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Frequently Asked Questions
 
  1. What is a Unified Family Court?
  2. What are the kinds of issues that would send a case to Family Court?
  3. How does Family Court operate?
  4. What kind of training do Family Court judges and staff receive?
Q.What is a Unified Family Court?
A.For families facing multiple legal issues, Family Court provides referrals to mediators, counselors, or classes that may help families reach their own acceptable resolutions without having a judge make the decision for them. The judge becomes the last resort if there is no resolution.

However, when the parties cannot reach a negotiated settlement and must go to a court hearing, Family Court arranges to have one judge hear every issue involving that family, whether it is a divorce, custody of a child, or a juvenile neglect, abuse or delinquency case.

North Carolina currently has Family Court programs in eight districts covering 16 counties. Those counties include Mecklenburg, Durham, Cumberland, Halifax, Anson, Richmond, Stanly, Union, New Hanover, Pender, Wayne, Lenoir, Greene, Catawba, Caldwell and Burke.  (Last updated on  09/04/2001 )
 
Q.What are the kinds of issues that would send a case to Family Court?
A.Cases assigned to Family Court include juvenile delinquency charges; neglect and abuse charges; termination of parental rights and adoptions; domestic violence; child custody and visitation rights; divorce and related financial issues like child support, alimony, or equitable distribution of property; abortion consent waivers, paternity; involuntary commitments and guardianships. (Last updated on  09/04/2001 )
 
Q.How does Family Court operate?
A.The local chief District Court judge in each site administers the Family Court. He or she is assisted by a Family Court administrator plus one case manager for every two Family Court judges. The case manager makes sure all issues involving one family are assigned to one judge and assures that cases comply with the Family Court time standards for disposing of the case.

In addition to making court arrangements, the case managers also coordinate the service programs for family members. Programs include whatever services the family members (adults and children) might need to reach a solution for their conflicts without having to have a trial. Those services include programs such as divorce education, mediation or drug counseling.

When a judge does need to hear matters involving that family and to issue orders in the case, the case managers will make sure that there is nothing in that case that will delay the prompt resolution of the issue before the court. The goal is to resolve all cases within one year of filing  (Last updated on  09/04/2001 )
 
Q.What kind of training do Family Court judges and staff receive?
A.All Family Court judges and staff initially receive specialized training in a variety of court, child, and family issues. These extensive training sessions include case management, child development and family dynamics, domestic violence, and community collaboration. The Family Court judges and staff also receive on-going, specialized training once cases are being sent to Family Court. An advisory committee consisting of judges, lawyers, family court administrators, mediation specialists, and service agency representatives guide the overall policies for Family Courts. (Last updated on  09/04/2001 )
 
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