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.
Allen County uses the information sharing family court model, which involves the ongoing monitoring of all of the family’s litigation and the distributing of case reports to multiple courts. Through the information sharing process, the project coordinator assists with the search for necessary services and resources for families. In addition, Allen County's project has developed a process for mediation and Family Group Decision Making process in pro se dissolutions and post dissolution matters, as well as facilitation to assist with the scheduling, coordination and delivery of services for parents, children, and/or extended families involved in paternity cases.
The project has also developed an arbitration process for self-represented parties in family law cases. This allows parties who represent themselves to have a more satisfactory and less frustrating experience when they turn to the Court for resolution of their family law disputes.
Contact Person: Lori Siders, 260-449-7258, email@example.com
|Learn more about the Allen County Family Court Project|
The Clark County Family Court utilizes the “One Judge-One Family” model by identifying multiple-case high risk families, consolidating all cases under one court and addressing needs through a therapeutic jurisprudence approach. Families identified for case management are assessed on a continuous basis to determine continued need. Clark County has also developed an Attendance Court program that emphasizes use of appropriate services prior to being referred to court. If a family refuses services offered by the school or if services fail to improve the child’s attendance, the family then will be referred to Clark County Absence Review Panel (CCARP), where the next step of action will be determined. CCARP will serve as the gatekeeper for Attendance Court, ensuring that families are offered every opportunity to resolve the attendance issue before the case is sent before the judge.
Clark County also requires mediation in all self represented divorces involving children. Cases where there is an active protective order or no contact order between the parties due to domestic violence will not be automatically referred for mediation. Individuals who allege or disclose domestic violence when filing for Pro Se divorce may not be referred to mediation. The presiding Judge over the case will make the final determination. Self represented litigants are given access to a computer after the initial assessment, for the purposes of filling out the online downloadable forms for divorce.
Most recently Clark County has established a Family Treatment Drug Court to assist parents or guardians involved in CHINS cases in obtaining sobriety for the purpose of providing a safe and stable environment. The goal of FTDC is to increase the rate of reunification among families where substance abuse is a factor contributing to the abuse or neglect of children.
Contact Person: Shawnna Gary, 812-285-6303, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Learn more about the Clark County Family Court Project|
This program was designed to provide affordable mediation services to low income and self represented parties in divorce and paternity cases. It significantly expedites these cases by helping parties to reach their own agreements and completing all necessary documentation needed for agreed settlements and divorce orders. The use of the same mediator in all of the counties insures consistent procedures and streamlines the process for the courts.
The project also provides CHINS facilitation programming at the pre-judgment stage in every CHINS case in Bartholomew County. Parents, attorneys, government and other service providers meet outside of the courtroom with a the mediator who encourages the parties to clarify the issues, disclose relevant information, increase levels of communication and to reach agreements on allegations and services. A facilitation meeting can also be ordered at any stage of the proceedings, including permanency planning, whenever the Judge believes that a meeting outside of the courtroom with a “neutral” can assist the parties. Bartholomew County also uses a Truancy Facilitation program. The Family Court mediator facilitates a conference with the parents, school officials and the ATTEND program coordinator to identify why the child has been absent from school and to resolve the problems causing the truancy. These conferences reduce tension between school personnel and parents and motivate the family to take concrete steps to insure the child’s school attendance. If a family is in need of services, those services are identified and referrals made at the meeting.
Contact Person: Pat or Paige McSoley, 812-824-8419, email@example.com
|Learn more about the Four- County Family Court Project for Bartholomew, Brown, Jackson, and Lawrence Counties|
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, checks for new case filings on any family members, and communicates with the family’s multiple service providers to update and receive new information on the family. Another aspect of the Henry County Family Court Project is providing some very limited pilot funding for drug screens, monitoring, or drug treatment for families in the “one judge-one family” project that do not have financial or other means to secure these services. With the receipt of Court Improvement funding we are able to provide drug treatment, drug screens to Family Court Families and at risk families with CHINS involvement whether it be an Informal Adjustment or CHINS action. This provides the families with treatment quickly and does not have the cost prohibition other programs have as well as the fact that there is local treatment. Family Court has also launched Calliope pilot Supervised Visitation program for families that have a determined need with visitation issues. The Family Court also 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. The mediations are provided at low or no cost to pro se parties that have high conflict in their divorce and or paternity actions.
|Learn more about the Henry County Family Court Project|
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.
