Family Court Services is comprised of Family Court Services, Domestic Support, and the Voices for Children program. These departments serve both Domestic Relations and Juvenile Courts.
Family Court Services
Team Leader: Kathy Serfozo: (440) 326-4858
Cases come to Family Court Services by Court Order or by a party making a request. The issues handled by Family Court Services include divorce, dissolution, custody, parenting time, and includes cases where there is non-compliance with existing court orders.
Family Court Services covers six major areas:
- Court-Ordered Mediation
- Pro-Se Mediation
- Supervised Visitation
- Home Inspection
- Seminar for Separating Parents
Mediation allows the parents and a neutral mediator to work together to gather information, isolate issues of disagreement, generate options to settle those issues, negotiate among those options, and reach a mutually satisfactory agreement to accommodate the needs of both parents and their children.
The Pro-Se Mediation program enables parties who divorced, established parentage in this county, or obtain an administrative order of paternity through the Lorain County Child Support Enforcement Agency to avail themselves of mediation. Issues for mediation include property that has not been returned or transferred, exchange medical insurance information, unpaid medical bills, noncompliance with parenting time schedules, and establishing parenting time.
The Investigation assists the Courts in determining parenting time orders. This assistance may include an investigative report with recommendations to the Court regarding parenting time, as well as implementing, monitoring, or supervising parenting time. Information is gathered through interviews with parties and outside sources. An investigation may be requested by either a client or his/her attorney and requires an accompanying Court order to begin the assessment.
The Home Inspection is a report to the Court regarding the living environment of the parties. The Home Inspection assists the Court in determining the most appropriate placement for the children and must be initiated by a Court Order.
The Seminar for Separating Parents provides an educational opportunity to inform unmarried, divorcing, and parents getting a dissolution, about the legal and emotional issues involved with parenting time. The 3-hour presentation provides pertinent information and resources early in the legal process and strives to enhance the likelihood of parental cooperation. Attendance is mandatory for parents with minor children, resulting from the Court’s philosophy that a child’s future is impacted by parents’ ability to minimize conflict. The seminar is provided at no cost to the participants.
Voices for Children
Program Manager: Tim Green (440) 329-5556
Lorain County CASA/GAL Program http://www.vfclc.org/
Voices for Children (VFC) is affiliated with the nationally recognized Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). Voices for Children’s purpose is to provide guardian ad litems (GALs) to the Court to advocate on behalf of the abused, neglected, and dependent children coming before it.
The GAL volunteer undertakes an investigation into the circumstances and family life of the child. They review records, interview parents, relatives and foster parents, talk to teachers, neighbors and most importantly, the child. Upon completion of the investigation, the GAL appears in court, provides the information and make a recommendation to the Court as to what course of action is in the best interest of the child.
GAL volunteers complete 30 hours of pre-service training, which includes four classroom sessions (30 hrs) and courtroom observations. All GALs are screened, interviewed and a criminal background check through the Web-Check System is completed. The Judges administer an oath and the volunteers are then recognized as Officers of the Court. In addition, there is a continuing 12 hours of education required annually.
The success of the Voices for Children Program is due to the commitment of the volunteers, support staff, private citizens, community organizations, the business community and the Voices for Children Board. The Board assists the program in fund raising, marketing and public awareness activities.
The volunteers represented a wide diversity, similar to the population of Lorain County.
- 132 active volunteers providing 12,949 hours of service
- Ages – 21 to 60+
- 93 females and 39 males
- Education spans high school graduate to post college graduate
- Diverse racial mix – Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American
- Employments status – not employed, part time, full time, retired
- Volunteer average – 1 case/ 2 children
IV-D Domestic Support
Program Manager: Margie Tores (440) 326-4843
The IV-D Domestic Support Unit provides judicial services to the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA), operated by the State of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Ohio’s child support program is a federal, state and county partnership charged with creating and implementing programs that meet federal and state laws and regulations. The contract provides funding for the operation of the Domestic Support Unit and includes full and partial reimbursement of salary and benefits for 16 court employees, including two magistrates.
The purpose of the Domestic Support Unit is to provide hearings to address all issues involving the support of children, including default and contempt. The unit provides staff to prepare and file all journal entries pertaining to child support in the Juvenile Clerk’s Office.