Friday, November 23, 2007

Family Law: Indiana Statutes on Domestic Relations Alternative Dispute Resolution

If nothing else, writing this blog has taught me something important - that regardless of what we think we know there is always something new to learn. Until earlier this week, I had no idea of IC 33-23-6 which has as its title: Circuit Court and Superior Court Domestic Relations Alternative Dispute Resolution.

I can say that I unaware of this statute because I have never seen its implementation in the counties where I usually practice. With my curiosity aroused, I will need to find out some more about it locally. Meanwhile, let me publicize the statute a bit.

IC 33-23-6-1 allows counties who "meets the requirements of this chapter" to charge an additional $20.00 for court costs.

IC 33-23-6-2c) describes the sources for the fund established under IC 33-23-6-2(a) or (b) as:

(1) the alternative dispute resolution fee collected under section 1 of this chapter for the circuit court, superior court, or probate court, respectively; and
(2) copayments collected under subsection (d) if:
(A) a county chooses to deposit the copayments into the fund; and
(B) the county specifies in the plan adopted by the county under section 3 of this chapter that the copayments will be deposited in the fund.
IC 33-23-6-2(d) states how the funds shall be used:
The funds shall be used to foster domestic relations alternative dispute resolution, including:
(1) mediation;
(2) reconciliation;
3) nonbinding arbitration; and
(4) parental counseling.
I file this article under family law because the statue includes paternity cases. See IC 33-23-6-2(b). What the statute does not make clear is whether the alternate dispute resolution would apply to modification

One other question left open - to my mind, at least - is how this process would apply to older cases. Those parties did not pay into the fund. Which leads me to believe that they cannot be brought into the ADR process. Unless, of course, the program allows them into the ADR system by paying the additional fee.

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