Family Court functioning “fairly well”, strong focus on mediation – Justice Damone Younge
DPI, GUYANA, Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Family Court Judge, Justice Damone Younge said the court, which took effect in June 2016, has been functioning “fairly well” with minor hiccups in relation to registry matters and some litigants and attorneys not showing up on respective court dates.
During a recent interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI), Justice Younge said that “we deal with matters very quickly, once everything is in order, we proceed and it’s dealt with almost immediately depending on the type of application. You may have a simple divorce which may be dealt with in minutes, but some applications, you have custody issues, division of property issues, which may take a little more time but not prolonged.”
Justice Younge said the court is in receipt of many applications for guardianship of children by grandparents and access to children by either parent, however, divorces are in higher figures.
The Family Court has adopted an approach to mediation in many of these cases, which according to Justice Younge, are easily solved through this process.
She explained that, “for the most part we try to get them to an agreement which is satisfactory for both sides …we are dealing with human beings and a lot of emotions, so sometimes you find that persons want to hold onto their positions, so you have to get them to recognise that it is not about them, but the child.”
In relation to child support matters, Justice Younge said in some instances monetary contributions from either party is substituted with the provision of the basic necessities to ensure that no one is pressured beyond what they can afford.
“We try to work in the circumstances, what they can afford, what is acceptable and try to come to a point where they’re in agreement. I think once they’re in agreement it is better for them to work with that rather than it being an imposition of the court.”
The same approach is encouraged in the division of property cases, which can be challenging, Justice Younge noted.
The court operates within strict timelines and expects that both litigants and attorneys respect the court by adhering to the court dates. This, the judge noted, will assist in the swift disposal of cases and avoid backlogs.
There are some 800 pending cases from 2017.
Statistics show that of the 1,629 cases filed in the Family Court for 2017, 646 were completed in that year with 96 of the pending cases for 2017 completed in 2018.
As of February 7, one hundred and ninety-eight (198) matters were filed for this year and one completed.
By: Stacy Carmichael