US state to ‘streamline’ family court cases

family law

Lawmakers in the US state of Oklahoma have approved a bill which would allow a single judge to oversee all hearings relating to individual families.

If signed into law, the measures outlined in House Bill 1121 would permit district and municipal courts to streamline domestic cases, reducing the number of days the members of troubled families need attend court by consolidating related hearings into single court sessions overseen by one appointed judge. These sessions would tackle different aspects of divorce and separation, non-criminal domestic violence allegations, and arrangements for any children of the family. The latter issue is still commonly referred to as ‘child custody’ in the United States.

More serious criminal cases of domestic violence however would be excluded from the consolidated hearings.

Republic representative Ryan Martinez said the scheme would help individual family court judges gain a deeper undertanding of each family’s particular problems. He stressed however, that it would be voluntary.

“This doesn’t force anybody to do it. It just allows if there are funds available. This is in its infancy, and I don’t deny that.”

The scheme was inspired by a pilot programme in Tulsa County, he explained, where a single domestic violence court has been established.

The bill is now awaiting ratification by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin.

Photo of the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City by taylorandayumi via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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1 comment

Stitchedup - May 17, 2017 at 9:54am

In principle this appears to be a good move. I noted during my separation there appeared to be no holistic approach to family law. In one hearing the ex could be claiming a share of assets and constructive trusts etc because we had joint bank accounts and I allowed her access to my every penny; in another hearing she could portray me as mean. controlling and abusive. In other words the story changes according to the outcome being sought. If one judge overlooked all aspects of our separation there’s a chance he/she will have noticed inconsistencies in her portrayal of me as a person e.g. Generous when seeking a share of assets, but mean and controlling when seeking occupation of the family home.

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