Help with Parenting Time in Protection Orders

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Cook County’s Domestic Violence Division is not a family court accustomed to making custody determinations, but instead a high-volume court hearing protection orders and domestic violence criminal matters. Finding time in busy court calendars to address all of the details involved in creating a parenting plan so that safe, effective child-related relief can be included in protection orders was therefore a challenge. Two innovations proved to be immensely helpful: a newly created position called the expediter, which operates in many ways as a domestic violence-informed mediator, and a supervised visitation liaison.

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Domestic violence pilot court

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One challenge for Hennepin County was an inconsistency in the inclusion of child-related relief in orders for protection. After gathering information about the issue, the team developed a domestic violence pilot court, specifically for cases in which such relief is requested. The materials here include sample pilot court calendars, the pilot protocol, an overview of the activity used for training judicial officers and staff, and a sample order. The pilot court proved to be successful and has since expanded its docket.

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Judicial survey instruments

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Cook County differs from the other FCEP sites in that the court participating in the project is not a family court but a domestic violence court, so its focus in the project is improving the availability of child-related relief in protection order cases. One challenge identified early in the project was disagreement among practitioners, including judges, about the appropriateness of child-related relief in protection orders. To determine the scope of this disagreement, the judges were surveyed in an effort to find common ground for a shared understanding of the purpose and utility of child-related relief in protection orders.

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