The following Family Court contacts can provide you with information about the family courts; however, they cannot provide legal advice on family law cases or represent individuals in family law matters.
Proposed Programming: The court will partner with Indiana Institute of Technology to create a website to provide court forms for use in pro se DR cases. Staff person to assist with filings, and accessing resources and volunteer lawyer assistance. Also, develop domestic violence training for local bar and family service providers. Continuing Programming - Family Court Tracking (information sharing between Family courts and Juvenile court regarding families).
Bartholomew County’s Family Court Project is designed to provide parties in family law cases where disputes involving minor child are at issue the opportunity to resolve those disputes outside of the traditional, and often adversarial, court process. The plan encourages those parties to participate in mediation. Mediation benefits the parties in, at least, three ways. First, mediation allows the parties to reach a settlement or solution that they, not the court, create. These solutions can be tailored to the specific circumstances and needs of the parties and their children. Second, mediation gives the parties direct and meaningful access to the problem solving process. Third, mediation allows the parties to resolve their differences more quickly, effectively and efficiently.
The Bartholomew County courts refer family law parties to mediation on a case by case basis. While the plan targets family law cases involving custody and parenting time issues, all types of family law cases can be referred to the plan. The Bartholomew County courts have entered into agreements with several local certified family law mediators to provide the mediation services. The mediation services are provided at a reduced cost, or no cost, to those parties with the least ability to pay for the mediation services.
Proposed Programming: Brown, Jackson, and Lawrence will continue their family court programming which provides mediation and document preparation services to pro se and low income families as well as facilitation in CHINS cases, allowing for quicker referral to services, avoiding damaging hearings and quicker out of court resolutions.
Proposed Programming: Continue the three programs included in the 2012 Family Court Grant. 1. Early Alternative Dispute Resolution; that is, mediation at the of Paternity Adjudicatory Hearings in the Elkhart County Title IV-D Court provided by the Center for Community Justice (CCJ) utilizing a certified family mediator with an advanced mental health degree and experience. 2. Supervised Visitation through Child and Parent Services (CAPS). 3. Early Case Management through Child and Parent Services (CAPS) that identify issues in the family and community based services, make recommendations to the court, make referral to services ordered by the court and monitoring compliance with regular reports to the Court. This component is for high conflict families wherein the child’s well-being is in issue.
Proposed Programming: Case conference before contested hearing requiring 2+ hours of court time, to identify issues and financials and determine if mediation referral is appropriate. To provide for immediate use of ADR Fund Plan as approved late 2013.
The Grant County Family Court Program encourages litigants and attorneys to maintain focus on the best interests of children, and provides programming designed to reduce conflict in family cases. The Program includes an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Plan. Grant funding is used to increase indigent litigants’ access to services, including parent education, Guardian Ad Litem services, and mediation. The Program has supported domestic relations mediation certification for three attorneys, and also provides family law CLE for local attorneys.
Proposed Programming: Partner with District 10 Pro Bono Project to establish a Greene County "Counsel in the Court", a twice-monthly walk-in clinic in which an attorney coordinator and volunteer attorney staff a weekly walk-in clinic which provides advice and help with forms to Greene County pro se family law litigants.
Proposed Programming: Youth Assistance Program is for at-risk children who are referred to this voluntary program by parents, teachers, police and/or teachers. Referral information is provided to a YAP contact person who evaluates each child and his/her family to determine their specific needs and to develop a plan for their services.
Proposed Programming: Henry County uses a "One-Judge, One-Family" which identifies families who have multiple cases pending in the court system and coordinates the family's multiple cases through bundled hearings and family focused case management. The family court administrator monitors all of the family's pending cases and checks for new case filings on any family members. Family Court has also launched Calliope pilot Supervised Visitation program for families that have a determined need with visitation issues. The Family Court coordinates and directs ADR programming through Circuit No. 1 and Circuit No. 2 Courts. The ADR program uses two local mediators and will contract with outside mediators when conflict, including JC facilitation. The mediations are provided at no cost to pro se parties that have high conflict in their divorce, paternity and JC actions.
Proposed Programming: The mission of the Jefferson County Family Court Project is to ensure that elementary school children are attending school as they should and that families of elementary age school children receive services they need to ensure proper school attendance. Indigent and low income families also receive mediation and parenting coordination services to promote child safety and affordable non-adversarial problem solving approaches in family matters through referrals to the appropriate parental education, mediation, co-parenting counseling, or other needed services, including a safe location for supervised visitation.
