The purpose and aim of establishing the Family Courts is to protect and preserve the institution of marriage and to promote the welfare of children and provide for settlement of disputes by conciliation. The Family Courts Act extends to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir. Every State Government after consultation with the High Court establishes in every area in the state, a Family Court. One or more judges head it and preference is given to women judges.
The family Court shall make an endeavor to assist and persuade the parties in arriving at a settlement. If the Court feels that there is a reasonable possibility of a settlement the Court may adjourn the proceedings for such period as it thinks fit to enable attempts to be made to arrive at a settlement.
The Family Court is essentially a specialist court in which family matters are decided. These range from adoption, contact with and residence of children and the taking of children into care. Although it is still a court environment, it is less formal than other types of courts.
It is very unlikely that your case will be dealt with at the first hearing. You are likely to have to go back to the Family Court on two or more occasions. At the first hearing, the court may make directions as to the filing of statements of case, or evidence, and give deadlines for when these things need to be filed. All family court proceedings are currently held in private, and will not be publicly reported – although there are changes on the way that will allow accredited journalists to be present in court hearings and report on them. It is not possible, in these circumstances, for the media to name the parties or anyone involved in the case.
You should always attend Family Court hearings unless you have specifically been excused from doing so, e.g. if it is simply a directions hearing that both solicitors need to attend. You can always take a Friend or relative along with you to help you, but you must obtain the permission of the court to do this. It is worth remembering, however, that if the friend or relative that you bring to court is also a witness in your case, they will not be able to sit in on the proceedings until after they have given evidence.
Family cases are a type of civil case, but they generally involve issues between or concerning spouses, parents, and children. Family courts handle a wide variety of cases involving domestic matters. The most common issues handled at family court include:
- Marriage Dissolution.
- Paternity and Child Custody.
- Protection Orders Against Domestic Violence.
- Name Changes.
- Termination of Parental Rights and Adoptions.
- Juvenile Matters.
- Emancipation and Approval of Underage Marriages.
It is evident that the setting up of these family courts was a dynamic step so far as reducing the backlog and disposing off cases while ensuring that there is an effective delivery of justice goes. However, as aforementioned, there are still matters of concern which plague these courts. The issues relating to the functioning of these courts is to be seen in total, as quoted in the examples relating to the procedural as well as substantive aspects of the problems. There are many controversial and debatable issues such as engaging a lawyer due to the specific provisions of the Family Courts Act.
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