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. The court launched ODR for Child Support compliance with Matterhorn in December 2016.
The article was authored by Court Administrator Kevin Bowling, Friend of the Court Administrator Jennell Challa, and Court Technology Consultant Di Graski.
ODR’s Impact on Ottawa County
“Following Ottawa County’s Implementation of ODR, it exceeded the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement’s 80 percent benchmark for the collection of current child support, meaning that the county became eligible to receive additional payments from the federal government.
Ottawa County has also slashed the number of child-support related arrest warrants by a third. This significantly eases the burden of the Ottawa County Sherriff, both in workload for the three deputies embedded with the FOC team and in jail overcrowding.”Excerpt from NCSC Trends in State Courts 2019 Report
What’s Next for Domestic Relations ODR
“Ottawa County and several of its sister counties wish to explore ODR tools that show promise in improving parenting time, with two distinct strategies. The first strategy is to apply ODR to parents’ initial creation of their parenting time agreements. Several Michigan FOCs believe that if they offer ODR tools to parents who seem to be working well together and express a desire to submit a stipulated parenting plan, then the ODR tools could serve the important functions of proving the parties with plain-English information and guidance, document assembly, and case tracking.
In contrast, a second set of Michigan counties is interested in testing whether ODR can help mitigate the chronic conflict they witness in highly contentious parenting-time cases—the proverbial 20 percent of cases that demand 80 percent of the court staff’s time.”Excerpt from NCSC Trends in State Courts 2019 Report
Congratulations to the staff of the 20th Circuit Court for their continued dedication to extend access to justice in Ottawa County and beyond.