Contact Person: Michelle Hicks, 812-599-5605, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Learn more about the Jefferson County Family Court Project|
The Johnson County Family Court Project uses a one family-one judge model, with the Juvenile Magistrate serving as the presiding judicial officer of the Juvenile and Family Court. A status hearing on all of a family's litigation is held for the purpose of identifying and/or clarifying issues and party involvement in all the pending cases. Subsequent concurrent hearings are scheduled as needed. The Family Court coordinates with the local community service collaborative (Access Coordination Team Services) to obtain counseling or other needed services for referred families.
ADR services available from the Johnson County Circuit and Superior Courts are available to the Family Court. In 2005, Johnson County also developed an Administrative Facilitation program to assist self-represented litigants in divorce proceedings. The Johnson County ADR Plan Program operates in cooperation with the Family Court Project and provides low cost mediation and parenting coordination services to qualified litigants. The Johnson Circuit Court has also been granted a Court Improvement Grant implement a CHINS Facilitation Project. Each Monday afternoon, excluding holidays, CHINS Facilitations are convened by a local attorney which significant criminal and CHINS defense experience. All parties to CHINS cases are order to attend and participate in facilitations at each contested step in CHINS / TPR proceedings. Johnson Circuit Court has also implemented a facilitation process for self-represented litigants in JP, RS, and DR cases. When the parties come before the Court for an initial paternity order, a modification of child support, or emancipation, they meet with the Family Court Case Manager prior to the hearing. The Case Manager addresses procedural questions and facilitates the parties in reaching an agreement. When agreements are reached, the Case Manager assists them in preparing the agreement for judicial signature. Even if an agreement is not reached, issues are identified for hearing.
Contact Person: Katrina Palmer, 317-346-4696
|Learn more about the Johnson County Juvenile and Family Court Project|
In addition to participating in the county-wide information sharing program, Lake Circuit Court has an on-site Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, which manages the services the court offers under the ADR plan and the Family Court Project, as well as a variety of other programs and services not funded by these programs. Once the judicial officer refers a family for services, the DRCB personnel conduct an intake interview and determine what services in addition to the Court-ordered ones may help the family. The DRCB arranges the services and determines and collects the co-payment or any other applicable user fees. The DRCB monitors the parties’ compliance with court orders for services, collects data, and reports back to the Court as to the provision and outcome of the ordered services.
Lake Circuit Family Court hosts a legal representative from Legal Services of Northwest Indiana Inc., every Thursday afternoon. This person screens litigants as to whether they qualify for pro bono legal services, and to do an initial intake if appropriate. We also host law students and their supervising attorney from Valparaiso University Law School Legal Clinic to assist pro se litigants and low-income families appearing in Family Court.
Circuit Court also offers an in-house, staff-led Trans-Parenting divorce education program, also run through the DRCB. Circuit Court is now requiring all dissolution litigants with minor children to complete either the Trans-Parenting class through Circuit Court or similar approved programming run by an outside provider prior to being granted a dissolution. We also require all such litigants to complete the Up-To-Parents.org web-based worksheets. We have also been offering a program called Rollercoasters developed by the Trans-Parenting organization for children ages 5 through 12 whose parents are divorcing; many participants have found this to be a valuable and helpful program.
In 2010 Circuit Court initiated a Brief Focused Assessment program, in which a narrowly defined question or issue is referred to a service provider, usually a mental health clinician, who conducts an investigation and reports findings and a recommendation back to the court.
Contact Persons: Nikki Angel/Alice Kuzemka/Merilee Frey, 219-755-3488, email@example.com.
