Indiana has no idea of the details of what goes on in its courts. We do not because we do not keep those kind of records.
I got thinking on this subject several weeks ago after I had an e-mail regarding statistical information about family law cases. The writer mentioned that they were awaiting information on child custody statistics. Let me list what I know we do not know about family law cases - at the trial level:
- How often fathers get custody.
- How often mothers get custody.
- How often there is a custody modification.
- How often the father gets custody on a modification.
- How often the mother gets custody on modification.
- How often there is a modification of parenting time/visitation.
- How often child support is modified.
- What is the average change (up or down) in child support.
- How many divorces are filed yearly..
- How many paternity cases are filed yearly.
We know these items because Indiana keeps statistics on the gross number of filings. If you want to check out what statistics are kept and what are the numbers, then go here.
I am sure that someone, somewhere thinks that lawyers and judges would want these numbers. Please remember that most lawyers and judges were not trained in statistics or social sciences. We are trained to think in terms of appellate decisions. Finally, (and I write this only semi-facetiously) lawyers are lawyers because our higher math skills were terrible. Bottom line: we do not think in terms of statistics.
Appellate decisions are much easier to track. These come from one source instead of 92 (the number of counties in Indiana). They are all public and actually online. Trial court judgments require looking at each courts' files.
For those who keep saying that Indiana's courts possess a bias against fathers in custody cases, I have to resort to Scots law: it is unproven. I have discussed this issue with several people and I have been annoyed at my inability to get this point across. Not enough information exists to give us any idea of a problem. (Yes, I know that just having the numbers about who gets custody is not enough to explain why there were certain outcomes.)
On similar point, Madison County has its Children in The Middle Seminar and other counties have similar programs. We have no idea of the effectiveness of these programs. Actually, we have no means of measuring their effectiveness. Having statistics on the subject of modifications or contempt's might give us some insight into how effective are any of these programs.
No, no business would be able to manage its business but never have we - lawyers and judges - thought of the court system as a business.
Before everyone gets up in arms, let me say that our court system lacks any means for implementing any changes to create better statistics. They may be inherently incapable of doing so (see preceding paragraph). Finally, we may never get the money out of the General Assembly for capturing statistical information about our court business.