Civil Justice - Focus on Family Law
America has a civil justice gap.
The difference between the number of people who need legal services for civil issues and the few who receive help of any kind is big and growing bigger. In 2018, family and housing issues constituted six out of every ten problems (31 percent and 29 percent, respectively) addressed by the legal services organizations funded by the Legal Services Corporation. Three-fourths of the clients were women.
The most common and pressing family issues are
- child support,
- child custody, and
- protection from abusive relationships, most often violence and sexual assault by an adult against another adult or a child, but sometimes psychological or financial abuse of vulnerable adults as well.
A publication issued by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Civil Justice for All, examines the civil justice gap and makes recommendations to increase access to legal aid, including improvements that would be especially helpful in matters related to family law including:
- New civil justice advocates trained to assist in family matters
- More collaboration between lawyers and other professions, including doctors and social workers
- The unbundling of legal services
- The creation of self-help centers in public locations, like community centers and libraries
Read the full report with its seven overall recommendations here.
Specific recommendations and case studies at the intersection of family law and civil justice are here.
Learn about the Making Justice Accessible initiative here.
Civil Justice for All - Family Law Committee
Tonya L. Brito (Cochair)
Jefferson Burrus-Bascom, Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School
Lance Liebman (Cochair)
William S. Beinecke Professor of Law Emeritus and Dean Emeritus, Columbia Law School
Rachel L. Braunstein
Managing Policy Attorney, Her Justice
Professor of Law, The Catholic University of America
Justice, Supreme Court of California
Sara S. Greene
Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law
Daniel L. Hatcher
Professor of Law, Saul Ewing Civil Advocacy Clinic, University of Baltimore
Bonnie Rose Hough
Managing Attorney, Center for Families, Children & the Courts, Judicial Council of California
Shani M. King
Professor; Director, Center on Children and Families, Levin College of Law
Lora J. Livingston
Presiding Judge, 261st District Court
Co-Dean, Professor of Law, Alfred Slocum Scholar, Rutgers Law-Newark
Chief Justice, Vermont Supreme Court
Jessica Dixon Weaver
Associate Professor of Law, SMU Dedman School of Law