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

Stacy Brustin
Professor of Law, The Catholic University of America

Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar
Justice, Supreme Court of California
Academy Member

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

David Lopez
Co-Dean, Professor of Law, Alfred Slocum Scholar, Rutgers Law-Newark

Paul Reiber
Chief Justice, Vermont Supreme Court

Jessica Dixon Weaver
Associate Professor of Law, SMU Dedman School of Law

The report and recommendations are online.