, yet how they accomplish that varies from state to state.  
   What is the role of family court in regards to divorce and child custody?
   Family courts convene over divorce and child custody cases.  The court intervenes by deciding divorce and custody cases, then making appropriate orders.  Family court judges specialize in resolving conflict or disputes related to family matters.  A family court judge may order that spouses embroiled in conflict over child custody seek mediation and attempt to foster a collaborative divorce process, which entails compromise or give and take.


   A family court judge is responsible for helping to resolve issues that have not been resolved through mediation or by the spouses on their own.  Therefore, a family court judge will decide on disagreements of the following issues pertaining to divorce and child custody:

  •        division of assets or marital property,
  •        child visitation,
  •        type of child custody,
  •        the amount of child support,
  •        alimony, and
  •        factors around safety such as orders of protection.


   A separated couple seeking divorce may reach agreement about the above issues prior to entering a family court.  If the family court judge decides that the agreement is appropriate and in the best interest of the child it will likely be approved as the legal divorce settlement agreement.


   More and more family court judges are favoring spouses that approach their divorce and custody matters in a collaborative or give and take approach.  Spouses that take on an adversarial style in front of a family court judge may find that they lose decisions in family court.  A possible reason for this as that judges may conclude that a divorcing spouse who is unwilling to compromise is placing conflict ahead of the children’s welfare thus not considering the best interests of the children. 
   What can you do to impress a Family Court Judge?

   Come to court prepared.

   Don’t make the mistake that you attorney will be prepared. Make sure you have a copy of every document, witness list and any other thing pertaining to your case that your attorney has.
   Don’t make a scene in court that will reflect negatively upon you.

   Jeff had reason to be angry, he had reason to want to do harm to the man who had harmed his children. He knew that keeping a level head and letting the judge deal with it was the best action to take. If you have a similar situation or you are feeling angry and frustrated over an issue let the judge be the last to know how you are feeling.
   Follow accepted courtroom protocol.

   This means following your attorney’s advice, speaking when spoken to and only address the judge if he asks you a direct question. If you think your attorney has made a mistake or failed to address a certain issue whisper to him/her and ask for a few minutes of time to explain something. Either that or write a note about your concerns.
   Be honest to a fault.

   There may be things going on you don’t want the judge to know about but it is better to look like a person who has made poor choices than a liar.  If something questionable is going on, on your end, more than likely the other side has discovered it and will bring it up.  Judges don’t look kindly upon people who try to lie to them.


Family court
overview of the functions of family court and how they may vary from state to state
Overview of the various roles of family court
The role of family court

family court, divorce court, family law

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