About the Family Court

Family Court Administration

    A Family Court administrator is appointed by and under the general supervision of the chief judge. The administrator formulates procedures governing the provision of court services, collects the statistics, prepares the annual report of the work of the court, and supervises court staff. The administrator is also the chief clerk of the Family Court and as such is the keeper of the court seals and the custodian of all court records. With the approval of the chief judge, the administrator appoints deputy clerks, assistant clerks, clerical assistants, and other staff as may be necessary for the efficient operation of the court.

Court Reporters and Court Recorders

Court reporters and court recorders are responsible for making a verbatim, true, complete, and accurate record of all court proceedings and for faithfully transcribing court records. Court reporters record the proceedings by stenographic means. Court recorders record the proceedings by audio means.

Juvenile Clerk’s Office

    The Juvenile Clerk’s Office processes and maintains petitions alleging that a juvenile is wayward, delinquent, dependent, neglected, or abused. The office also processes petitions for the adoption of children, for voluntary or involuntary termination of parental rights, for placement of children, for civil certification of children, and various other miscellaneous petitions and administrative appeals. The Juvenile Clerk’s Office also maintains the Voluntary Adoption Reunion Registry.

Domestic Relations Clerk’s Office

    The Domestic Relations Clerk's Office processes and maintains records of all domestic relations matters such as complaints for divorce, separate maintenance, child support, child custody, child visitation and domestic abuse complaints. The office also processes certain adult criminal complaints for a limited number of offenses such as failure of a parent to send a child to school or failure to pay child support.

Child Support/Reciprocal Office

    The Child Support/Reciprocal Office processes child support matters brought by or on behalf of custodial parents by the Department of Human Services’ Office of Child Support Services. These matters include complaints for child and medical support, to establish parentage, and to enforce child and medical support judgments. Additionally, the office collects, processes, and maintains records of child and medical support payments.

Juvenile Services Department

    The Juvenile Services Department handles all non-emergency juvenile justice petitions filed in the State of Rhode Island. The Intake Department within the Juvenile Services Department conducts preliminary assessments of juvenile justice petitions and assigns the matter to an informal hearing process, a formal juvenile justice calendar for arraignment, or to a diversionary calendar such as the Truancy Diversionary Calendar or the Diversionary Drug Calendar.

    Additionally, the Juvenile Services Department maintains a Mental Health Clinic which provides evidence-based forensic assessments and mental health consultations to the court’s judges and magistrates. The Mental Health Clinic also provides emergency evaluations and training to court staff.

The Office of the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)

    The mission of CASA is to advocate for children who are not at fault but become involved with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families and consequently the Family Court. These vulnerable children have been abused, neglected, or are otherwise dependent on the Family Court.

    CASA is a fully staffed office that includes full-time attorney guardians ad litem, social workers, clerical staff, and volunteers. The staff works together to ensure that while the children are under the protection of the Family Court, the children receive quality care and services and that the children’s best interests are represented in court.

Family and Women’s Services Unit

    The Family and Women’s Services Unit administers and manages court ordered drug and alcohol screens on adults and juveniles, conducts court ordered investigations of home conditions in child custody, support, and visitation cases, assists the court on the Family Treatment Drug and the Safe and Secure Babies Calendars,​ and conducts the Supervised Parenting Time Program.​​

Specialized Calendars

1. Juvenile Drug Calendars

    Cases where a juvenile has a substance abuse related issue are referred to either a Diversionary Drug Calendar or the Post-Adjudication Drug Calendar. The focus of both calendars is on rehabilitation rather than punishment with the goal of addressing the underlying causes of the offending behavior. A team approach involving judicial officers, social workers, case managers and, on the post-adjudication calendar prosecutors and defense counsel. The Diversionary Drug Calendar and the Post-Adjudication Drug Calendar are part of the Juvenile Services Department.

2. Family Treatment Drug Calendar

    This specialty calendar is a collaborative effort between the judicial officer, court social workers, the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, and other providers. The calendar offers intensive court supervision, court ordered substance use treatment services, and other ancillary services, with the goal of allowing the participating adult mothers and fathers to address addiction challenges, keep the children in the homes, or work toward reunifying the children and parents, and learn the necessary skills to move on to a healthy, substance-free future. The Family Treatment Drug Calendar is part of the Family and Women Services Department.

3. Safe and Secure Babies Calendar

    This specialty calendar seeks to serve parents of new babies zero (0) to eighteen (18) months. The parents may have been in the system as juveniles, have mental health issues, housing insecurity, exposure to domestic violence, a history of past substance use, or lack of parenting skills and natural supports. The Safe and Secure Babies Calendar is part of the Family and Women Services Department.

4. Truancy Diversion Calendar

    The Truancy Diversion Calendar is a voluntary program designed to address and resolve a juvenile’s chronic absenteeism through a school and community-based intervention program prior to referral to a formal truancy calendar at the courthouse. The truancy diversion calendars are called by magistrates sitting in the schools of the several participating districts throughout the state. The participants are required to attend school and classes every day school is in session, be on time to school and class, behave appropriately in school and at home, complete all academic work to the best of the participant’s ability, and cooperate with referred services. The Truancy Diversion Calendar is part of the Juvenile Services Department.​​​​​