According to the Raleigh News and Observer: “Against the objections of Republicans leaders, other changes to the budget included: restoring family court, which was eliminated in the House budget…”
The family court system, which operates in only 13 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, was on track to be completely defunded in the newest draft of the state budget, but a last minute amendment saved the program. However, family court’s statewide budget allocation has been cut significantly from $2.9 million to $1.9 million for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, leaving many to wonder about how the program can continue to effectively and efficiently move domestic cases through the litigation process.
In a new draft of the state budget for 2014-2015, the North Carolina House of Representatives has proposed cutting nearly $3 million allocated for family court districts across the state (see page 124). If this budget passes, what would this mean? It could mean a delay (or outright denial) of justice for people litigating their divorce, child custody, property division, and other family-related cases.
Looking at the statistics that prove the efficiency of family courts, only 18.8% of cases in family court districts lasted longer than a year, compared to 51.0% of cases in non-family court districts. The median age of pending cases was 116 days for family court districts, while the median age for cases in non-family court districts was 390 days. In short, the approval of this budget could prove disastrous to litigants across North Carolina, especially since the majority of family court cases involve unrepresented parties.
We’ve previously posted articles about the growing trend of gray divorce, or getting divorced later in life. Much has been written about how people begin the process of disentangling themselves from their spouse after marriages of over 30, 40, or even 50 years and above, especially in terms of how to divide property after such long marriages. What hasn’t been written about in detail is the effect that gray divorce has on the family members – the adult children and grandchildren – of older spouses going through a separation or divorce. Check out this article for more insight on this issue.