Judge Elizabeth Tavitas
Lake Superior Court Room Three has adopted an ADR Plan designed to provide primarily mediation and facilitation services to low income families, as well as parental counseling regarding parenting time particularly where complex issues exist such as reintegrating an absent parent into a child’s life, when mental health issues of the parent or the child are a factor, or when the relationship between the parents has deteriorated to the point that their conflict has caused emotional harm to the child. ADR funds may also be used to provide parenting time coordination in high conflict cases which otherwise would not require therapeutic intervention.
The funding provided by the Family Court Project in 2004 enabled the creation of a Family Court Pro Se Legal Clinic at the Lake Superior Court, Room Three, location in the Gary Courthouse. Through cooperation and coordination with the Indiana 1st Judicial District Pro Bono Committee and Indiana Legal Services, Inc. the clinic offers free family related assistance with filing pleadings to qualifying families. Volunteer attorneys are available to provide basic information and assistance with the preparation of pertinent pleadings. Eligibility is determined by the Federal Poverty Level Income Guidelines.
Lake Superior Court and Lake Circuit Court have also produced a Cooperative Parenting video through the use of Grant Funds which explains the obligations of parents and attorneys with regard to the use of cooperative measures in domestic relations cases. This video has been place don the Cooperative Parenting website for Lake County.
Contact Person: Victoria Hadrick, 219-881-6157, firstname.lastname@example.org
Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura
Juvenile Court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program provides for low-income families to be afforded the opportunity to participate in mediation. Juvenile Court has also implemented its own Parenting Class specifically for unmarried parents. The Parenting Class is offered once a month and is taught and managed by our 2 mediators, one of which is a psychologist. We have also arranged for the parents to have the opportunity to proceed right into a mediation after the class if they so choose; this allows for the parents who already have an agreement or who can agree quickly to sit down with one of our mediators and resolve the issues within 30 minutes, without the necessity of making arrangements for a typical mediation and without having to pay the customary fees related to same.
|Learn more about the Lake County Family Court Project - Juvenile Court|
The LaPorte County Project uses the information sharing model and tracks and shares information regarding other cases (both civil and criminal) primarily with the CHINS and Delinquency court. The Project has also utilized retired a Juvenile Court Magistrate to do what we call “facilitation,” a non-adversarial dispute resolution process that we use in CHINS cases at the very beginning of the life of the case. The parties have been meeting with the neutral party prior to coming into court for a continued initial hearing to work out adjudication as well as to develop an agreed upon disposition. The process has resulted in significantly fewer contested fact-finding hearings and reaching permanency more quickly.
The LaPorte County courts hear self represented divorces once a week during night court. In an attempt to assist those courts, as part of our Family Court Project, one of our magistrates as developed a checklist of all the steps that a litigant has to take before coming to court. Our goal is to develop a self-help center in both the Michigan City and LaPorte court houses that will include computer access and staff to answer questions.
Contact Person: Chip Cotman, 219-326-6808, email@example.com
|Learn more about the LaPorte County Family Court Project|
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.
Contact Person: Donald Hannah, 765-608-9709, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Learn more about the Madison County Family Court Project|
Marion County’s Family Court Project is dedicated to providing guidance and leadership that has enhanced the services available to those who use the judicial system. In June of 2008, the Marion Circuit and Superior Court’s Family Resource Center opened in Room W125 of the City-County Building. The Family Resource Center assists families with legal disputes by providing easy access to information on a variety of legal and social service resources. The Family Resource Center’s In-House Mediation program was launched in July of 2009 to assist modest means and self represented divorce filers with children. The Family Resource Center now offers several mediation programs to fit the needs of Marion County residence. Additionally, since the closing of the Marion County Law Library, the Family Resource Center has become a primary site to provide information and access to self-help resources for pro se litigants. The Access Program is an extremely effective and popular in-house parenting coordination program. The program is free to those who participate and continues to grow. We have one full-time case manager who works with couples to create a parenting time plan, to which both parties agree. This plan adheres as closely as possible to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. The case manager monitors the progress of each situation to facilitate parenting time arrangements through the transition period until all parties are comfortable with their situation, usually about 2 months.
