How a Unified Family Court System Tends to Work

You may have heard the term "unified court system" before, but you may be left wondering what that actually means. Many states have adopted a unified courts system, so hearing that term as well as "unified family court" is not uncommon. However, you might be wondering what this means for the courts and for you. Here are a few things to know about a unified family court system.

What is a Unified Court System?

A unified court system is a state judicial system wherein all courts within the state are ordered in a way that allows them to better execute uniformed justice throughout the state. The goal of this type of structure is to create better administration and organization within all of the judicial systems in a state. A unified court system is designed to help solve problems that arise when courts are separated, particularly on the local level. Non-unified court systems can be left without the right resources to administer fully informed decisions while unified court systems have more resources to work with. One important resource is having access to more information. Within a unified court system, there tends to be a single database of records that is used by all courts within the state system. This has been made much easier through the help of the internet because the records can be accessed remotely, eliminating the need to actually go to the court where the records are held. Also in a unified court system, judges tend to be specially trained in a particular subject matter and are appointed based on their abilities. With more access to information from courts across the whole state plus the specialized training within their specific field, judges tend to be better able to make more effective, informed rulings.

How Does a Unified Family Court System Tend to Work?

When families go to court to settle a divorce, there are often several issues that must be addressed. When a family court is not unified, families may find themselves trying to resolve their issues in several different court systems in front of various judges. This can be difficult for families to navigate as well as for the courts to make educated rulings on each case. In response, a unified family court system is coordinated to focus on all child and family-related matters. These tend to include topics such as child custody, child support, divorce, domestic abuse, juvenile delinquency, and more. In a unified family court, therapeutic and preventative justice is common. Therapeutic justice involves taking a more compassionate approach to a case. It calls for gaining a better understanding of the needs of the individual by all professionals involved in order to get to the heart of the issue and to find a fitting resolution. Being able to offer this type of justice in a unified family court system tends to call for help from a variety of legal and mental health professionals such as mediators, parenting coordinators, or therapists. These types of professionals help the court to promote dispute resolution in a friendly, non-adversarial environment and seek to provide families with resolutions that prevent them from encountering the same issues over and over again. 

Within a unified family court system, the personnel working within the court tend to be more properly trained to handle sensitive family and child-related matters. These types of cases can be highly emotional, and attending to the needs of a heavy caseload of distressed families can be a lot to handle if not trained for it. Some of these cases tend to call for a certain matter of urgency, such as cases concerning restraining orders, temporary child custody orders, etc. When a court's docket isn't filled with return cases or excessive litigation, it can attend to these emergency matters with haste. Also, family courts see many pro se litigants, meaning that these individuals proceed without legal counsel such as an attorney. Without proper guidance, pro se litigants tend to have a seriously difficult time navigating the system. With several states turning to a unified family court system while also seeing a large number of pro se litigants, some courts have taken measures to help these individuals get the information and procedural assistance to navigate their case. By helping pro se individuals in such a way, unified family courts can also gain a better understanding of the needs of this demographic and improve legal integrity within the system. 

Unified family courts tend to work in such a way the better facilitates the needs of families of any demographic. The systems used by these courts to help families reach resolutions that are personalized to the individual family and work towards preventing issues from coming back again. When courts are able to address the precise needs within a family, they can offer a ruling that best fits the particular situation and works to keep the family from returning to court. 

When courts have access to accurate and complete information, they are better able to make effective rulings. Families who communicate using the OurFamilyWizard® website help courts obtain this kind of detailed information in regards to their activity and communication. OFW® is built with tools to thoroughly document parent communication in regards to topics such as the family schedule, shared expenses and reimbursements, sharing vital information, and much more. The website captures all parent activity within the website so that courts can see how parents are communicating and fulfilling their responsibilities. Learn more about how OFW® can help family courts to obtain complete records of co-parent communication.