Like many other areas of North Carolina, Mecklenburg County, which includes much of the greater Charlotte area, has a family court system. Basically, this means that several of the area's district judges are designated as family court judges.
As the name implies, these judges are assigned to hear cases that deal with families and children, including child custody and visitation cases. They also hear issues related to divorce, even if such issues do not have a direct bearing on children. For instance, family judges will typically make rulings on the distribution of property and on spousal support.
The point of the family court system is to make sure that judicial officers who have experience handling family law matters get assigned to hear these cases. Moreover, in family court, a couple who is going through the process will typically have one judge, or a small panel of judges, who will hear all matters related to the same family. This gives the judge some insight into the family's situation.
Finally, family court judges work hard to keep legal cases related to family law on track to getting resolved, ideally within one year or less. This helps couples reduce the time, resources and emotional capital that they have to invest in litigation. Moreover, getting some permanency into the life of a family is good for any children involved.
Although the family courts are designed to be friendly to people who need to use them, the process can still be complicated and stressful. This is particularly true with respect to child custody cases, in which so much is at stake. Even when in the family courts, having an attorney's assistance can prove to be invaluable.