The Family Courts Act: An Overview

The 59th Law Commission Report from 1974 recommended that family courts be established by states and that judicial officers be chosen based on expertise. Additionally, the Committee on the Status of Women proposed that family conflicts be handled differently than regular civil processes in 1975. To implement a separate procedure for family law issues, the government amended the Code of Civil Procedure in 1976, although this reform had little impact.

Finally, many women's organizations and NGOs involved in family welfare made an effort to put pressure on the government to establish special tribunals for quick trials in family-related conflicts. The Family Court Act of 1984 was passed as a result of this drawn-out procedure.

What is Family Court?

Section 3 of this legislation states that the state government must create a family court in every territory of the state with a population of greater than 1 million people or anywhere it deems necessary, after consulting with the High Court. Family courts are not a new concept, rather they do exist in some western nations. India's judiciary is already overburdened with cases that have been lingering for years. Therefore, it was imperative that family issues—including divorce and child custody—be considered as social-therapeutic issues.


The first person to stress the significance of creating Family Courts was the late Smt. Durgabai Deshmukh. After visiting China in 1953 to see the operation of family courts, Smt. Deshmukh had the chance to debate the topic with numerous judges and legal professionals. She subsequently proposed to Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru that family courts be established in India. Numerous women's organizations, other groups, and individuals have repeatedly called for the creation of family courts to settle family disputes, emphasizing negotiation and attaining socially desirable results while doing away with strict respect to standards of procedure and evidence.


Major provisions are

  • On September 14, 1984, the Family Courts Act of 1984 came into effect.

  • The primary goal of the act was to establish family courts for the swift and secure resolution of conflicts that arise in family, marriage, and related affairs.

  • It has 23 sections and 6 chapters.

  • For this court to have the required knowledge to handle these issues quickly, the Act calls for the establishment of a specialised court that will only deal with family problems.

Appointments of Judges

By Section 4 of the Family Courts Act of 1984, rules governing judge appointments in the Family Court are addressed. After consultation with the High Court, the state government may choose one or more individuals to serve as Family Court judges. The state government may also select any judge as the Principal Judge and any other judge as the Additional Principal Judge after conferring with the High Court.

The following criteria must be met to be appointed as a judge of the Family Court, which is also listed in this section

  • He must have held a position requiring specialized legal knowledge in the Center or a State for at least seven years in India. He must also have held the position of a member of a tribunal.

  • He must have spent at least seven years as an advocate for the High Court or at least two courts of succession.

  • He must meet the requirements set by the Central government following consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

  • He couldn't have been older than 62 years old.


The family courts now have the authority and jurisdiction that the District Court or Subordinate Civil Courts formerly exercised in their lawsuits and processes, according to Section 7 of this Act. The following are the types of lawsuits and proceedings described in this section's explanation

  • A lawsuit or other legal action to have the parties' marriage between them dissolved, withered, or for the restoration of their sexual rights.

  • A lawsuit or other legal action to ascertain someone's marital status or marriage's legality.

  • A lawsuit or other legal action in connection with a marriage-related property dispute.

  • An action or case brought about by a marriage that seeks an order or injunction.

  • A legal action or proceeding to confirm someone's eligibility

  • A maintenance action or process

  • A lawsuit or action for the appointment of a guardian for someone or the custody of a minor.

According to Section 7(2), the family courts also have the authority to exercise any other jurisdiction that may be provided for by another statute, as well as the jurisdiction that is exercised by a Magistrate of the First Class under Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Court's responsibility to use reasonable endeavors to mediate between the parties

According to Section 9 of this legislation, the family court must work to foster the parties' reconciliation. According to Section 9(1), the family court must attempt to persuade the parties to resolve their dispute through negotiation in every action or case. To this end, the family court may follow the norms established by the High Court or any other rules or procedures it deems appropriate. By Section 9(2), the court may adjourn the proceedings until the parties achieve a settlement if it determines that there is a realistic likelihood of settlement at any point throughout the hearing. Additionally, the authority outlined in subsection 2 is an addition to the family court's authority by Section 9(3).

Jurisdiction of Family Court

  • Dissolution of Marriage

  • Child Custody

  • Domestic Violence

  • Maintenance

  • A Property Dispute

Procedure Used by Family Courts

The general procedure used by the family courts is set out in Section 10 of the Family Courts Act of 1984. According to Section 10(1), the family court is considered to be a civil court with all of that court's rights and privileges when the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, is applied to its lawsuits or other procedures. According to section 10(2), the family court proceedings and lawsuits brought under chapter IX of the code are governed by the requirements of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. To settle, the family court is empowered under Section 10(3) to establish its procedure based on the specifics of the lawsuit or action or the reality of the allegations made by one party and rejected by the other.

By Section 11 of the act, the family court's proceedings may be conducted in secret if the judge determines it is appropriate or if a party requests it. According to Section 14 of the act, any report, statement, or document connected to the subject is admissible under the Indian Evidence Act of 1872. Additionally, by Section 15 of the Act, only the portion of a witness’s testimony that is pertinent to the lawsuit or proceeding needs to be recorded by a family court, and both the judge and the witness must sign the document.


Before 1984, all family court cases were heard by regular civil court judges, who were notorious for taking a long time to offer relief to the parties. The Family Courts Act was enacted and became operational in 1984. The primary goal of the act was to transfer family and marital conflicts from the overworked and traditional courts of law to the straightforward court, where a layperson could also grasp the court's procedures. The act's primary goal was to facilitate a settlement between the parties and swift relief for them by using a conciliatory approach. But these objectives were not achieved. Today, it has been determined that the myth of the quick fix exists. For the family courts to operate efficiently, they must take several essential measures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What do you understand by "Family Court"?

Ans. Family courts are specialist courts designed to protect the welfare of the family by employing a multidisciplinary strategy to resolve family issues within the bounds of the law. These courts work to safeguard people's legal rights while also acting as a mentor, advisors, and counsellors for families to cope with issues and reestablish family unity.

Q2. Which Act introduced India's Family Courts?

Ans. To foster conciliatory behavior and enable the swift resolution of disputes involving matrimonial and family matters, the Family Courts Act of 1984 was passed into law.

Q3. How do family courts encourage negotiation and quick resolution of family disputes?

Ans. The primary goal of the Family Courts Act of 1984 was to give the parties quick, less expensive relief in a less formal setting with fewer complications. The goal of setting up these courts was to encourage party reconciliation and progress toward an agreement. According to Section 4 of the act, judges assigned to family courts should seek to fulfill the purpose of the legislation, which is to safeguard and preserve relationships through negotiation and counseling. Reasonable attempts should be made to settle disagreements by agreement.

Updated on: 06-Mar-2023


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