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Family Court Grants

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  • Current: Family Court Grants

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 Family Court Innovation.

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.

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 in 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, which uses a registered mediator to help parties resolve pending cases in accordance with the ADR Rules; facilitation, a more flexible model that uses a “neutral” to help parties reach resolution but which is not subject to the ADR Rules; parenting coordination, a more long-term process for high conflict families; and parental counseling to help families learn to work more cooperatively to place the needs of their children first.  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.

Judicial-Academic Partnership

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.  In 2021, one such partnership began studying methods of family court case triaging and implementing case management timelines.

Family Court Innovation

Counties submitting applications for this area will seek to pilot innovations in areas of family court in furtherance of the Family Law Taskforce Recommendations, including but not limited to: case management, triaging, online dispute resolution, and resources for self-represented litigants.

Forms & applications

Contact

Joseph Fischer, Staff Attorney

Indiana Office of Court Services
251 N. Illinois Street, Suite 800
Indianapolis, IN 46204
317-233-1579
FamilyCourtProject@courts.in.gov