The Effects of Decisions Made by the Civil Court System on Child and Family Outcomes
This pilot study examines the use of civil court data from the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts to understand the effects of civil court decisions on family life. Using a decade of statewide civil court data from North Carolina between 2008-2017, involving cases related to family issues—including divorce proceedings, alimony, child custody and visitation, child support and paternity—the study develops an individual-level, longitudinal dataset. The study documents sources of variation between, and within, judicial districts to better understand how these variations may affect outcomes measurable in the civil court data, such as the probability of experiencing an eviction, filing a domestic violence protection order or applying for temporary support.
Pilot results also inform a broader research proposal to merge civil court records with marriage and divorce certificates and birth records to examine the effects of civil court decision on family matters, such as re-marriage probability, fertility, child health, health care utilization, child support and educational trajectories. The data gathered and generated from this study will serve as a guide for policy implementation and enforcement in the matters of civil court decisions and family life.