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Ohio pilot program targets custody cases with domestic violence

During a child custody case, parents may go back and forth on several issues from how to divvy up holidays, how exchanges will take place and even when a new girlfriend or boyfriend can be introduced to the kids. Parents can either mediate or negotiate an agreement or even let the court decide.

There are some cases in which the court must be involved. These child custody cases involve situations in which domestic violence or abuse may be an issue in the relationship. A new project is being tested in Ohio with the intent to help provide judges with better direction in handling these types of cases.

The U.S. Department of Justice has authorized a $500,000 grant for the project. The project seeks to find a way to differentiate cases involving “high-conflict families” and ones involving domestic violence.

While there is a general goal that is being sought through this project, the exact process will remain more organic. There currently are no absolute parameters that have been set, but participants hope that this project will end up creating better access for courts to necessary information to help make final determinations in these types of cases.

The project at this point is being developed on an ongoing basis with funding set to last until 2015. Even if the money runs out, Diana Ramos-Reardon, domestic violence counsel at the Supreme Court of Ohio said that the work won’t stop there.

Assisting in the development of the project are attorneys, magistrates, judges and victim advocates. These individuals can each provide unique perspectives on how to make the process better.

As for individual cases in which a parent knows or fears that safety may be an issue, an Ohio family law attorney should be apprised of the situation immediately.

Source: Public News Service, “Domestic Violence Grant to Help in Ohio Child Custody Matters,” Oct. 21, 2013

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