Legal Dictionary

family court

Legal Definition of family court

Related terms

Definition of family court

Further reading

A family court is a court convened to decide matters and make orders in relation to family law, such as custody of children. In common-law jurisdictions "family courts" are statutory creations primarily dealing with equitable matters devolved from a court of inherent jurisdiction, such as a superior court.

History of the family court

The family court is a branch of the Superior Court justice system and is created under s.21.1 of the Courts of Justice Act. Recently, some have questioned the validity of family court.

Case types

Case types may include:

  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Visitation rights
  • Restraining orders
  • Emancipation of minors

Does not include Divorce

Family court in the United Kingdom

Cases involving children are primarily dealt with under The Children Act 1989, amongst other statutes. Two types of scenario are covered by The Children Act 1989: private law cases, where the applicant and respondent are usually the child's parents; and public law cases, where the applicant is the local authority and the parents are usually respondents. There is much debate at present over whether the manner in which the law is administered generally leads to outcomes that are beneficial to the families concerned. In this context, see fathers' rights. Cases involving divorce and the division of assets are primarily dealt with under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Cases involving domestic violence are primarily dealt with under Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996.


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1.     landed property
2.     lex fori
3.     status quo
4.     ownership
5.     lex loci delicti commissi
6.     lex situs
7.     sodomy
8.     lex causae
9.     unjustified
10.     AORO