Contact Person: Mellisica Flippen, 317.327.3705, email@example.com
|Learn more about the Marion County Family Court Project|
The goal of the Martin County Family Court Project is to provide a constructive process by which families can develop and maintain positive conflict resolution skills so they are empowered to make positive decisions for their family in the future. The program assists families in developing conflict resolution skills, co-parenting plans, and provide individual and community resources designed to maintain positive familial relationships. The program encourages the exploration of family-focused processes in CHINS, Delinquency, and/or Termination cases. Highly litigious families are offered opportunities to develop conflict resolution skills so litigation is minimized. At-risk families will be identified and services will be provided to families, regardless of income, to assist in developing the skills and providing the services needed to develop a more positive family structure and maintain the family integrity. These services will be provided with an understanding and respect for the culture and values of each individual family.
Contact Person: Gloria Rahman, 812- 367-1120, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Learn more about the Martin County Family Court Project|
Monroe Circuit Court recently began utilizing the “Related Cases” and “Family Jacket” functions in the Odyssey case management system on a trial basis to provide improved tracking and coordination of family court cases.
Monroe County has also implemented an ADR Plan to increase filing fees to subsidize mediation services to low-income parties. The Family Court Coordinator provides mediation and facilitation services at the Family Court Project office. Indiana University School of Law students conduct mediations at the Viola J. Taliaferro Family and Children Mediation Clinic site, under the supervision of Professor Applegate. All student mediators are registered Family Law Mediators. The mediation program also has utilized the pro bono services of local attorneys and members of the Community Conflict Resolution Project of Bloomington. Judges can also refer cases to the family court coordinator for specifically designated services for pro se litigants.
In 2010, the Family Court Project collaborated with the District 10 Pro Bono Project to provide on-site assistance to pro se litigants in family law cases. Since June, 2010, “Counsel in the Court” has brought volunteer attorneys to the Justice Building on a weekly basis to give parties assistance with their issues on a walk-in basis. Attorneys help with completing forms and pleadings, and give brief legal advice. Students from the Indiana University School of Law have also assisted in this program by conducting intakes with parties prior to their meeting with an attorney.
A group of local family law lawyers as also developed a standardized form for a limited GAL investigation. The judge completes the form to specify what is needed: a home visit, school visit, school records, criminal records, etc. The judge may call an attorney from the Volunteer GAL list or contact District 10 to recruit a volunteer attorney. The volunteer GAL completes the investigation, prepares a report, and may or may not make a recommendation, and testifies in court. The limited, specific nature of the court’s request means that the GAL does not have ongoing or review responsibilities in the case.
Probation officers with experience in working with at-risk families are another resource for obtaining objective information about the parties and their children in a timely manner. This resource has been used only when parents make serious allegations regarding the safety of the children, and both parents are without financial resources to pay for a guardian ad litem, custody evaluation or other investigative services. Beginning in 2010, several civil judges and the deputy chief probation officer began meeting to streamline our process that began in 2005 to insure the most efficient use of probation investigations. By the revised standards, judges can request a probation investigation by completing a standardized order, and specifying the scope of the investigation, which might include a home visit, school records, criminal records check, etc. The standardized and “limited scope” orders have reduced the probation officer work load to approximately 5 hours per referred case. The probation officer completes the investigation, prepares a report, and testifies in court. The probation officer’s investigation may also be helpful in identifying community resources to assist families in need.
