I am excited to share with you two new projects we have been working on at the Domestic Relations Court to help families going through our court system. Both projects are still being developed and should be completed within the next year.
The first project we plan to roll out to the public later this year is our new, more user-friendly website. The new website will be more uniform with the other Delaware County websites. It is designed to perform well on a computer or hand-held devices.
What I am most excited about with the new website is our Virtual Resource Center. The Virtual Resource Center is designed to help people better understand the court system. It provides answers to some frequently asked questions and provides definitions of legal terms.
Additionally, the new Virtual Resource Center will provide easy access to other online resources, including a free child support calculator. The feature, I predict, that may be used the most is the link on the new website for downloading the proper forms used for each type of case.
For example, if a married couple with no minor children wants to end their marriage, they would select “Dissolution Without Children Packet.” After making their selection, all forms needed for a dissolution without children will download to their electronic device.
I want to thank the Delaware County IT staff for working with us to help create our new website.
The second project we are working on is an in-person Resource Center. This Resource Center will be available for people to come into the courthouse and give them access to computers and forms to complete the necessary paperwork to file a case or file a motion in a case. Once they have completed all of the necessary forms, they can then go down one floor at the courthouse and file the documents in the Clerk of Court’s office.
Courts can only act upon properly filed requests such as motions or complaints. By having a Resource Center, every person can more easily gain access to the basic building blocks of justice to at least begin their case or reactivate a prior case.
So, why are these projects important? Well, it is important to understand that a lot of the individuals going through the Domestic Relations Court do not have attorneys representing them. The Virtual Resource Center and the in-person Domestic Relations Court Resource Center were designed to break down barriers for self-represented individuals by offering greater access to computers, legal information and all necessary forms.
While the court cannot provide legal advice, these resources can help give some framework or parameters within the legal process.
Please understand, I think it is in everyone’s best interest to have an attorney represent them if they have a case in our court. Consulting an attorney is still necessary to obtain legal advice, and may be very helpful to anyone seeking guidance and advocacy for their case.
Why? Because every day the court hears cases that involve issues of utmost importance to people, for example, custody and visitation with their children, child support, property distribution and spousal support. These issues involve some of the most important decisions a person makes in life. It is best to have an attorney who understands the issues, our legal system, and can advise you throughout the process.
Many people choose to represent themselves rather than having an attorney represent them for financial or other reasons. If a person decides not to have an attorney, they need to understand the legal procedures and have information accessible for them to successfully navigate the legal process.
I want to do all that I can to ensure everyone has access to justice. This is important so they can make informed decisions about what is best for them and most importantly what is best for their children.
Randall D. Fuller is judge of the Domestic Relations Division of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Fuller is a life-long resident of Delaware County.