Family Law Links: Benchbooks

Traditionally, benchbooks were designed to be a quick reference about procedural and substantive matters for judges on the bench. A benchbook is a practical guide to help trial judges deal with situations they are likely to encounter on the bench. It is a manual that can give judges immediate guidance on how to handle a particular situation. While benchbooks are extremely helpful to new judges, experienced judges may also find them useful as a refresher and as a starting point when they face a particular situation for the first time. Benchbooks help create uniformity in the judicial system because all judges can refer and rely on the same information. (Description provided by the National Center for State Courts)

Benchbooks by State
Domestic violence benchbooks listed below have been issued to give guidance to judges in those areas noted. If your state is not listed here, or if the benchbook is not found online, contact your local domestic violence service provider or the state domestic violence coalition (find links here) and ask if they know of the location of a benchbook for your state. More information about benchbooks and how they are used is available from the National Center for State Courts.

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  • Alabama: Alabama's Domestic Violence Benchbook, developed by Judicial Benchbook Committee, Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2005)
  • Alaska: planned Fiscal Year 03-04 by Governor's Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
  • Arizona: Domestic Violence Cases Benchbook. Benchbook for Orders of Protection and Injunctions Against Harassment and Workplace Harassment prepared by the Committee on the Impact of Domestic Violence and the Courts & The Domestic Violence Benchbook Workgroup (2005); Criminal Domestic Violence Cases Benchbook, The Committee on the Impact of Domestic Violence and the Courts & The Domestic Violence Benchbook Workgroup (2004)
  • California: California Judges Benchbook, Domestic Violence Cases in Criminal Court, California Center for Judicial Education and Research (2000) Available for purchase online.
  • Colorado: Colorado DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BENCHBOOK, Jacqueline St. Joan, Ed., Colorado Judicial Department (1995) [not located online]
  • District of Columbia: District of Columbia Superior Court Domestic Violence Benchbook: Civil Protection Order Cases (District of Columbia Bar Association 2d ed. 2001). [not located online]
  • Florida: Domestic Violence Benchbook for Florida's Judiciary.
  • Georgia: Domestic Violence Benchbook [not located online]
  • Hawaii: A Benchbook for Judges on Domestic Violence Criminal Cases (1994) [not located online]
  • Illinois: Domestic Violence Benchbook [not located online]
  • Iowa: Iowa Domestic Abuse Bench Book [not located online]
  • Kentucky: Judges' Domestic Violence Benchbook [planned in 2002] [not located online]
  • Illinois: Domestic Violence Benchbook: A Guide to Civil and Criminal Proceedings, Administrative Office, Illinois Supreme Court, 1995) [not located online]
  • Louisiana: Domestic Violence in Criminal Court Cases (distributed Spring 2002) [not located online]
  • Maryland: Trial Judges' Domestic Violence Manual [revised 2005] [not located online]
  • Massachusetts: Guidelines for Judicial Practice - Abuse Prevention Proceedings (2000). Judicial guidelines for family court in Massachusetts. These guidelines are important for litigants, lawyers and other legal professionals - includes visitation, child support, custody. A very comprehensive guide, including forms, tables, cases, memorandums and statutes.
  • Michigan: Domestic Violence Benchbook: A Guide to Civil and Criminal Proceedings, Michigan Judicial Institute (3rd ed. 2004)
  • Nebraska: Judge's Benchbook [info on DV and SA recommended to be added in 1998], by Nebraska Supreme Court Gender Fairness Implementation Committee [not located online]
  • New Jersey: New Jersey Domestic Violence Procedures Manual, Issued under the Authority of the Supreme Court of New Jersey and the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey (2004).
  • New Mexico: Domestic Violence Benchbook, Rozier E. Sanchez Judicial Education Center of New Mexico, Institute of Public Law.
  • New York: Domestic Violence Benchbook, New York State Certified Court System [not located online]
  • North Dakota: Domestic Violence: The North Dakota Domestic Violence Benchbook, a Guide for the North Dakota Judiciary, North Dakota Supreme Court Gender Fairness Implementation Committee (2003) [not located online]
  • Ohio: The Ohio Domestic Violence Benchbook: A Practical Guide to Competence for Judges & Magistrates, Ohio Family Violence Prevention Center (2003.)
  • Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Benchbook [copies given to Judges July 2005] [not located online]; Deciding Child Custody When There is Domestic Violence: A Benchbook for Pennsylvania Courts, Women's Law Project (2005).
  • Tennessee: Tennessee Domestic Abuse Benchbook, produced by the Administrative Office of the Courts and Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Ed. Kathy Skaggs (2003).
  • Washington: Guidelines for Domestic Violence Protection and Antiharassment Orders, Written by Commissioner William G. Knebes and reviewed by several judges and domestic violence experts, for the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts (2001); Domestic Violence Manual for Judges, Washington State Gender and Justice Commission (2002). Available at 360-705-5290 [not available online].
  • West Virginia: West Virginia Benchbook for Domestic Violence Proceedings, West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Domestic Violence Training Program Advisory Committee (2004)
  • Wyoming: Wyoming Domestic Violence Benchbook, Dona Playton (2004) [not located online]
  • Tribal: Tribal Court Benchbook for Domestic Violence Cases (1999), produced by the Northwest Tribal Court Judges Association. The Tribal Court Bench Book is a general guideline with recommendations to help tribal courts deal with domestic violence cases. It is arranged into three sections: Pre-Trial, Trial, and Post-Trial. The Bench Book is the result of a year-long process to which tribal judges devoted many hours of personal time. That effort has created a unique legal guide on domestic violence by tribal court judges for tribal court judges.

Other Benchbooks