University of Denver

The Landscape of Domestic Relations Cases in State Courts

Family Justice Initiative
Director of Special Projects

A first of its kind study, this report brings together national data from family cases that confirms what we have long known at IAALS: family courts must do more to focus on problem solving rather than rely on the traditional structure framed around an adversarial approach.

The report was released by the National Center for State Courts Family Justice Initiative, in partnership with IAALS.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Today’s families are less likely to include a married couple, and most litigants don’t hire an attorney.
  • Contested and uncontested cases in the study took about the same amount of time.
  • One in four family court cases reopen, and reopened cases are more likely to involve minor children.
  • Family court data is inadequate and makes it difficult to manage cases.