When Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear called a special session this month of legislative redistricting, he left open the possibility that judicial districts could be addressed, as well.
The Kentucky Supreme Court last year certified the need for two family court judgeships in Daviess county. Chief Justice John Minton says family court positions have not made it into the budget in previous sessions.
"The money has not been allocated," he said. "The budgets have been so strained the last few years that expansions of any sort has been put on hold. I’ve not met resistance from any legislatures in terms of need; it’s just a matter of the funding."
Seventy-one of Kentucky’s 120 counties have family courts. In counties that don’t, circuit judges hear family cases regarding adoption, paternity, and domestic violence, among other issues.
Justice Minton believes families are better served having judges who specialize in family law. Minton doubts lawmakers will take up family court in the special session, but he hopes to see some action in the 2014 regular session.
Daviess County has the largest caseload of any county in Kentucky without a family court. The Kentucky Supreme Court last year certified the need for two family court positions in Daviess County, but budget constraints delayed any action.
In places without family courts, circuit judges hear family matters such as adoption, paternity, and domestic violence. Chief Justice John Minton says there are advantages to having judges who specialize in family law.
"The family court concept was that there would be one judge involving one family, so that the case could all be handled – all the family’s needs could be handled in one court with one judge," he said.
Justice Minton doubts family court will come up in the short, five-day session.