Helping Your Clients Outside of the Courtroom – Part 4
In Mecklenburg County, years ago, a Domestic Court Bar Committee was established to support the domestic bench, administration and local practitioners. Other counties have similar committees – some more formal than others. I personally have been a part of the Committee for Mecklenburg County, North Carolina’s 26th judicial district for almost a decade. The Committee examines, among other things, current rules of court, to include making changes when they become outdated, uniformity, scheduling of all court matters, progress and process of court-ordered mediation, the creation of particular forms (as prepared by members of the committee), updates and applicability of relevant case law, and more. The benefits for any Family Law attorney in forming and/or joining a local Domestic Court Bar Committee are huge. It helps keep them informed, helps them always know what the court is expecting, and in turn best advocate for their clients.
In counties that have a high number of domestic filings, a Domestic Court Bar Committee helps to create a better experience for anyone involved in family court matters. Domestic cases differ from other areas of the law and come with a unique set of challenges. Some require emergency action, some require temporary hearings pending a permanent trial, and then of course there is domestic violence. In Mecklenburg County, there is a one family / one judge assignment – giving that judge an opportunity to make decisions on all issues for the family from start to finish. Suppose one party obtains a Domestic Violence Order of Protection and the judge assigned to the case isn’t on the bench. How do you achieve what’s needed for your client and get back to the judge that knows their case the best? By being a part of the Domestic Court Bar Committee that drafts the rules governing circumstances like this, by being a part of the process, you can be a better help to your client in navigating what could otherwise be overwhelming circumstances during an already chaotic time for him or her.
In conclusion, as an attorney in a family law practice, it is important to remember the many different ways one can work to keep the focus on the family. Marital separation, no matter how amicable, still means that a family unit’s path has diverged sharply from its original intent. However, that does not mean the family has to be destroyed, and even in the highest conflict cases, there are ways to reduce the ultimate damage.