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Welcome to the Family Law Practice Area of!

Join this site if you are a volunteer attorney, legal services advocate, law student or faculty representing low income and disadvantaged clients.


New Administrative Order for PAC program

Administrative Order 16-3, "Establishing the Program For Agreement and Cooperation" sets forth the protocol for the PAC program (parent education seminar and mediation in contested custody cases and divorce and legal separation cases when custody is a contested issue).  The order supersedes Administrative Order 07-06, which originally established PAC as a pilot program.  Administrative Order 16-3 is posted in the D.C. Superior Court and Family Court Practice folder and in the Custody folder.


Standing Orders in Domestic Relations Cases

Judge Robert Okun has issued a Standing Order (2016) applicable to cases in which all parties are represented by counsel.  It is anticipated that other judges may also issue Standing Orders.  This order is posted in the D.C. Superior Court and Family Court Practice.


DC Superior Court Institutes eFiling in the Paternity and Support Branch

The DC Superior Court is expanding its eFiling program to include Paternity & Support and Mental Health case types. For cases already initiated at the Court, filers will have the option of filing electronically in early December – a firm go-live date will be determined in the coming weeks. After approximately 60 days the voluntary period will end and all non-pro se filers will be required to submit filings electronically through the CaseFileXpress system.

The process for manually initiating a new case for these case types will not change. All case initiation will continue to take place at the Court. 

For more information about the CaseFileXpress system:

*  Visit the website for DC Superior Court filers:

*  Visit the CaseFileXpress training opportunities page:


New Domestic Relations Branch Case Management Plan

In December 2014, the court issued Administrative Order 14-23, "Revised Domestic Relations Branch Case Management Plan."  The case management plan is available in the Pro Bono Net library and on the court's website at


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 (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

With some exceptions, efiling is mandatory for parties with counsel.  Please note that case-initiating pleadings 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.

DC's Children's Law Center and the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center co-host this Practice Area with the generous assistance of DLA Piper.

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.

Join us!

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 Ta.L.  (December 8, 2016) (legal standard in adoptions; orders setting permanency goals in neglect cases are appealable)

Melbourne v. Taylor (November 16, 2016) (legal standard for name change of child over objection of one parent)

Ford v. Snowden (September 22, 2016) (assignment by TANF recipient-parent of child support to government does not preclude that parent from seeking child support over and above the TANF amount)

Duguma v. Ayalew (July 13, 2016) (trial court erred in not interviewing children as requested when there was no evidence other evidence relating to the children's wishes; although the decision as to whether to interview children in camera in custody disputes or determine their views in some other way rests with the sound discretion of the trial court, the case is remanded for the trial court to conduct a further inquiry into the children's custodial preferences.)

Littman v. Cacho (August 11, 2016) (reversal of trial court's termination of grandparent's court-ordered visitation rights)

In re M.V.H. (July 21, 2016) (affirmed trial court's granting adoption petition of foster parent and denying competing adoption petition to which parent consented)

Spellman v. Boland (July 7, 2016) (reversal of trial court's dismissal of petition seeking declaration of common-law marriage between petitioner and decedent for lack of personal jurisdiction)


Other news

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

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:

Pro Bono and legal aid attorney resources - Pro Bono Net

Geographic Host:

D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center