Domestic Relations Court
About Muskingum County Domestic Relations Court
The Muskingum County Domestic Relations Court presides over cases of termination of marriage, child custody, parenting time, child support, paternity, civil protection orders and stalking protection orders.
COURT STAFF CANNOT PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE
This website is designed to help you understand the processes of our Court. If after visiting our website, you still have questions, please feel free to call the Court at 740-455-7190 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Information - Links & Downloads
- Staff Directory
- Local Court Rules
- Required Affidavits
- Standard Order of Parenting
- Representing Yourself In Court
Jeffrey A. Hooper
Thomas J. Tompkins
Assistant Head of Security/Bailiff for Magistrate TompkinsEXT 105
- Assessment / Mediation
- Parent Education
- Pro Se Family Law
- Cooperative Parenting
- Domestic Violence
- Our Family Wizard
Assesment / Mediation
For most people, going to Court is unpleasant, perhaps sometimes even frightening. Hearings in Domestic Relations Court cases that involve emotionally charged issues such as the determination of parental rights and responsibilities or the amount of child support to be paid can be a difficult experience for all people involved including the children. Experts seeking ways to eliminate the adversarial “win/lose” atmosphere of traditional court proceedings have long advocated the use of dispute resolution (DR) methods such as mediation to help parties settle their differences in a way that meets the parties own needs. Muskingum County Domestic Relations Court has offered mediation to families who are going through a divorce or post-divorce proceedings for many years. This services is offered at no cost to the participants.
In recent years, Muskingum County Domestic Relations Court has also utilized Case Assessment with our Parenting Services Coordinator to aid pro se litigants with parenting issues and child support issues prior to a Court hearing. The Court employs a professional Parenting Services Coordinator who will work with the parties to identify services that may be appropriate such as mental health services, drug and alcohol services, domestic violence counseling or parenting education. The Parenting Services Coordinator will not, however, make decisions for the parties, will not take the side of one party or the other and will not tell the parties what to do to resolve their dispute. He will further work with the parties to identify a parenting plan that is in the best interest of their child.
If parties are dealing with contested issues during a court proceeding, mediation can be scheduled with a Court Mediator. The Mediator is a professional from the Court who has been trained in mediation. In an informal atmosphere, the mediator serves as a facilitator to help parties plan for the resolution of the dispute, if appropriate. The mediator will not, however, make decisions for the parties, will not take the side of one party or the other and will not tell the parties what to do to resolve their dispute. If the parties, after having met with the Court Mediator, are able to arrive at a mutually satisfactory resolution to the contested issues, the agreement is then prepared by the mediator unless one or both parties have an attorney which the attorney shall then prepare the agreement. The mediation agreement is not binding on the parties, however, until approved by the Judge or Magistrate assigned to the case.
Mediation services are also available to parties before the filing of a case. This services may be assessed by calling the Court and making a request.
All persons with children who are seeking custody of a child whether in a divorce or a case involving only children in Muskingum County are required to participate in the two hour mandatory Helping Children Succeed After Divorce Seminar presented by Muskingum County Domestic Relations Court. To register for the class you will need your case number and you will need to call the Court at 740-455-7190.
Seminars are held twice monthly with one morning class and one evening class.
|January 27||9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.|
|January 28||5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.|
|February 24||9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.|
|February 25||5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.|
|March 30||9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.|
|March 31||5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.|
|April 27||9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.|
|April 28||5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.|
|May 18||9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.|
|May 19||5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.|
|June 29||9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.|
|June 30||5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.|
|July 20||9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.|
|July 21||5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.|
|August 24||9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.|
|August 25||5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.|
|September 28||9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.|
|September 29||5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.|
|October 26||9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.|
|October 27||5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.|
|November 23||9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.|
|November 24||5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.|
|December 14||9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.|
|December 15||5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.|
Family Law Clinic For Self-Represented Parties
The Family Law Clinic is a joint collaboration between the Muskingum County Domestic Relations Court, Legal Aid and the Muskingum County Bar Association. The Clinic is for those who cannot afford an attorney, those who are confused about the legal system or those who just have questions about a family law issue.
The Clinic is offered on the 2nd Thursday of every month with the exception of December and there is no clinic held in December. The Clinic allows you to meet with a volunteer lawyer to ask questions about:
- Custody Issues
- Domestic Violence
- How to fill out the pro se forms.
- Divorce and other related domestic relations matters.
- Court room procedures and case preparation.
The Clinic is for people with limited income dealing with family law problems in Muskingum County.
The Clinic is held at the Domestic Relations Court building located at 22 N 5th Street Zanesville, Ohio 43701 with sign in beginning at 5:00 p.m. and the clinic beginning at 6:00 p.m. Please plan to arrive as close to 5:00 p.m. as possible as the clinic will only take up to 15 people.
Cooperative Parenting Class
The Cooperative Parenting Class is a six week course presented by Muskingum County Domestic Relations Court. The Domestic Relations Court employs two professional instructors who work with parents in learning how to effectively co-parent their children.
The Cooperative Parenting Class is open only to those who have received an Order to attend. Under special circumstances, parents who have received an Order from a Court other than the Muskingum County Domestic Relations Court are permitted to attend.
The cost of attending the class is $100.00 per person and should be paid prior to attending the first class. In order for the class to be effective, both parents must attend the class together.
There are two types of domestic violence protection orders: Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order and Civil Stalking Protection Order. Parties filing a Petition for either order should plan to go before the Judge for an ex parte hearing at the time of filing of the Petition. A full hearing will then be scheduled for a later date.
The forms required for both Civil Protection Orders and Civil Stalking Orders are mandated by the Ohio Supreme Court and must be used by all parties. The forms may be obtained from the Ohio Supreme Court website or from the Muskingum County Clerk of Courts office. The Muskingum County Clerk of Courts hours of operation are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Neither the Clerk of Courts nor the Court may assist you with the completion of these forms. If you are a victim of domestic abuse you may consult with a victim’s advocate at Transitions. Transitions assists victims of domestic abuse by not only providing a temporary shelter for victims but also by helping the victim obtain a civil protection order and by coming with you to Court for support. This service is free to victims. Transitions can be reached at 740-454-3213.
Our Family Wizard
The Court is not affiliated in any way with OurFamilyWizard.com, however, Our Family Wizard is a useful online resource which can be utilized to help families reduce conflicts over parenting issues.
The Our Family Wizard website provides a neutral zone for parent communications to help manage the challenges of shared parenting with a former spouse or partner. This innovative tool allows parents to share information without putting children in the middle. It is a vehicle for maintaining impartial and accurate records to avoid costly “he said, she said” disputes.
Our Family Wizard offers five useful tools to reduce stress and conflict between parents.
1. Calendar – allows parents to schedule activities, swap responsibilities and set up parenting plans in advance.
2. Expense log – give parents the ability to approve individual expenses and even make electronic payments without conflict directly through Our Family Wizard.
3. Message Boards – allows families to send, receive and maintain private messages. Miscommunications can be virtually eliminated by verifying when messages are sent, received and opened.
4. Journal – allows parents to post comments about days on the calendar.
5. Info Bank – allows parents to share important information such as emergency contact information, immunization records and much more. Files can even be uploaded for virtual document storage.
The Court may Order the use of this online tool in high conflict cases in order to reduce stress upon the children and to encourage the parents to find different ways to resolve any conflicts without involving the children. The parties may, however, agree to utilize the services of this online tool without the intervention of the Court.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is mediation?
- Why would I want to try mediation?
- What issues can be mediated?
- How much does mediation cost?
- What is the attorney’s role if I choose to mediate?
- Do the Attorneys attend the mediation with me?
- May another person who is not an attorney attend mediation with me?
- Is Mediation always appropriate?
- Am I required to first obtain a referral from the Court in order to participate in mediation?
- How long does mediation take?
- What if mediation does not lead to an agreement?
Mediation is an organized problem solving process that utilizes a professional, impartial third person (the mediator) whose role is to guide the process of the discussion between the parties to assist them in attempting to reach a mutually agreeable solution. The mediator will not determine what the parties must do or should do. Unlike litigation where an authority figure imposes a decision on the parties, mediation allows the parties to create their own best outcomes. The parties determine whether an agreement will be reached and, if so, the terms of that agreement. Since the parties often know their needs better than anyone, they are frequently in the best position to create an outcome that is tailor-made to their own needs as well as the needs of their children. When people create their own solutions, they are often more satisfied with the results and thus more willing to actually carry out the agreement. After an agreement is reached, the parties or their attorneys can ask the Court to order the agreement which was agreed to in mediation.
Mediation has many advantages. First, the parties are always in control of the outcome. Many people appreciate the chance to have more say in determining their own future as well as their children’s future. Second, mediation is conducted in an informal manner in a private, confidential setting rather than a public forum such as a courtroom. Third, although parties in mediation are always given plenty of time to carefully consider options, seek advice and make informed decisions, mediation is frequently faster than other resolution processes. Fourth, since the mediator represents neither party, the mediator can assist them in discussing matters in a way that is helpful in reaching mutually beneficial solutions. Fifth, mediation is free and therefore less expensive than other resolution processes.
It is sometimes difficult to know whether mediation can help without first trying it. Prior to going to mediation, people have often already made unsuccessful attempts to resolve matters. Since discussion in mediation is quite different than that which takes place in other contexts, parties frequently make progress in mediation despite not having done so using another process.
Almost any issue in a domestic relations case can be mediated including, but not limited to, parenting times, parental decision-making, special expenses, property division and support.
The Muskingum County Domestic Relations Court employs three professional mediators who have been trained in mediation. Parties do not pay for mediation services.
Parties do not lose the ability to be represented by an attorney simply because they have chosen to mediate. Parties are encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney throughout the mediation process and before they enter into a mediated agreement. However, since the parties in mediation are themselves actively involved in the creation of the outcome, mediation often saves time and money for the parties involved.
Attorney attendance at mediation is generally neither required nor prohibited. Most people do not choose to have their attorney attend mediation with them.
In general, parties are permitted to have a support person attend mediation with them. All parties must agree on the terms and conditions under which they are willing to participate in mediation.
Although mediation often assists parties in reaching a satisfactory solution even when they had little hope this was possible, there are circumstances when mediation is not appropriate or is only appropriate if certain conditions are in place. For example, mediation may not be appropriate if a party is fearful of expressing his or her needs in mediation.
A person who is or may be a victim of domestic violence may decline to participate in mediation. A person who is or may be a victim of domestic violence has the option to have a support person present at mediation. It may be necessary to put safety procedures in place during mediation to help provide for the safety of a person who is or may be the victim of domestic violence as well as other persons present at mediation.
In cases where a prior Court Order requires the parties to participate in mediation before filing something with the Court, parties are not required to first obtain a referral from the Court. All other cases, parties must first obtain a Court Order prior to participating in mediation.
Mediation is generally a much quicker way to arrive at an outcome that is satisfactory to all parties involved. Every mediation is different and therefore the time it takes for mediation is generally unknown. It is common, however, for mediation to last approximately one hour to one and one-half hours.
No one can force the parties to reach an agreement. All parties and the mediator reserve the right to terminate mediation at any time. If no agreement is reached in mediation, the Court will set the matter for hearing and it will be presented by the parties and attorneys, if any, to the Judge or the Magistrate who will then make a decision.