Family court was originally created to be a Court of Equity convened to decide matters and make orders in relation to family law, such as custody of children and could disregard certain legal requirements as long as the petitioner/plaintiff came into court with “clean hands” and the request was reasonable, “quantum meruit”. Changes in laws and rules have made this distinction superfluous.
Family courts hear all cases that relate to familial and domestic relationships. Each state and each country has a different system utilized to address family law cases including decisions regarding divorce cases.
In the United States
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. 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 presided over by a single judge without a jury, except in the State of Texas, where parents have a right to a jury, instead of a judge; a right which is almost always invariably waived in favor of settlement instead of further litigation
In England and Wales
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 England, 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).
Abusive partners are sometimes allowed to cross examine their victims in extremely stressful ways. Peter Kyle described it as “abuse and brutalisation” by the legal system of women. “Mothers need the protection of the law and they need to know in advance that the system is there to look out and protect their interests,” Kyle said. “It only takes one woman to be placed in a situation where she can be legally be asked by the man who has violently abused her; ‘When did you last have sex?’. That only has to happen once to realise that the system is corrupted and domestic abuse is going on in our system in the courtroom.” This is to change.
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.
- "Arranging child maintenance through the Child Support Agency or Child Maintenance Service". gov.uk. 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Revealed: how family courts allow abusers to torment their victims The Guardian
- Courts to ban cross-examination of victims by abusers
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2014-03-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)