Family Court

Family Court, or Juvenile Court, of Jefferson County exercises jurisdiction in matters involving children.  These matters might include cases in which a child is alleged to be delinquent, dependent, or in need of supervision.  The Court also exercises jurisdiction over other proceedings, including establishment of paternity and child support enforcement as well as protection from abuse.  Proceedings before the juvenile court judge and juvenile court records are confidential (not open to the public). There are no jury trials in juvenile court.

The Bessemer Division of the Jefferson County Family Court serves the citizens of the Bessemer Cut-Off in the areas of delinquent, dependent, and children in need of supervision.  The Bessemer Division of the Jefferson County Family Court also presides over cases involving adults, which include paternity and child support.

A delinquent is a child under the age of 18 who has committed an offense which, if the individual were an adult, would be considered a crime.  A dependent is a child who is orphaned, neglected, or abused and in need of care.  A Child in Need of Supervision (CHINS) is one who has committed an act which, if that child were an adult, would not be considered a crime but is in need of care or rehabilitation, such as one who is habitually truant, disobedient to parents, or is a runaway.

There are some cases which the juvenile court cannot hear even if the individual is under the age of 18.  The juvenile court does not have jurisdiction over juveniles 16 years of age or older charged with traffic offenses, except for driving under the influence (DUI) cases, or juveniles 16 years of age or older charged with any of the following offenses, which, if they were committed by an adult, would be:

  • a capital offense;
  • a Class A felony;
  • a felony which has an element of the offense the use of a deadly weapon;
  • a felony which has as an element the causing of death or serious physical injury;
  • a felony which involves the use of a dangerous instrument against certain officials or persons; and
  • trafficking in drugs.

Jefferson County Family Court
120 2nd Ct. North, Birmingham, AL 35204
Birmingham (205) 325-5491 | Bessemer (205) 481-4225

The Court Administrator and staff coordinate the internal procedures of the court: budgeting, office management, allocation of space and personnel transactions.  Click on a link below for more information.

Programs Department

The Jefferson County Family Court Programs Division has the responsibility of providing ancillary services to the families referred.  This division develops, manages and evaluates programs designed to support the two-fold purpose of this court.  The programs aid in deterring further delinquent behavior, while providing accountability for the youths.  Specific programs are also designed to enhance the protection of the community.  Family Court is a "partner" in the collaborative effort with many other Birmingham and Jefferson County community and government agencies in order to develop new programs or coordinate existing programs without duplicating services.

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Training and Volunteer Services

Juvenile Probation Officers are required by the Alabama Department of Youth Services to receive a minimum of forty hours of job related training each year in order to be certified.  This unit develops, plans and coordinates training programs so the Juvenile PO’s have the opportunity to comply with this state mandate, as well as to continue development of their knowledge, skills and abilities.

Volunteers are one of the most important assets of Family Court.  The Volunteer Services component of this unit recruits, screens, trains, and assigns volunteers to support the paid staff at Family Court.  Volunteers not only provide a valuable service to the Court, but to the community as well.  For more information about Training or Volunteer Services please contact Family Court at 205-325-5619.

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Child Support Enforcement

Through an agreement between the Jefferson County Commission and the Jefferson County Department of Human Resources (DHR), the four units in this Division - Child Support Enforcement Units I and 2, Bessemer Child Support Enforcement and the Circuit Court Unit - provide monitoring and enforcement on court ordered IV-D child support cases.  These cases originate with DHR through establishment of paternity and child support obligations, or request for enforcement on previously existing orders, including divorce court orders and cases where one of the parties resides outside the state of Alabama.  For more information about the Child Support Enforcement Division, please call 205-916-5140, or appointment line, 916-5145.  Child Support Enforcement is located at 11 West Oxmoor, Suite 200, Birmingham, Al 35209.

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Juvenile Intake and Probation Services

The Birmingham Juvenile Intake office is staffed with seven juvenile probation officers that have been sworn as magistrates.  Their statutory function is to initiate juvenile cases according to the Alabama Rules of Juvenile Procedure, but they also receive criminal complaints and assist the public in filing of civil petitions.