Contact Person: Colleen McPhearson, 812-349-2094, email@example.com
|Learn more about the Monroe County Family Court Program|
The Owen County Family Court Project collaborates with the Viola J. Taliaferro Family and Children Mediation Clinic at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law -Bloomington (“IU Mediation Clinic”) to provide low-cost, professional mediation services to low income families in divorce, paternity, and CHINS cases. Law students conduct most of the mediations; however, prior to conducting mediations, the law students must become certified Domestic Relations mediators through an intensive state-sponsored course taught at the law school. Students are supervised throughout the mediation process, and the clinic director is directly involved in the more complicated mediations. Private mediators and the Mediation Project Administrator have also been utilized when there is a conflict or law students are unavailable. In developing this program, the Judge, the Mediation Clinic and the Administrator have developed written protocols and forms to insure that the process comports with the needs and ethical considerations of self represented parties.
Contact Person: Ginnie Phero, 812-855-9229, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Learn more about the Owen County Family Court Project|
The Parke County Family Court Project identifies eligible families from reviewing information sources, primarily from screening intakes. If the family meets necessary criteria 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, 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.
Contact Person: Christine Meagher, email@example.com
|Learn more about the Parke County Family Court Project|
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.
Contact Person: Alison Cox, 219-465-3521, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Learn more about the Porter County Family Court Project|
It is the mission of the Putnam County Family Court Project has been to provide ready and affordable Alternative Dispute Resolution services to families working through divorce, post-dissolution, paternity, and guardianship issues and to achieve efficiency and time savings for the court and its staff when such cases are referred to facilitation. The Project maintains an updated listing of community resources to provide to individuals and families with needs in addition to ADR services. Families referred to the Project are monitored for multiple case involvement, aiding in the determination of the need for case-coordination within the Putnam County Courts.
Contact Person: Susan Clark, 765-653-5974, email@example.com
|Learn more about the Putnam County Family Court Project|
St. Joseph County uses the information sharing between multiple courts model, generally referred to as case tracking. When a family is identified as having multiple cases, an initial letter informing the referring Court of the multiple is sent. A Family Court Specialist prepares subsequent “case tracking" report that provides basic information about the pending multiple litigation for all the judges, attorneys, and parties involved with the family. The case tracking report may summarize outstanding orders in each case and advise how orders can be obtained.
The project also uses a screening intake procedure to quickly assess for the appropriateness of mediation and/or the identification of special needs, high-risk social issues, and/or possible multiple court involvement. Referrals are taken formally from judicial officers. The screening form takes about 45-60 minutes to complete in a private interview with each parent and a Family Court Specialist. A letter summarizing the family's issues is sent to the referring court advising what initial services or interventions would be appropriate. A Family Court Specialist assists families in finding appropriate assistance for their needs in the community. The needs assessment is accomplished through the screening intake or may be delineated by a referral source.
In addition, a variety of case management services are being provided by the Family Court Specialists. At one end of the continuum are "low impact" case management services, such as coordinating needed services for families and monitoring compliance with referrals or court orders. At the other end are case management services that are "high impact,” involving more direct contact with families and service providers and providing more frequent and intensive advisory reports to the Courts.
Contact Person: Beth Kerns, 574-235-9662, firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Learn more about the St. Joseph County Family Court Project|
The focus of Tippecanoe County’s Family Court Project has been to provide ready and affordable alternative dispute resolution services to families involved in divorce, paternity, and guardianship cases. The philosophy of project mediators is to empower families to work together to make decisions in the best interests of the family. A list of community resources is available for individuals and families. When the IV-D Child Support Division of the Prosecutor’s Office is involved in a case, expedited mediation services are provided to families with concurrent disputes associated with custody, parenting time, or other relevant matters. Expedited mediation sessions are conducted one (1) full day per month with two (2) or three (3) mediators available throughout the entire day. Expedited mediation sessions are conducted in the Courthouse and generally take forty-five (45) minutes to one (1) hour. There is no cost to participants for expedited mediation services. Tippecanoe County also provides parenting coordination services and bilingual mediation services.
Contact Person: Magistrate Faith Graham, 765-423-9295
|Learn more about the Tippecanoe County Family Court Project|
Contact Person: Scott Wylie, 812-402-6303, email@example.com
|Learn more about the Vanderburgh County Family Court Project|
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