This article is a basic introduction to the working of family courts in India and the key elements that are involved in its running including duties of the court, appeal mechanism, and limitation period.
The purpose and aim of establishing the Family Courts is to protect and preserve the institution of marriage and to promote the welfare of children and provide for settlement of disputes by conciliation. The Family Courts Act extends to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir.
Every State Government, after consultation with the High Court, establishes in every area in the state, a Family Court. One or more judges head it and preference is given to women judges.
The Family Courts are empowered to deal with the following matters:
Family Courts also have jurisdiction exercisable by a Magistrate of the 1st class relating to an order for maintenance of wife, children and parents under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The family Court shall make an endeavor to assist and persuade the parties in arriving at a settlement.
If the Court feels that there is a reasonable possibility of a settlement, the Court may adjourn the proceedings for such period as it thinks fit to enable attempts to be made to arrive at a settlement.
Family Court shall be deemed to be a civil Court (except for proceedings relating to Maintenance of wives, children and parents relating to the Code of Criminal Procedure).
No party shall be entitled as a right to be represented in a Family Court by a legal practitioner. The parties to the proceedings have to appear themselves and put forward their case.
The Court shall record what the witness deposes and the memorandum shall be signed and form a part of a record. The Court may, on the application of any of the parties, summon and examine any such person as to the facts contained in the affidavit.
An appeal lies to the High Court from every judgement or order passed by the Family Court. However, no appeal lies against a decree or order passed by the Family Court with the consent of the parties under proceedings relating to maintenance of wives, children and parents under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
An appeal to the High Court from every judgement or order not being an interlocutory order passed by the Family Court has to be filed within 30 days.
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