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Pennsylvania city facing backlog of child custody cases

The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is receiving some reinforcements from other judicial sections because of a backlog of family law cases. Officials in Pennsylvania say that the massive number of child custody cases making their way through the courts right now warrant additional assistance from other jurisdiction. Reports show that several judges will be pulled from other duties in order to attend to the family court issues.

Court officials say that a lack of resources is straining the family court's ability to expedite child custody hearings. A large population suffering from high-poverty situations is also contributing to the difficulties faced by these family courts. The Philadelphia courts also have to evaluate more parents with extensive criminal histories to determine whether they would be fit for physical custody.

Leaders say they are simply trying to stem the tide of backlogged child custody cases that have accumulated because of budget cuts. These financial challenges have limited the available services that used to be offered to parents throughout the area. Now, those parents do not have the same amount of access to education about the child custody process, and mediation options are not as widely available.

Family attorneys throughout the area, including those from the Philadelphia Bar Association Family Law Section, have stepped up to help provide these educational services, allowing parents and guardians to learn more about their legal rights. This situation shows the diverse services that family attorneys can offer during child custody negotiations; they can provide additional information about the benefits of mediation and educate clients about the law itself while also providing legal representation. Attorneys know that family law cases are so much more than just business -- they affect people's lives and families. That is why these cases deserve appropriate resources, no matter the jurisdiction in which they are filed.

Source: Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, "First Judicial District to Reassign Judges to Address Family Court Backlog" No author given, Apr. 14, 2014

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