The High Performance Court and Divorce Case Triage

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1 The High Performance Court and Divorce Case Triage Brian J. Ostrom, Ph.D., National Center for State Courts Debora Denny, J.D., Nebraska State Court Administrator s Office Serpil Ergun, Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court Shannon Roth, National Center for State Courts


3 Overview Divorce Case Triage and Why It s Important A tiered process (all cases move through the same set of prescribed steps) All parties receive the same services whether needed or not Burdens those where both sides are largely in agreement and just want to resolve the case in a timely fashion Takes resources away from families that may truly benefit from enhanced services Differentiating cases can preserve scarce court resources and will allow them to be directed toward more contested divorce cases where enhanced services are needed.

4 The Domestic Relations Triage Project Courts that triage domestic relations cases commonly screen cases to distinguish parties ready for resolution from those that may require greater court involvement and services NCSC was awarded a grant through SJI to explore different approaches to screen, prioritize, and adjudicate domestic relations cases. The committee chose to design a screening instrument that courts can use to determine which families need little to no court services

5 The Development Screening Tool

6 Rechtwijzer Legal Counsel

7 Holland Survey A series of background questions A series of personality questions Recommendations/ Referrals o Public Assistance o Mediation Final Legal Steps

8 Holland Survey Recommendations/Referrals Domestic Violence - Priority to get out and call authorities. Tools available for victims of Domestic Violence o Victim Netherlands o Safe Together o Domestic Violence Support Centre o Victim Pointer (a referral service) o The Counseling and Reporting Child Abuse

9 Other Tools and Forms Reviewed British Columbia: Justice Access Centre Client Information Sheet Jefferson County Child Support Services Problem Solving Court Assessment Form El Paso County, TX 388 th Judicial District Case Screening Instrument The form used by The Peacemaking Program of the Navajo Nation Complex Case Staffing Forms and processes in Miami and Connecticut

10 Developing a Divorce Case Screening Tool The purpose of screening is to grant a judgment of divorce at the earliest opportunity that best meets the needs of each individual family, while also ensuring parties receive the level of oversight and support necessary for a fair outcome.




14 Real Life Application What Other Courts Are Doing

15 Cuyahoga County, Ohio Domestic Relations Court

16 Cuyahoga County, Ohio Domestic Relations Court

17 Nebraska Domestic Relations

18 Nebraska Domestic Relations Transitioning traditional court case management process Plaintiff and Defendant 2007 Parenting Act amendments Parenting plan required Mediation required prior to contested custody Parenting education required Parent Information brochures Specialized ADR for domestic abuse, high conflict 2011: waive final hearing permissible

19 Nebraska Domestic Relations : Parenting Act Evaluation Research Program: is the Act being implemented? Impact: Reducing children s exposure to parental conflict? : High Performance Domestic Relations Court / Triage Chief Justice Mike Heavican s Leadership Conferences: 2014, 2015 NCSC presentation on triage, HPDRC: 2014 Leadership HPDRC Subcommittee: 2015 Eliminate 60 day waiting period; other goals