Family Court Compliance Results at the Friend of the Court, 20th Circuit Court, Ottawa County Michigan
Hear from the 20th Circuit Court
Watch the video to hear from:
- Kevin J. Bowling, JD Court Administrator, 20th Circuit & Ottawa County Probate Courts
- Matthew J. Schmid, M.A. SCAO Mediator Assistant Friend of the Court: Field Services Ottawa County
- Rachel Russell, Judicial Clerk II, Ottawa County Friend of the Court
Read the Trends in State Courts Article on Their Success
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) recently published the Trends in State Courts 2019 report that examines court technology and other topics related to the role of courts in society. The report features an article from the 20th Circuit Court in Ottawa County, Michigan discussing the court’s process and outcomes using online dispute resolution (ODR) for Child Support compliance.
Before: Stressful Hearing Days for Families and Staff Alike
Prior to Matterhorn, Ottawa County’s 20th Circuit Court was running weekly show-cause hearings for parents who failed to make monthly child support payments.
Every Friday, as many as 100 very unhappy people would pack into the Friend of the Court’s offices. The hearing days were stressful for court staff, who had to shepherd them through check-in, meeting with a case manager, meeting with a court-provided attorney, and then going before the judge, all in a space of a few hours. Meanwhile, court staff tallied no-shows and began the process of issuing dozens of failure-to-appear warrants.
During the rest of the week, court staff spent much of their time preparing for the hearing days. They sent letters and communications about balances and hearings, organized files, and answered calls—in addition to their many other responsibilities. Managing all the warrants and hearings took significant staff time.
Solution: Collaboration and Communication Avert Hearings
In 2016, Ottawa County court leadership sought to allow their caseworkers to communicate more easily with their clients.
Additionally, the Friend of the Court sought to increase compliance with child support orders, reduce hearings, and reduce warrants.
Matterhorn Family Court Compliance Results
more child support collected.
The court realized year over year gains in child support collection.
fewer hearings per month.
After Matterhorn, the average number of show-cause hearings per month dropped from close to 400 (prior to launch) to around 300 per month.
fewer warrants per month.
The average number of warrants issued per month dropped from 143 to less than 100.
Comparison July-November 2016 (pre-launch) to January-December 2019.