Welcome to the Family Law Practice Area of probono.net/dc!
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New Domestic Relations Branch Case Management Plan
On December 31, 2014, Chief Judge of the D.C. Superior Court Lee Satterfield signed Administrative Order 14-23 which put into effect a new case management plan for the Domestic Relations Branch of the D.C. Superior Court’s Family Court. Attorneys handling matters within the Domestic Relations Branch should familiarize themselves with the practices and procedures outlined within the plan.
D.C. Superior Court Institutes eFiling in the Neglect and Abuse, Juvenile, and Domestic Relations Branches of the Family Court.
Click here for the full text of the Administrative Order. The CaseFileXpress User Manual is available here, and training slides for using e-filing are available here.
You can register for e-filing at www.casefilexpress.com (click on login button and select DC New Version). For assistance with e-filing, you can contact a customer service representative 24/7 at their toll-free number 877-433-4533 or by email during business hours at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that initial complaints must still be filed in person at the Central Intake Center, Room JM-520 (JM level), D.C. Superior Court, 500 Indiana Ave., NW.
No greater legal need exists in D.C. than for lawyers to represent those parents, third party caregivers, and immigrants attempting to stabilize and protect their families. And there is possibly no greater professional satisfaction than for a lawyer to make a difference in the life of a family in crisis.
The Family Law Practice Area provides pro bono, court-appointed and legal services lawyers with the tools necessary to be effective advocates in adoption, custody, divorce, support, and abuse and neglect matters. Volunteer opportunities are available through the Co-Host organizations, as well as many other legal service agencies in D.C. Most organizations provide training and support (including mentoring), and some provide malpractice insurance.
You can join the Family Law Practice Area if you provide pro bono representation through one of the Co-Host organizations or through one of the other legal service agencies in D.C. Legal service practitioners are also encouraged to join. Click here to join this area.
New Court of Appeals cases
Note: if the links are broken, visit the Opinions page on the D.C. Court of Appeals website.
In re Petition of S.L.G and S.E.G. (March 5, 2015) (interpretation of standard for adoption/termination of parental rights and necessary findings)
Salvaterra v. Ramirez (December 15, 2014) (intepretation of stay-away and move-out remedies in the Intra-family Offenses Act)
J.O. v. O.E. (October 2, 2014) (civil protection order reversed)
Saxon v. Zirkle (August 14, 2014) (award of attorney's fees to pro bono organization (guardian ad litem) as Rule 11 sanction against a party upheld)
S.M. v. R.M. (June 12, 2014) (denial of parent's motion to modify in a third-party custody case reversed; interpretation of "parental presumption" in the context of consent custody proceedings and subsequent motion to modify)
Ruffin v. Roberts (April 24, 2014) (parent v. parent custody case affirmed; parent consented to entry of order; court did not have authority to order third-party visitation)
In re D.M. (March 13, 2014) (motion to terminate parental rights reversed; insufficient indication that trial court gave "weighty consideration" to parent's proposed custodial arrangement)
In re K. M (September 12, 2013) (neglect adjudication reversed; insufficient evidence of present or future harm to child as a result of parent's mental health)
In re C.G.H. (September 5, 2013) (adoption of child meets requirement of Family Court involvement for purposes of special immigrant juvenile status)
In re Ta. L. (August 22, 2013) (adoption reversed; trial court did not give "weighty consideration" to parent's choice of caregiver; full formal evidentiary hearing not required for setting of permanency goal)
D.C. Superior Court has issued Administrative Order 14-01 (January 29, 2014) adopting practice standards for guardians ad litem in custody cases. The standards can be accessed at http://www.dccourts.gov/internet/legal/dcscadminorders.jsf.
D.C. and Maryland have entered into a border agreement regarding the placement by D.C. in Maryland of children in neglect cases pursuant to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. The agreement can be found in the Abuse and Neglect - Statutes, rules and regulations -D.C. statutes - Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children folder.
"CFSA Resource Directory - a Guide for Social Workers, Youth and Families" (2013) is a guide to internal resources at CFSA. The resource directory, together with new organizational charts for CFSA, can be found in the Abuse and Neglect - Child and Family Services Agency folder.
Domestic Violence Case Digest, updated January 2013, covering topics such as civil protection orders, criminal contempt, divorce and domestic violence, etc. now posted in the NEW Domestic Violence folder here.
The Military Parents' Child Custody and Visitation Rights Act of 2012 enacts D.C. § 16-914.02, addressing issues in connection with deploying parents.
The Civil Marriage Dissolution Equality Act of 2012 allows a same-sex spouse to obtain a divorce in D.C. without either spouse being a residence if neither spouse resides in a jurisdiction in which same-sex spouses can obtain a divorce.
The Domestic Violence Clerk's office and the Domestic Violence Intake Unit have moved. The clerk's office is now in Room 4510 and the DVIC is in Room 4550.
D.C. Superior Court has issued Administrative Order 11-17 regarding possession and use of electronic devices in courtrooms. The order is posted on the court's website here.
New D.C. regulations about protecting foster children from identity theft are posted in the Abuse and Neglect - Statutes, rules, regulations folder.
D.C. Superior Court Administrative Orders 11-13 and 11-14, "Procedures for Adjudicating Applications to Amend Birth Certificates" and "Procedures for Adjudicating Applications for Change of Name" were issued on August 4, 2011. Cases involving minors or cases in which the applicant is involved in a pending Family Court case are to be filed in or assigned to Family Court. The full text of Admninistrative Order 11-13 is available here and Administrative Order 11-14 is available here.
D.C. Superior Court Administrative Order 11-15, "Procedures for Stand-in Attorneys Representing Parents in Family Treatment Court," was issued August 4, 2011. A copy of the Administrative Order is posted in the appropriate folders in the Family Law Library and is posted on the court's website here.
Rule Promulgation Order 11-4, issued on July 28, 2011, amends several of the court's General Family rules. The order and rules are posted in the appropriate folders in the Family Law Library, and is posted on the court's website here.
Fact sheets on several recent changes to D.C. law are available in the Abuse and Neglect - Practice materials folder. The fact sheets address new laws about post-adoption contact, access to neglect and juvenile records, and school stability for foster children.
D.C. Law 18-312, effective March 12, 2011, amends the neglect statute regarding school stability for foster children. The law includes provisions creating a presumption in favor of the child attending the school the child was enrolled in prior to his/her removal and placement in shelter care or foster care. The new presumption is particularly strong at the shelter care stage, but it applies throughout a case. To see the legislation on the D.C. Council website, click here.
What's in the Library
Resources in the Family Law Practice Area library include training materials, links to relevant statutes, community resources, sample pleadings and important contact information in the following family law areas: