Improving Child Support Enforcement Outcomes with Online Dispute Resolution

Kevin Bowling, Jennell Challa, Di Graski
August 2019

Part of the 2019 Trends in State Courts publication from the National Center for State Courts, this report summarizes Ottawa County, Michigan’s efforts to use Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) tools to improve child support outcomes for families. In 2016, Ottawa County implemented ODR tools with the goal of reducing the number of contempt hearings and improving order compliance. Initially, the parent received a text with the information that the case was eligible for contempt. The text invites the parent to meet with child support personnel. If the case proceeds to filing an action, the parent then receives a second text with a hearing reminder. Ottawa County also implemented a hearing check-in system designed to bolster the prehearing settlement conference. Ottawa County found implementing these tools had huge benefits for its contempt cases.