District court judges designated as family court judges hear cases involving:
- Juvenile delinquency
- Abuse, neglect and dependency allegations
- Termination of parental rights
- Domestic violence
- Child custody and visitation rights
- Divorce and related financial issues like child support, alimony, and equitable distribution of property
Family court judges are experienced in dealing with family matters and receive specialized training to increase their expertise.
A major goal of family court is to consolidate and assign a family's legal issues before a single district court judge or team of judges. This allows family court judges to become familiar with and better address each family's issues, and keeps families from having to recount their history for multiple judges at each hearing.
Together, the dedicated family court judges and staff implement policies that promote prompt and just resolution of family law issues. Effective and intensive case management implemented by family courts includes:
- Court supervision of case progress
- A case assignment system
- Control of continuances
- Early dispositions and firm trial dates
Time standards vary by type of action but ideally family court issues will be resolved within a year of filing.
Specific, essential, and successful practices identified in the years of Family Court experience in N.C.
Annual Reports on North Carolina’s unified family court programs.
Session Law 1999-237 House Bill 168 Section 17.16 authorized the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) to establish an educational program for parents who are parties to a custody or visitation action and to administer any parent education though family court programs that were established by Section 25 of Session Law 1998-202.
Parent education programs make divorcing parents or parents living in separate homes aware of the needs of their children during and after the divorce process and when children are parented in separate homes. The video entitled The Most Important Job (Spanish version of video) provides guidance for parents from professionals as well as from the child's perspective.
Family court districts provide this type of education locally according to their local rules. The two most common models for parent education are:
- A one-hour parent information session presented by family court staff; and
- A four-hour parent education class taught by local professionals from the community who have contracted with the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts to provide this service.
Non-family court district courts may also offer parent education according to their own local rules.
The Most Important Job: Parenting Information for Families Living Apart (North Carolina Parent Education Handbook)
Companion handbook to the Parent Education video.
Existing Family Courts
- District 3A: Pitt
- District 5: New Hanover and Pender
- District 6: Bertie, Halifax, Hertford and Northampton
- District 8: Greene, Lenoir, and Wayne
- District 10: Wake
- District 12: Cumberland
- District 14: Durham
- District 16A: Anson, Richmond, and Scotland
- District 19B: Randolph
- District 19D: Moore and Hoke
- District 20A: Stanly and Montgomery
- District 20B: Union
- District 25: Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba
- District 26: Mecklenburg
- District 28: Buncombe
Family Court Advisory Commission (FCAC)
The Family Court Advisory Commission (FCAC) provides a coordinated approach to the development, management, and evolution of North Carolina’s Family Court Program. Members of the FCAC meet quarterly and are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina for a three-year term. Members include judges from both appellate courts, chief district court judges, clerks of superior court, family court administrators, custody mediators, guardians ad litem, domestic and juvenile attorneys, and various other court partners. The charge of the Commission is to:
- Advise the Chief Justice and the NCAOC Director on family court issues, including automation efforts;
- Set guidelines and standards of practice for all family court districts;
- Assure accountability for the family court program;
- Make recommendations about future legislative action, including needed statutory changes, budgetary suggestions, or recommendations for expansion of the program statewide;
- Review and make recommendations about the interrelationship between family courts and other court programs, such as guardian ad litem, child custody mediation, family drug courts, and family financial settlement; and
- Oversee the further development of the family court training curriculum.
Related Help Topics
Navigate the process for family-related cases, including custody issues, parental rights, child support, adoption, juvenile delinquency, and more.
How to get help, obtain a protective order, and relevant N.C. law.
Get information on how to become a guardian and what qualifications one must meet to obtain guardianship.
Find out how to obtain court records.