The Belize Family Court has the authority to operate by virtue of the Family Court Act Chapter 93 of the Laws of Belize Revised Edition 2003. The Belize Family Court was established on April 1, 1989 and has been in operation for the past eighteen years.
To serve the public by offering a complete, professional, family centered service in a caring, committed and confidential manner based upon the principles of dignity and respect for all.
The Belize Family Court provides an environment where family and juvenile matters are handled in a holistic manner in order to provide alternative methods for reconciliation, protection, rehabilitation, growth and development in conjunction with other relevant organizations.
ROLE AND FUNCTION
The Court plays a vital role in keeping society together. When the Family Court functions well, society as a whole benefits, especially those who rely on the Court for assistance. It is therefore in the best interest of all concerned that the Belize Family Court functions as effectively and efficiently as possible.
The Belize Family Court continues to oversee the administration of justice for family and juvenile justice matters. It also continues to see the rise in domestic violence and maintenance cases. The Family Court has a very demanding task. Throughout the years the court has seen a significant increase in the number of cases it administers on an annual basis. For the year in review, the Court has dealt with in excess of two thousand cases, the majority falling within the areas of Maintenance and Domestic Violence.
The Domestic Violence Act #19 of 2007 to a large extent provides greater protection and assistance for victims of domestic violence. It has increased the power of the Court:
By increasing the duration of the orders from 12 months to 3 years
By including provisions for applicants in visiting relationships
By providing for officers of the Women’s Department as
well as experienced and qualified Social Workers to make applications on behalf of victims
To direct a respondent to relinquish to the Police any firearm or other weapon which he/she may have on his possession or and which has been used in domestic violence.
To direct the respondent, applicant, child or any other person to receive professional counselling or therapy.
The sad reality is that domestic violence is a pervasive act in our society which continues to plague and erode the very fabric of our families. Consequently this has adversely affected our society since financial resources have to be allocated to the health care system, support agencies, enforcement agencies, government agencies to provide for education and protection of the victims of domestic violence. While the incidents of domestic violence are prevalent among women and children, men also encounter incidents of domestic violence.