Proposed Programming: Resolve divorce and paternity cases in a manner that avoids lengthy court hearings and adversarial hostility, while increasing party ownership and responsibility in custody, parenting time, and support orders. To provide for immediate use of ADR Fund Plan as approved Fall 2013.
Proposed Programming: Provide ADR services to litigants in dissolution and paternity cases - to minimize conflict and promote prompt resolution to litigants that could not otherwise afford the services. To provide for immediate use of ADR Fund Plan as approved late 2013
Proposed Programming: Cooperative Parenting for High Conflict Families - designed as a psycho-educational group to be conducted in four sessions. Educate parents about impact high-conflict has on children in divorce. Held at the court complex, with $200/couple (to be subsidized if parent has limited income). Course taught by licensed doctoral level clinical psychologist, with co-instructor and security personnel. Program staff to develop literature, forms, certificates, questionnaires. Designed to be self-sustaining within twelve months.
Proposed Programming: Focus on access to Self-Help Centers in LaPorte and expansion into Michigan City. The grant will allow the court to maintain a Family Court Project Coordinator who will be responsible for daily operations, scheduling appointments for self-represented litigants, data collection and reporting and providing service referrals for pro bono mediation and other social services. LaPorte Circuit Court will work in a partnership with Valparaiso University Law School to train student volunteers to assist in the Self-Help Centers. Additionally, Project ATTEND (Aiming Toward Truancy Elimination and Non-attendance Decrease) will continue its successful programs in the seven (7) public school districts in La Porte County.
Proposed Programming: Continue to work with District 10 Pro Bono Project to operate the "Counsel in the Court", a twice-monthly walk-in clinic in which an attorney coordinator, volunteer attorney, and law student staff a weekly walk-in clinic which provides advice and help with forms to pro se family law litigants.
The Madison County Family Court Project follows the information sharing model. The Family Court Project has three primary purposes. First, the Project will track families with pending cases in multiple courts and share information with those courts in order to coordinate services and avoid duplicate and conflicting orders. It will also provide evaluations and recommend appropriate services for the family. Second, the Project will refer families for alternative dispute resolution when there are issues that can be resolved outside a courtroom. Third, the Project will develop a family law self-help center to assist indigent and lower income litigants so they can better represent themselves in family law cases.
Proposed Programming: Create an automated version of an intelligent (digital and responsive) questionnaire to properly refer litigants to appropriate levels of intervention (parenting education, domestic violence counseling, mediation, etc.) early in the family case life cycle. Goal: to remove barriers to allow collaborative agreed resolution of cases. Proposal is to internally research and develop our screening tool under rigorous PhD level research standards. (Funded at $25,000). Continuing Programming - Legal Information Site Coordinator, Family Law Self-Help Centers, Mediation Assessments, Triage Program, and Access Program for Marion Superior Courts. (Funded at $15,000).
Proposed Programming: Martin County "Court Assisted School Suspension" (C.A.S.S.) Program is an alternative to out-of-school suspension. It provides: an opportunity for the student to receive credit for school work completed while in the C.A.S.S. classroom; Evidence based programs to assist students with life skills training to make better choices; and, when necessary, an alternative placement for the student who does not cooperate with family and/or C.A.S.S. classroom expectations.
Proposed Programming: “Counsel in the Court” weekly clinic in partnership with District 10 Pro Bono Project. Attorney coordinator and attorney staff a weekly walk-in clinic which provides advice and help with forms to Monroe County pro se family law litigants. Law student volunteers.
Proposed Programming: “Counsel in the Court” weekly clinic in partnership with District 10 Pro Bono Project. Attorney coordinator and attorney staff a weekly walk-in clinic which provides advice and help with forms to Monroe County pro se family law litigants. Law student volunteers. (Funded at $5,000) Continuing Programming - fund the Owen County Mediation Project that mediates cases for low-income and often pro se parties in Owen Co who need assistance working through divorce, paternity, guardianship, and adoption cases. Funds a portion of the salary for the Owen County Mediation Project Administrator. (Funded at $3,000)
The Parke County Family Court Project identifies eligible families for involvement with the Family Court Project of Parke County. Multiple ongoing court involvements will be coordinated as much as is possible and addressed. Once a family is referred to the Parke County Family Court Project, families are further screened to aid them in finding appropriate assistance for their needs in the community. The family is also scheduled for Alternative Dispute Resolution Services, as are ordered through the referral to the Parke County Family Court Project. Families meet with a mediator, and are assisted in reaching resolution of family court issues commonly including but not limited to child custody, visitation, and dissolution. Families are often low income with high conflict, and fees for services are determined using an income-based sliding fee scale. Families are taught communication skills and provided with co-parenting resources prior to and during mediation services.
