Attorneys in North Carolina now can designate up to 12 weeks without court appearances in the wake of a new child, the state’s Supreme Court announced Sept. 10.

The new policy comes from a change in the high court’s General Rules of Practice and Rules of Appellate Procedure and were approved at its September conference, said Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. Under both rules, attorneys in the state are allowed three weeks of “secured leave"—meaning time during which trial courts and appellate courts will not hold a proceeding in any of the individual’s cases—for any purpose. The amended rules now also allow attorneys to take 12 additional weeks during the 24 weeks after the birth or adoption of a child.

North Carolina isn’t alone in considering solutions for attorneys who are also new parents. The Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments Aug. 27 on a proposed rule governing parental leave continuances. Debate on that particular rule change began in May 2017.

And the issue in Florida inspired Judge Ravi K. Sandhill, who presides over the 127th Civil District Court in Harris County, Texas, to implement a new policy as well. Last July he announced that parental leave for expecting attorneys takes precedence before keeping trials on the court’s schedule, which includes Houston.

“Strengthening families and supporting children is such an important part of the work of our courts,” Beasley said in a statement. “It is with great pleasure and in that spirit that we are taking steps to ensure that new parents who work in our courts are able to take time to bond with their new children.”