The Supreme Court created the Family Courts in 1935 to address legal matters regarding domestic situations and families. The mission of Family Court is: “to assist, to protect, and if possible, to restore families whose unity or well-being is threatened.” Their focus is firmly placed on keeping children safe and providing them the services and supports they need. Appeals from Family Court go directly to the Supreme Court.
The types of cases heard in Family Court are divorces, separations, annulments, alimony, child support, child custody, child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency, mentally disordered children, adoptions, child marriages, paternity and cases involving domestic violence.
Family Court has one Chief Judge, 11 Associate Justices, a General Magistrate, and eight Magistrates. Family Court employs more than 165 people in various departments, including court reporters, judges, magistrates, and support staff.
In Family Court, The Family Court Administrator is a vital position appointed by the Chief Judge. He or she performs many duties such as: “formulates procedures governing the administration of court services; collects the necessary statistics and prepares the annual report of the work of the court; provides supervision and consultation to the staff of the court concerning administration of court services, training and supervision of personnel, and fiscal management; as a clerk, is the keeper of the court seals and records, administers the court registry, collect all fees, fines and costs; and with the approval of the Chief Judge, appoints deputy clerks, assistant clerks, and clerical assistants as may be necessary.”
On average, Family, Courts see 15,857 new cases each year. Of that total, the majority (3,455) are for divorces, 3,646 are for child delinquency, 1,384 deal with abuse and neglect, 544 resolve violations, 491 are for adoptions/guardianships, 342 are for termination of parental rights and the rest are for other domestic issues.