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The 10 Cs: core components of Florida’s family court


Chief judge leadership: support of continued family court improvements to further promote public trust and confidence, and assignment of an administrative judge to oversee and coordinate the family court as set out in the four Supreme Court of Florida opinions

“To the extent practical, the chief judge shall assign only one administrative judge to supervise the family court.” Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.215(b)(5).

 

Committed and engaged judges, magistrates, hearing officers: openness to improving court processes and a desire to learn about the issues facing children and families

“…it is also important that the judges assigned to this division have a commitment to this important judicial responsibility and a willingness to participate in education and training programs…” In Re: Report of the Commission on Family Courts, 588 So. 2d 586 (Fla. 1991).

 

Comprehensive jurisdiction: a broad array of case types as defined in the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration

“…broad jurisdiction over all problems involving a single family is one of the key components of a unified court.” In Re: Report of the Family Court Steering Committee, 794 So. 2d 518 (Fla. 2001).

 

Canons, law, rules: interpretation and application of the laws

“The primary role of the judge is to enforce and uphold the rule of law.” In Re: Report of the Family Court Steering Committee, 794 So. 2d 518, 524 (Fla. 2001).

 

Court case management: case differentiation, coordination of related cases, and case monitoring

“Case differentiation means that a case should be evaluated at the outset to determine the appropriate resources for that case and the appropriate way to handle that case. Case coordination requires that the judicial system identify all cases involving that family. Case monitoring requires a continued attention to the needs of the children and family as the case moves through the judicial system so that the appropriate court resources are made available and linkages to appropriate community resources are facilitated.” In Re: Report of the Family Court Steering Committee, 794 So. 2d 518, 529 (Fla. 2001).

 

Continuum of self-help services: access to family court for self-represented litigants, through the provision of information, procedural guidance, and referrals for legal services

“Effective front-end management allows for litigants to become educated about the system and is crucial to the effective utilization and coordination of both community services and court resources.” In Re: Report of the Family Court Steering Committee, 794 So. 2d 518 (Fla. 2001).

 

Conciliatory approach: nonadversarial approaches and processes

“Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) - Offering alternatives to reduce the trauma of traditional adversarial litigation process.” In Re: Report of the Family Court Steering Committee, 794 So. 2d 518, 529 (Fla. 2001)(referring to one of the Essential Elements endorsed by the Florida Supreme Court).

 

Comprehensive information: complete picture of the child and family to include both legal issues and underlying problems

“[R]ecognition of the family’s interrelated legal and nonlegal problems will produce a result that improves the family’s functioning, empowers families to resolve their own disputes, and assists families in resolving problems without additional emotional trauma.” In Re: Report of the Family Court Steering Committee, 794 So. 2d 518, 529 (Fla. 2001) (referring to one of the Family Court Guiding Principles endorsed by Florida Supreme Court).

“[I]n the family court, it is not always the legal issue itself that is time-consuming or complex, but rather it is often the underlying issues such as drug abuse, domestic violence, and family dysfunction that may cause the legal dispute to become time-consuming and complicated. Id. at 524.

 

Collaboration: court staff, judges, members of the bar, social service providers, and local community leaders to support and advise the family court

“The success of any family court is dependent upon effective communication among all stakeholders both in the judicial system and in the community.” In Re: Report of the Family Court Steering Committee, 794 So. 2d 518, 534 (Fla. 2001). “Only by open communication among court staff, judges, attorneys, social service providers, and other community leaders will the role and the goal of the family court truly be realized.” Id.

 

Community-based resources: knowledge of the array of community services available to meet the needs of the family

“The trial courts must … establish necessary linkages with community-based resources, including substance abuse treatment counseling, specialized training and parenting course, and social services.” In Re: Report of the Commission on Family Courts, 633 So. 2d 14 (Fla. 1994).