What is family court

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Family dispute? Take it to court
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What is family court is answered in cases divorce or custody

We all want happy family lives, but we know that there are all kinds of circumstances that can disrupt them. Many of these circumstances often cannot be effectively dealt with by family members or the other parties involved. For help in these matters, there are lawyers who practice family law and a place called family court where they can hopefully be resolved.

The family court is usually the busiest and most crowded location in a local courthouse. Thatís because it handles so many different kinds of cases.

Family courts deal with all aspects of marriage law, starting with defining the legal aspects of marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships. This is where couples deal with the problems that arise in a marriage, including domestic violence, spousal abuse, adoptions, child abductions and all aspects of the termination of a marriage, including the actual divorce or annulment, property settlements, determination of alimony and definition of parental responsibility after the divorce, including definition of child support, child custody and visitation rights.

Family courts also work to resolve disputes about paternity fraud and DNA testing.

Juvenile issues involving criminal activity by children under 18  are handled in family courts. Judges there can help the family and the other parties determine appropriate activities  that the juvenile should undertake as punishment, including formal apologies, financial restitution or community service. For more serious crimes, a judge may give probation, transfer custody of the child to another parent or guardian, asses fines, suspend drivers licenses, place the child in a substance abuse program or juvenile residence and in some cases, issue jail time.

Before going to family court, most people see a family law attorney first. These attorneys have special training not just in family law but also in negotiating skills and family counseling to help the parties attempt to resolve some issues outside the family court, thus avoiding stress and financial expense.

If the family issues involve domestic abuse of any kind Ė physical, verbal or psychological Ė you should contact the police or a local spousal or domestic violence program first. They can provide shelter and help apply to the family court to obtain a restraining order against the abuser.

Many states and local jurisdictions offer family services as part of family court. The staff of these offices may provide family services offices se services may provide negotiation and  mediation services to help resolve custody and financial issues. They may also direct parties to support services outside the court for additional help.

Some family law attorneys are offering collaborative law services, primarily in divorce cases, to help the parties reach amicable settlements without going to court.

Itís no wonder that family court is a crowded place. It would be nice to live in a world where we worked out our differences at the kitchen table but itís reassuring to know that when family matters become serious, there are courts, attorneys and services available to protect your rights, resolve your disputes and help make families whole again.

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