When first established in 1999, family courts followed the recommendation of the 1996 Commission Report to create a "forum that resolves family related issues in a manner that respects the rights of each individual family member, promotes the best interest of the family and helps families structure their own solutions." Since that time, family courts have become essential to the way courts resolve domestic and juvenile legal issues. In collaboration with the court community, dedicated family court judges and family court staff implement policies that promote prompt and just resolution of family law issues, including active case management to monitor established time standards and mandatory participation in alternative resolution methods to provide non-adversarial approaches to resolving family matters outside of court.
As a result, Family Courts are able to offer families timely, consistent and thoughtful outcomes to their legal issues. Between 1999 and 2007, the support for family courts from judges and the General Assembly resulted in the creation of family courts in thirteen judicial districts (22 counties), which comprises 45% of North Carolina's population. Data clearly show the benefits of family courts. In family court districts, the median age of cases is lower and the case disposition rate is higher. Applying best practices in family court districts has resulted in a more productive use of court time and state resources.