Family Courts: Need for Expansion and Reforms


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Judiciary, Family courts, Challenges and Reforms

Central Idea

  • Mumbai’s only family court, inundated with divorce applications and family disputes, showcases a range of emotions and highlights the need for additional family courts to better address these complex and sensitive issues.

The Nature of Family Court Cases

  • Mostly divorce cases: Common grounds for divorce include domestic violence, adultery, and dowry, but absurd reasons can also be found among the cases.
  • Other issues and counselling: Family courts handle not only divorce cases but also maintenance, child custody, and alimony cases, with judges first suggesting counseling for couples seeking to end their marriages.
  • Emotional scenes: Family courts witness heightened emotions, such as anger, blame, heartbreak, relief, and joy, as people struggle with the consequences of broken relationships.
  • Inequal treatment: Instances of inequality in the judicial system are evident, with influential individuals sometimes receiving preferential treatment.
  • Role of technology and empathy: During the COVID-19 pandemic, non-custodial parents sought to maintain contact with their children through video calls.
  • For instance: A lactation room was recently inaugurated at the Bandra family court to provide a refuge for women with infants amidst child custody and divorce proceedings.

Why Family courts were established?

  • Family courts were established to provide a forum for speedy settlement of family-related disputes, emphasizing non-adversarial conflict resolution and promoting conciliation.

What are the challenges faced by Family courts in India?

  • Backlog of cases: One of the most significant challenges faced by family courts in India is the backlog of cases. Family disputes are often complex and require a significant amount of time to resolve, which results in long waiting periods for litigants.
  • Lack of infrastructure: Many family courts in India lack adequate infrastructure, such as courtrooms, staff, and equipment, which makes it difficult to manage cases efficiently.
  • Shortage of judges: There is a shortage of judges in family courts, leading to delays in the disposal of cases.
  • Low awareness: Many people in India are not aware of the role and functions of family courts, which often leads to confusion and delays in the resolution of disputes.
  • Socio-cultural factors: In many cases, socio-cultural factors such as patriarchy, gender discrimination, and dowry-related issues pose significant challenges to family courts in India.
  • Limited jurisdiction: Family courts in India have limited jurisdiction and can only hear certain types of cases related to family disputes. This can result in some cases being heard by multiple courts, leading to delays and confusion.

The Need for Expansion and Reform in Family Courts: A Case of Mumbai’s family court

  • With over 5,000 divorce cases pending in Mumbai’s family court, frivolous applications and counter-applications add to the pendency of cases and negatively impact children.
  • The current seven judges at Mumbai’s family court are insufficient to handle the caseload, and the promise of 14 additional family courts in Mumbai, along with one each in Thane and Navi Mumbai, is a much-needed and welcome move.


  • Mumbai’s family court reveals the complexity and emotional intensity of family disputes, and the urgent need for additional family courts to better address these sensitive issues. Expanding the number of family courts will help ensure that more families receive the support and resolution they need during these challenging times.

Mains Question

Q. Establish the purpose of Family courts. Discuss the challenges faced by family court in India.



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