Research Reports

Title Research on Improving the Family Court Probation Officers System
Date 2019.02.12
Files Research on Improving the Family Court Probation Officers System.pdf Research on Improving the Family Court Probation Officers System.pdf

Research on Improving the Family Court Probation Officers System

It has been 55 years since the first probation officer was assigned to the newly established Seoul family court. Today, in 2018, the number of probation officers in Korean family courts is approaching 180—and nearly 150 of those officers are specialized. The aim of this new system was to enhance the family court’s guardianship and welfare functions by utilizing experts in fields of human relationships (e.g., psychology, welfare studies, and education) at judicial proceedings. But many argue that the goals of the new system have not been sufficiently realized due to a lack of family court probation officers, insufficient training, limited promotional opportunities, and a lack of care and attention by the Korean Judiciary.
Acknowledging these problems, this research conducts a comparative legal analysis of similar systems in other countries, which may shed light on how Korea could improve its system. It is, in this regard, especially noteworthy that the function and role of family court probation officers in the U.S. are broader because U.S. officers also provide education for parents before divorce, counseling, and mediation services. The German courts are also providing counseling and mediation services by utilizing external agencies. In Japan, which has the most similar system to Korea, family court probation officers provide counseling and mediation services, as well as fact-finding tasks. There, the number of officers now amounts to 1,600.
Based on a comparative analysis, this research examines suggestions for improving the effectiveness of Korea’s system. In particular, a number of suggestions are examined, including: streamlining the processes of selection and operation, managing officers as a team, increasing the number of specialized probational officers, rotating officers at a regional level, prohibiting new hires from being placed alone, providing feedback on problems of reports, and utilizing the periods of family investigation effectively. Increasing training opportunities for both new hires and long-term employed officers—in addition to specialized trainings for family probational officers, juvenile case probational officers, and family protection case probational officers—could also provide a good resolution. Ultimately, increasing the effectiveness of the operation and expertise of the family court probation officers could contribute to improving Korea's family courts' guardianship and welfare functions.


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