Juvenile cases are in the matter of a "child" or "minor" as these terms are defined by the Alabama Juvenile Justice Act ( § § 12-15-1 through 12-15176).  A magistrate according to Alabama Rules of Juvenile Procedure, Rule 12, must initiate every juvenile case.  The magistrate receives and evaluates juvenile complaints similarly to criminal complaints and determines whether a petition will be filed to initiate a case before the court.  Ala. Code, § 12-15-50.  The following are various types of juvenile cases:

  • Delinquent, where a child is alleged to have committed a crime.  Ala. Code, § 12 15-30(a).
  • Dependent, where a child is alleged to be subjected to abuse, neglect, a custody controversy or inadequate care.  Code, § 12-15-30(a).
  • Child in need of supervision, where a child is alleged to have committed a juvenile status offense.  Ala. Code, § 12-15-30(a).
  • Custody/guardianship, where the child is otherwise before the court or to register or enforce a custody decree of a juvenile court of another state.  Ala. Code, §§ 12-15-30(b)(1) & 30-3-23.
  • Judicial consent for a child’s marriage, employment, enlistment or withdrawal from school.  Ala. Code, § 12-15-30(b)(2).
  • Interstate Compact on Juveniles, for interstate placement of delinquent children or the return of juvenile interstate runaways, escapees or absconders.  Code, § 12-15-30(b)(3) & 44-2-1 el seq..
  • Involuntary commitment of a child or minor to the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation.  Code, §§ 12-15-30(b)(4), 12-15-31(4) & 12-15-90.
  • Termination of parental rights to a child.  Ala. Code, § 12-15-30(b)(6) & 26-18-1 el seq..
  • Emergency removal or medical treatment for a child.  Ala. Code, §12-15-30(c)(I).
  • Violation of a child’s rights in public school proceedings.  Ala. Code, § 12-15 30(c)(2).

The magistrates of the Intake Office receive criminal complaints and issue warrants for the following misdemeanor offenses under the jurisdiction of Family Court:

  • Violation of the Alabama Juvenile Justice Act.  Ala. Code, § 12-15-31(l).
  • Desertion and non-support.  Ala. Code, § 12-15-31(3).
  • Violation of the compulsory school attendance laws.  Ala. Code, § 16-28-21.

The Intake Office assists the public in the filing of the following civil petitions in Family Court:

  • Parentage of a child.  Ala. Code, § 12-15-3](2),
  • Child support.  Ala. Code, § 30-3-60.
  • Protection from abuse where there is no divorce pending.  Code, § 30-5-2.
  • Waiver of parental consent for abortion.  Ala. Code, § 26-21-4.
  • Removal of disabilities of nonage of a minor.  Ala. Code, § 12-15-30(b)(2) & 2618-1 et seq..

The magistrates are on duty at the Family Court Courthouse and the Bessemer Courthouse during county office hours.  At least one magistrate is on duty or on call at the G. Ross Bell Youth Detention Center at all other times for emergencies.  For further information please contact the Intake Office, in Birmingham at 205-325-5454, in Bessemer at 205-481-4225, and on nights and weekends at 205-325-5805.

The Birmingham Juvenile Probation Services division of Family Court is made up of a director, and 24 Probation Officers.  Juvenile Probation provides numerous services to juveniles and their families, to guide them through the process of Family Court.  Each child is assigned a Probation Officer when they are charged with a crime.  The Probation Officer would then provide pre-dispositional studies on each child before the Court on a delinquent or Child in Need of Supervision (CHINS) charge.  They must supervise juveniles that are under terms of probation or a consent decree.  Probation Officers report and make recommendations on a child’s progress as requested by the Court.  Special studies are conducted for those youth that are considered for commitment to the Department of Youth Services, when a motion has been made to transfer the child to the adult court system, or if placement is necessary in a residential treatment facility.  For further information contact John D. Duke, Director of Probation Services at 205-325-5989, or to speak with a specific Probation Officer call 205-325-5824.

This unit is the public’s initial contact with the Family Court system in matters of desertion and non-support, paternity of children born out of wedlock, contributing to the delinquency or neglect of a child, and protection from abuse.  Probation Officers in this unit provide services on these cases from the beginning of the case (intake), through the court hearing, and any supervision or monitoring of the case ordered by the court.

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Clerk and Register

The responsibilities of this Division are varied, detailed and critical to the operations of the Court.  These responsibilities include: maintaining legal files; processing court summons; setting cases for court; collecting, recording, and distributing child support and restitution payments, court cost and fines; and providing switchboard and information services.  For more information about the department, contact Ramona Munkus, Chief Court Clerk at 325-5446.  If you have specific inquiries about case files or dockets contact: Juvenile Docket at 325-5444 or Adult Docket at 325-5803.

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Jefferson County Family Court
120 2nd Ct. North, Birmingham AL 35204
Birmingham (205) 325-5491 | Bessemer (205) 481-4225