Family Law

Family Law Section Annual Report 2013

The Steering Committee of the D.C. Bar Family Law Section ("the section") is pleased to submit the 2013 Annual Report on the activities of our section.

The section provides its members and other family law practitioners with a variety of multi-disciplinary educational programs through brown bag lunches.

Events and Evening Programs
Beginning in January 2013, the section provided evening programs on the following topics

  • When to Call in the Experts: Working with Third Party Professionals in Custody Cases;
  • Dealing with Difficulty Clients; 
  • Divorce and Retirement Assets: What You Need to Know (But Are Afraid to Ask).

The section will continue to provide exceptional evening programs on a monthly basis beginning in January 2014. Some of the programs offered will be

  • Basic Immigration Law for the Family Law Practitioner;
  • Different Approaches to Domestic Relations Solutions;
  • The Child Support Guideline: Above, Below or Departing from the Presumptive Amount;
  • Bankruptcy and Family Law; 
  • Non-Family Areas of Law Every Family Law Practitioners Should Know.

Brown Bags
The section also hosted monthly brown bag lunch Events from January to May 2013 at D.C. Superior Court on the following topics

  • Protecting Kids During Divorce: How to Help Clients Help Their Children During A Custody Fight;
  • The Role of the Child Support Services Division (CSSD) in Child Support Matters;
  • Which Hat Am I Wearing Today? Challenges of Representing Various Parties in Abuse/Delinquency Cases;
  • Electronic Evidence in Family Law: Perry Mason Goes Digital;
  • Communicating with Pro Se Parties.

For the 2013-2014 bar year, the section has hosted or will host the following brown bag lunch events:

  • Family Law: Children of LGBT Parents; Parental Kidnapping; Secondary/Vicarious Trauma;
  • The Child as the Witness; Law Enforcement and Domestic Violence;
  • CFSA Cases and Documents"; Parenting Time Arrangements in Child Support Orders.

Bench Bars
The section offers opportunities for the members of the Superior Court Family Court bench, section members and family law practitioners to interact with each other in a less formal setting by hosting Bench Bars by family law topic areas: Abuse and Neglect, Domestic Violence and Domestic Violence. A "Bench Bar" is a program that allows judges and practitioners to discuss best practices, the implication of new laws and ways to overcome challenges in the family law practice.

The section hosted such Bench Bars and will continue to offer this
program in the 2013-2014 bar year. The Abuse and Neglect Bench Bar is scheduled on November 19, 2013. The Domestic Relations Bench Bar is scheduled on April 23, 2014 .The Domestic Violence Bench Bar is scheduled on June 18, 2014.

Community Outreach/Service
The section continues to provide support to a variety of programs and services in the District of Columbia. Some Section members volunteer time to the D.C. Superior Court Negotiator Program, Family Court Self-Help Center, the D.C. Pro Bono Program's Advice and Referral Clinic and the Youth Law Fair. In the Negotiator Program, section members mediate domestic relations cases when parties appear at court for the first time. In the Family Court Self-Help Center, section members provide legal information to pro se litigants on various domestic relations issues. At the Advice and Referral Clinic, section members provide legal advice on different legal issues such as, but not limited to: bankruptcy, family law, and consumer protection.

The section also co-sponsored trainings and CLE workshops. The section co-sponsored the Family Court Self-Help Clinic training. The section provided and will continue to provide guidance and assistance to the updating of the D.C. Practice Manual.

During the 2013-2014 bar year, the section will seek approval from the D.C. Bar to host various drives to collect

  • books, school supplies;
  • outer garments (hats, gloves and scarves); 
  • clothing. the collected items will be donated to District organizations that provide social services to residents.

The section's membership numbers have held steady over the year. In the 2013-2014 bar
year, the section has a total of 524 members; just down 11 members from the 2012-2013 bar year. The Section hopes to recruit more members during the second half of this bar year as the membership dues are reduced by half-price.

In appreciation of member support, the steering committee hosted a Social Hour Event at the Beacon Bar and Grill in Washington, D.C. on September 25, 2013. The Social Hour Event gave members an opportunity to mingle and network with newly licensed attorneys, law students and seasoned practitioners.

Additionally, section members will receive a family law section member mug. Section members can pick up a mug from the D.C. Bar office through June 30, 2014.

The section is financially sound. Section programs continue to generate revenue
as evidenced by a significant reserve. The revenue/reserve will be used to host elaborate events, offer benefits to our membership and to make donations to non-profit organizations. Last bar year, the section made donations to the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program and the Youth Fair. The section will continue to make donations to these projects and to non-profit organization.

Court Reform
The section continued its role of working to make the Family Court more accessible which will result in successful outcomes for families and children. The section members participate on many court workgroups and committees which allows us to maintain open communication with the bench. 

Listserv Email List
Lastly, the section was selected to host a Listserv email list for its members. The list is used
by members to share legal ideas, information about opportunities and to inquire about legal strategy. Members are encouraged to use the list as often as possible.