Family Courts: Expansion and Reform Required

Inundated with divorce applications and family conflicts, Mumbai’s only family court demonstrates a range of emotions and emphasizes the need for additional family courts to better address these complex and sensitive issues.

The Characteristics of Family Court Cases

  • Typically, divorce cases: Domestic violence, adultery, and dowry are common grounds for divorce, but absurd reasons can also be discovered among the instances.
  • Other concerns and counseling: Family courts handle not only divorce cases, but also child custody, alimony, and maintenance cases, with judges first recommending counseling to couples looking to end their marriages.
  • Emotional scenes: As individuals battle with the consequences of broken relationships, family courts observe heightened emotions such as anger, blame, heartbreak, relief, and joy.
  • Inequitable treatment: There are instances of inequality in the judicial system, with powerful individuals sometimes getting preferential treatment.
  • Empathy and the role of technology: During the COVID-19 pandemic, non-custodial parents attempted to keep in touch with their children via video conversations.
  • For example, the Bandra family court recently opened a lactation room to provide a safe haven for women with infants during child custody and divorce procedures.

Why were family tribunals established?

  • Family courts were created to provide a forum for the quick resolution of family-related disputes, with an emphasis on non-adversarial conflict resolution and conciliation.

What are the difficulties that Indian family courts face?

  • Backlog of cases: The backlog of cases is one of the most important challenges that family courts in India face. Family disputes are frequently complicated and time-consuming to resolve, resulting in lengthy waiting periods for litigants.
  • Inadequate infrastructure: Many family courts in India lack sufficient infrastructure, such as courtrooms, staff, and equipment, making efficient case management difficult.
  • Judges are in limited supply in family courts, which causes case dispositions to be delayed.
  • Low awareness: Many people in India are unaware of the role and functions of family courts, which frequently causes confusion and delays in dispute settlement.
  • Socio-cultural factors, such as patriarchy, gender discrimination, and dowry-related issues, offer major challenges to Indian family courts in many cases.
  • Family courts in India have limited jurisdiction and can only hear certain kinds of cases involving family disputes. As a consequence, some cases may be heard by multiple courts, causing delays and confusion.

The Need for Family Court Expansion and Reform: A Case Study of Mumbai’s Family Court

  • With over 5,000 divorce cases lingering in Mumbai’s family court, frivolous applications and counter-applications exacerbate the backlog and harm children.
  • The current seven judges at Mumbai’s family court are insufficient to handle the caseload, so the promise of 14 extra family courts in Mumbai, as well as one each in Thane and Navi Mumbai, is both necessary and welcome.

@the end

The family court in Mumbai demonstrates the complexities and emotional intensity of family conflicts, as well as the critical need for additional family courts to better address these sensitive issues. Increasing the number of family courts will help guarantee that more families receive the assistance and resolution they require during these difficult times.

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