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A family court is a court of Equity convened to decide matters and make orders in relation to family law, such as custody of children. In common-law jurisdictions "family courts" are statutory creations primarily dealing with equitable matters devolved from a court of inherent jurisdiction, such as a superior court. Family courts were first established in the United States in 1910, when they were called domestic relations courts although the idea itself is much older.
Family courts hear all cases that relate to familial and domestic relationships. Although each state has a different system utilized to address family law cases, each state strives to provide families with the best possible outcome in family law cases. Family courts can also issue decisions regarding divorce cases.
In the United States
In the United States family court falls under the heading of Trial Courts of Limited Jurisdiction. These types of courts deal only with a specific type of case and they are usually presided over by a single judge without a jury. In the United States a family often will use mediation (family mediation) instead of a family court. This allows families to find solutions that suit their specific needs, rather than being forced to adhere to the ruling of a judge. The idea of using family court is to put the child first and help parents resolve disputes. M.A.R.C.H stands for Mediation Achieving Results for Children and was established in Missouri in 1997. M.A.R.C.H is proven to be an effective alternative dispute resolution process and is now used in 45 of the state's judicial circuits; it is the less costly alternative, both emotionally and financially. According to statistics, 75 percent of families who participate in mediation reach an agreement, and 92 percent of those that do reach the agreement are satisfied with the mediation process. The American Bar Association sites nearly 10,000 members in The Section of Family Law.
In the United Kingdom
Cases involving children are primarily dealt with under the Children Act 1989, amongst other statutes. As of 22 April 2014 there are two family courts:
The Family Court was created by Part 2 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, merging into one the family law functions of the county courts and magistrates' courts.
Two types of scenario are covered by the Children Act 1989: private law cases, where the applicant and respondent are usually the child's parents; and public law cases, where the applicant is the local authority and the parents are usually respondents. There is much debate at present over whether the manner in which the law is administered generally leads to outcomes that are beneficial to the families concerned. In this context, see fathers' rights.
Cases involving domestic violence are primarily dealt with under Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996.
In the United Kingdom, a family court may be called upon to require the payment of child maintenance, when the child is either under the age of 16, or under the age of 20 receiving a full-time education (but not higher than A-Level or equivalent).
The Family Courts Act 1984 was enacted on 14 September 1984 to provide for the family courts with a view to promoting conciliation in and secure speedy settlement of disputes relating to marriage and family affairs. According to Section 2 (d) of the act, "Family Court" means a family court established under section 3. Section 3 describes the establishment of Family Courts and says that the State Government after consultation with the High Court and by notification shall establish a Family Court for every area of the state consisting of a city or town whose population exceeds ten lakhs and for other areas in the state as it may deem necessary. Family courts are subordinate to the High Court, which has power to transfer the case from one family court to the other.
The matters which are dealt in the Family Court in India are matrimonial relief which includes nullity of marriage, judicial separation, divorce, restitution of conjugal rights, declaration as to the validity of marriage and matrimonial status of the person, property of the spouses or any of them and declaration as to the legitimacy of any person, guardianship of a person or custody of any minor, maintenance including the proceeding under the Cr. P.C.
In Hong Kong
- "Types Of Cases Tried And Role Of Court". family.laws.com. 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
- "Federal Court Basics". uscourts.gov. 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
- Ginsberg, Laura (2011). "Mediation". familycourt.us. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
- "Section of Family Law". americanbar.org. 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
- "Arranging child maintenance through the Child Support Agency or Child Maintenance Service". gov.uk. 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Agrawal, K.B. (2010). Family Law in India. Great Britain: Wolters Kluwer. p. 66. ISBN 978-90-411-3292-5.