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Seventh Judicial District to Serve as Family Law Trial Procedure Pilot Project Site

March 1, 2017

Des Moines, March 1, 2017—The Iowa Supreme Court selected the Seventh Judicial District to serve as a pilot project site for instituting new, informal family law trial procedure. The informal procedures should expedite the resolution of cases that involve less complicated factual circumstances.

The new trial procedures are available for a wide range of family law matters including divorces; legal separations; paternity (unmarried parent) cases; and modifications of child custody, visitation and child support. Informal family law trials are ideally suited for cases in which there are no complex issues and, in the case of divorces, minimal property or debts.

"The Seventh Judicial District is very excited and honored to be the pilot project site for this new informal trial process," Chief District Court Judge Marlita Greve said. "We believe this process will improve access to justice for all Iowans. It also responds to the changing demands placed on our judicial system with the increasing number of self-represented parties and the increasing workload of judicial officers."

In an informal family law trial, the judicial officer presiding over the hearing will question the parties. Additionally, the rules of evidence are relaxed, which means that parties may offer any testimony or exhibit without objection by the other side. The judge will determine what weight, if any, to give the testimony or exhibit. Self-represented litigants in particular may find this informal trial procedure easier to navigate than the traditional trial process.

The role of an attorney in an informal family law trial is limited to stating the issues, answering questions from the judicial officer, and providing legal argument at the conclusion of the trial. This limited role may require less time to prepare for trial, which could reduce the cost of representation for parties who choose to hire an attorney and should result in faster resolutions for all parties.

To learn more about this unique pilot program, visit our Family Law Trials page or call Court Administration at (563) 326-8783. The Seventh Judicial District includes Cedar, Clinton, Jackson, Muscatine and Scott Counties, serves over 300,000 Iowans and processes over 70,000 cases annually.

For More Information:

Kathy Gaylord, District Court Administrator (563) 326-8783 or kathy.gaylord@iowacourts.gov

Iowa Supreme Court 
1111 East Court Avenue 
Des Moines, IA 50319 
515-281-3952

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