Applications are now being accepted for the 2024 Family Court Grant cycle and are due October 20, 2023. Applications are available and can be accessed by sending a request for application information to FamilyCourtProject@courts.in.gov. Make sure to include “Family Court Grant Application” in the subject.
Family Court Grants
The Family Court grants were initiated in 1999 as a cooperative effort between the General Assembly and the Indiana Supreme Court to better serve children and families in our courts. The initial emphasis of the Family Court grants was to create models to coordinate families who have multiple cases pending before multiple judges and to share information. Over time, the scope of the project broadened to include various types of family court related programming.
Applicants are encouraged to be creative and submit applications that will serve their county’s family court needs. Four major areas of emphasis are commonly used: Alternative Dispute Resolution Fund Plan Start-up; Access to Justice/Unrepresented Litigant Assistance; Judicial-Academic Partnerships; and Triage/Case Management Standards.
Programming Focus Areas
Access to Justice/Unrepresented Litigant Assistance
Increasing numbers of self-represented parties need assistance in filing appropriate pleadings and presenting needed documentation to the court in family law cases. Some counties have chosen to coordinate a volunteer self-represented litigant help desk or legal clinic to answer basic legal questions and help self-represented litigants obtain access to and complete basic pleading forms. Other counties have used funds to help parties resolve cases quickly through mediation or facilitation.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Fund Plan Start-up
Families benefit from affordable services that enable them to resolve their own disputes with the assistance of a neutral professional, and to take increased responsibility and ownership of the result. As of 2022, 49 counties have adopted ADR Fund Plans under 33-23-6, many of which have administered those programs jointly with their Family Courts. ADR programming can take several forms, including mediation, reconciliation, nonbinding arbitration, parental counseling and guardian ad litem services. Through a Family Court grant, counties without an ADR Fund Plan could complete the adoption of a Fund Plan and immediately start using grant monies to refer families to ADR services.
Through grants provided to courts, academic partners are able to be engaged to conduct research, analyze court practices and services, and determine if evidence supports the effectiveness and efficacy of the programming and processes in use.
Triage/Case Management Standards
Courts may seek grant funds to develop and implement a system of triaging cases for appropriate pathways and/or case management timelines in family law cases, in accordance with the Family Justice Institute Principles and the recommendations of the Family Law Taskforce of the Indiana Innovation initiative.
Joseph Fischer, Staff Attorney
Indiana Office of Court Services
251 N. Illinois Street, Suite 800
Indianapolis, IN 46204