Okaloosa County’s First Unified Family Court Established in Crestview

Last year, Okaloosa County, Florida created its first Unified Family Court in Crestview. Okaloosa County Circuit Judge Terry Ketchel was appointed to preside over the court. According to Ketchel, the court was set up to bring related domestic issues into the same courtroom before a single judge. He also stated civil cases concerning divorce, domestic violence, neglect, and juvenile delinquency make up almost half of all cases heard in the First Judicial District of Florida.

Terry Terrell, Chief Judge of the First Judicial Circuit, is committed to the Unified Family Court concept. Terrell, who was previously appointed to a Family Court Steering Committee by the Supreme Court of Florida, believes Crestview was a particularly well-suited location in which to begin the program. Although the Unified Family Court is still in its early stages, Okaloosa County officials hope to establish another location next year.

Judge Ketchel believes the new court provides judges with an opportunity to engage in better decision-making because it provides a judge with a better understanding of a family’s particular situation. He also stated prior to implementation of the new court, it was not uncommon for a single family to have multiple cases on the family law docket at any given time. The primary goal of the Unified Family Court is to protect children. According to Ketchel, “They’re not causing any of this, but they are dramatically impacted. Even the best of divorces is traumatic for children.”

Although there is no way to truly determine the success of the county’s new family court, employees at the Department of Children and Families in Northwest Florida support the concept. Additionally, Terrell believes the court has increased judicial efficiency and acts as an effective case management tool. It will be interesting to learn whether other Florida counties soon follow the new Okaloosa County family court model.

If you are faced with divorce or other stressful family law matters, you need an experienced attorney who is focused on family law to help you navigate the legal process. Whether or not you have legal counsel for marital and family law matters can make a huge difference in your future. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help.

Sandy T. Fox, a Palm Beach County divorce lawyer, can explain your rights, answer your questions, and assist you in filing your family law case. Whether through mediation, negotiated settlement, or trial, our lawyers are committed to achieving a positive outcome for you. Our divorce lawyers are available to assist you with all of your family law needs including: prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, paternity matters, adoptions, divorce, alimony, name changes, child custody, and child support. Call the Law Office of Sandy T. Fox today at (800) 596-0579 to schedule a comprehensive case analysis. You may also contact the law firm through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Miami-Dade Circuit Family Division Judge Julio Jimenez Dies at Age 58, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, January 20, 2012
Tampa Area Businessman Wanted for Failure to Pay $6 Million in Child Support and Alimony, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, January 12, 2012
Additional Resources:

One family, one judge theory is ‘really just getting cranked up’, by Tom McLaughlin, thedestinlog.com