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National Resource Center on Military-Connected Families and the Courts

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Purpose

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges' (NCJFCJ) National Resource Center on Military-Connected Families and the Courts is designed to be a resource for judicial officers and others working in courts with military-connected families in cases involving family violence, protection orders, divorce, child custody, child support, child abuse and neglect, and juvenile delinquency. The primary focus for the resource center is on active duty military members and their families with cases in the juvenile and family court system. Resources regarding military veterans, National Guard and reserve members are not the focus of the center at this time, but may be included as they are pertinent to certain topics. 

the work of the ncjfcj

Many overseas conflicts in the last decade have placed substantial stressors on members of our armed forces and their families. Multiple, extended deployments are common and create challenges to family stability and reintegration for those in the military. Juvenile and family courts often deal with the outcomes associated with these stressors and challenges in the form of cases involving domestic violence, abuse and neglect, custody, and child support. In hearing these cases, juvenile and family courts might be faced with navigating both civilian and military systems, as well as having to consider factors appropriately such as the neurobiological consequences of combat.

The NCJFCJ, guided by the Military Issues Committee and a 2011 resolution by its Board of Directors, is committed to developing and providing resources for judges and other court professionals to navigate and address effectively the unique issues facing members of our military and their families that touch the courts.

SJI project overview 

The NCJFCJ received funding for a grant from the State Justice Institute (SJI) to address issues for Military-Connected Families and the Courts through December 2019 and is expecting support and involvement from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office on Military Community and Family Policy.

State Justice Institute

Project Goals:
  • To increase the effectiveness of juvenile and family courts in cases involving military service members and their families;
  • To increase collaboration between civilian and military personnel to resolve case processing issues and to enhance delivery of services to military service members and their families; and
  • To promote the exercise of judicial leadership in convening local stakeholders and community groups to form collaborations in order to resolve case processing issues and to deliver appropriate services to military personnel and their families.

training and technical assistance

The grant provides training and technical assistance (TTA) to work in two demonstration court project sites - Camp Pendleton/San Diego County, CA, and Fort Knox/Hardin County, KY - to help courts serving military families develop judicial and military command collaborations at the local level. The grant also funds NCJFCJ staff to assist stakeholders in creating a coordinated systems approach to serving families with juvenile justice, child welfare, divorce, custody, and/or domestic violence cases.

TTA will include:

  • Needs assessments
  • Subject matter training
  • Site visits
  • Strategic planning
  • Creation of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and other tools

Project team members will assist selected sites in assessing current practices, implementing recommended practices, and piloting tools (such as bench cards and MOUs).

Task Force

A task force, composed of judges, military representatives, and others who have expertise in matters related to military family law will provide input on uniform standards for information sharing and the development of memoranda of understanding (MOU) templates, technical assistance bulletins, and outlines for promising practices for judges working with military families.

Resources in Development

  • Judicial Resource Guide for Working with Military-Connected Families and the Courts 
  • Toolkit for Courts to Develop a Memorandum of Understanding with a Military Installation

Next Military Summit – tentatively planned for September 23-24, 2019, at Fort Knox, KY.

Request Technical Assistance

The NCJFCJ is able to provide technical assistance on issues regarding military-connected families and the courts through December 2019. Please contact Cheri Ely, Program Director, at 775-507-4797 or cely@ncjfcj.org to submit requests.

Resources