“The Family Divisions have emerged as an organic component of our Circuit Courts—not by fiat but from the collaborative participation of judges, legislators, practitioners and advocates. As a leading advocate, CFCC has been instrumental in the development of the unified family court system in Maryland and in the nation.” Robert M. Bell, Chief Judge, Maryland Court of Appeals, retired
Since its founding, the Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) has advocated for the creation of unified family courts as the most successful court structure to resolve family conflicts in a therapeutic, ecological and service-based manner.
A unified family court is a single court system with comprehensive subject-matter jurisdiction over all cases involving children and families, meaning the court has the power to hear cases such as divorce, custody, child support, marital property, alimony, adoption, paternity, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect and juvenile delinquency, among others. The court coordinates efforts to produce resolutions tailored to an individual family's legal, personal, emotional and social needs. The unified family court is an ideal structural and operational court model that can respond effectively to today’s complex family law matters.
CFCC provides in-depth consultation and hands-on assistance to state and local courts interested to implement a unified family court. A body of extensive written advocacy for unified family courts underpins CFCC’s work. Founding director, Professor Emerita Barbara Babb, and CFCC staff have played an instrumental role in transforming family justice in Maryland, helping to create and launch the Family Divisions and authoring Performance Standards and Measures for Maryland’s Family Divisions (Maryland Judiciary, 2002, with Jeffrey Kuhn). In addition, CFCC has provided services to jurisdictions in California, District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Utah.
CFCC’s Unified Family Court Connection, a twice-yearly newsletter, is the only publication in the nation devoted to the development and advancement of unified family courts. It circulates to nearly 4,000 judges, law school deans and professors, attorneys, legislators, services providers and nonprofit leaders serving families and children.
CFCC aims to solve real-world problems with lasting solutions through the application of appropriate legal theories and doctrines and provides a range of services to jurisdictions, judges, attorneys, court personnel and community leaders.