The 25th Judicial District (Catawba, Burke and Caldwell counties) has adopted a family court design in order to better serve the families, juveniles and the courts in this judicial district. Family court operates programs that help provide new ways to cope with and resolve domestic court conflicts.
A major goal of family court is to coordinate all the case management and service agency efforts for families in distress. Family courts offer a more consistent, efficient use of trial time for these cases. Select family court judges hear cases involving
• juvenile neglect and abuse charges
• termination of parental rights
• child custody and visitation rights
• divorce and related financial issues like child support, alimony, or equitable distribution of property
Under the family court concept, local "alternative dispute resolution" programs, such as mediation, are used frequently to resolve the issues without the court issuing a judgment or order. The case coordinators will arrange for mediation between the parties, or divorce education, or whatever services the family members (adults and children) might need to reach a resolution of the conflicts without having to proceed with an adversarial hearing in court. When a judge does need to hear matters involving that family and to issue orders in the case, the case coordinators will make sure that there is nothing in that case that will delay the prompt resolution of the issue before the court. In addition, frequent training sessions are provided for the family court judges and staff to increase their expertise in dealing with family matters.
The family court staff guides cases through the system and helps address the needs of families involved in juvenile and domestic court cases. Family court staff and court rules help our citizens by offering
• Parenting Apart programs
• juvenile court conferences
• free mediation of custody issues
• required mediation of financial issues
Fees for the mediation of financial issues may be waived for those unable to pay.