University of Denver

The Modern Family Court Judge: Knowledge, Qualities & Skills for Success

Director of Special Projects

Family court judges make significant decisions affecting our nation's families, yet these judges are often undervalued—even by their peers on the bench. And, there is insufficient acknowledgement of the broad expertise required to do the job well. This publication aims to change this by drawing attention to the special knowledge, qualities, and skills that these judges need to be successful—and hopefully reprioritizing and revaluing their role in the legal system.

Twenty-seven requisite skills, qualities, and areas of knowledge are discussed in the report, including: knowledge of child development and family dynamics; understanding of domestic violence, child maltreatment, substance abuse and addiction, and mental health issues; cultural competence and understanding one's own biases; communication that emphasizes clarity and brevity; honed listening skills; and exercising leadership from the bench.