Proposed Programming: Porter County uses the information sharing between multiple courts model, generally referred to as case tracking. When a family is selected for family court all of the family’s pending litigation is included in the family court proceeding, including criminal matters significant to the family. An order is issued assigning the cases to family court, but the cases all remain in their original courts. The family court case manager prepares a written "case management" report that provides basic information about the pending multiple litigation for all the judges, attorneys, parties, and appropriate government agencies or service providers involved with the family. The case management report advises the courts and all appropriate persons of the legal issues impacting the family, ensures more informed decision making regarding safety and stability issues for the children, and helps coordinate needed services for families.
Porter County has also developed subsidized facilitation services in divorce custody and visitation cases, and a “paternity clinic” that uses trained Family Court staff to provide facilitation services in paternity custody cases. In 2004, Porter County successfully started a facilitation program in child protection cases.
The Porter County family court also provides a variety of special services for at-risk and high-risk families. The pre-existing "Project ATTEND" program was brought under the family court umbrella in 2003. This programming provides specialized services to the families of children with truancy and other school problems. Programming includes school-based supervision, case conferencing, and home-based visitation, as necessary.
The 2003 reorganization of the family court project within the juvenile probation department creates an innovative approach to service delivery for the Porter County courts. Prevention and case management services are now accessible through the probation department for all case types, and probation services have an increasing "family focus." Since the reorganization, the Family Court has implemented Mental Health Diversion programming and a Juvenile & Family Drug Court. These programs are enhancements to the already growing continuum of care that the Family Court provides to Porter County.
Proposed Programming: Sullivan County will provide supervised parenting time, supervised parenting time in conjunction with parental training by a licensed therapist, and mediation services to families in high conflict cases in dissolution and paternity cases filed in Sullivan County, Indiana. Sullivan County currently has no option of providing supervised parenting time unless there is an active CHINS case involving the parties or unless the parties have the financial resources to travel to neighboring counties that offer supervised parenting time. We need to develop a program and have facilities available to offer supervised parenting time, mediation services, GAL services, and parent training to both indigent parties and parties who can financially afford these services.
Proposed Programming: The grant funds will be used to contract with an individual/s to provide mediation services for IV-D Speed Mediation and other mediation sessions in cases that cannot be referred to ADR.
Proposed Programming: As our Project will no longer be able to request funds for mediation services (as that is now handled by their 2012 ADR Fund), since 2013 we have begun monthly Pro Se Legal Clinics in Daviess and Pike Counties to expand our services more broadly throughout Pro Bono District K. Now this same service is being expanded into Vigo County. Judicial Officers in Daviess, Pike, and Vigo counties support operating this programming through our existing Project as an example of multi-county collaboration. Continuing Programming - Since 2008, the Vanderburgh Family Court Project’s Pro Se Legal Clinic, has provided an expanding array of services to self-represented litigants. Through twice monthly clinics, staff and volunteers assist self-represented litigants with form selection, completion, and process guidance, often after referral from the Court. The Project also provides limited case management of clients seeking mediation, family counseling, and parenting time coordination, as well as referrals to supervised visitation, and visitation exchange education.
Proposed Programming: This program provides attorneys to assist low-income, unrepresented parties in dissolution, post-dissolution, paternity and protective orders when children are involved. Further, mediation will be provided when appropriate including CHINS cases. (Two attorneys who live in Vermillion County who are Qualified Domestic Relations Mediators have agreed to provide services at a reduced fee.) Make referrals to social and legal service providers and answer questions about Court processes and provide assistance to unrepresented litigants in family law cases. A program with both of the county’s two school systems in which students and their parent/guardian must appear in Court at 8:00 a.m. on the first day of the suspension. After a “discussion” with the Judge in open Court, they are sent to an alternative school to do school work and community service. According to school records, since the start of the program both school systems have reduced suspensions significantly.
Task Force Chairperson: Judge Margret G. Robb
Court of Appeals
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1270
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-3419
Lilia Judson, Executive Director Division of State Court Administration
30 South Meridian Street, Suite 500
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204