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A blueprint to design a Unified Family Court should include:

  • A specialized court structure — either a separate court or a division or department of an existing court — established at the same level and receiving the same resources as a trial court of general jurisdiction.
  • Comprehensive subject-matter jurisdiction over the full range of family law cases, including juvenile delinquency and child welfare.
  • A case management/processing system involving early and hands-on contact with each family law case.
  • A judicial assignment system where the family appears before one judge for resolution of the entire case, or where a case management team coordinates the case.
  • An array of court-supplied or court-connected social services that meet the litigants' non-legal needs, including those related to family law problems.
  • A user-friendly court accessible to all family law litigants, including self-represented litigants.

Professor Barbara A. Babb