Columbus, Ohio (Sept. 13, 2012) -- The Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) announced today that this year’s winner of the Judicial Administration and Legal Reform Committee Innovative Court Practices Award is the Stark County Family Court for its “Never-Married Parents Program.” The purpose of the Innovative Court Practices Award is to bring greater visibility to exemplary programs in Ohio’s courts and facilitate the transfer of those programs to other courts in the state.
OSBA President Patrick Fischer presented this year’s award at the annual meeting of the Ohio Judicial Conference in Columbus, and was accepted on behalf of the Stark County Family Court by Judge Rosemarie A. Hall (pictured below with Chief Magistrate Sally Efremoff).
The Stark County Family Court’s Never-Married Parents Program is designed to help separating non-married parents work together to resolve important issues such as custody, visitation and child support. The program provides parents with information about their rights and responsibilities as parents as well as resource information to help them support their children emotionally, physically and financially.
The Never-Married Parents Program offers two sessions, which are free to participants. In the first session, a magistrate and a parenting therapist talk with parents about their rights, parenting strategies and communication skills. In the second session, free mediation is provided to help parents resolve issues without a court hearing, and a representative of the local Child Support Enforcement Agency assists parents in calculating child support so they are able to mediate these issues successfully.
“The Stark County Family Court’s program is one of many examples of real-world changes in our courts that bring positive results to the members of the communities they serve,” said OSBA President Pat Fischer. Toledo Municipal Court Judge Michael R. Goulding, who chairs the OSBA’s Judicial Administration and Legal Reform Committee, accepted the committee’s award last year on behalf of the Toledo Municipal Court Probation Department Technology Initiative.
Award submissions are evaluated on criteria including creativity, the newness of the program and its effectiveness, as well as the transferability of the concept to other courts and whether the program addresses significant issues that are regional in scope.
The Ohio State Bar Association, founded in 1880, is a voluntary association representing approximately 25,000 members of the bench and bar of Ohio as well as nearly 4,000 legal assistants and law students. Through its activities and the activities of its related organizations, the OSBA serves both its members and the public by promoting the highest standards in the practice of law and the administration of justice.