A Fast Track for Child Custody Cases is Launched Following a Twelve Year Old’s Suicide … Six Years into His Parents’ Child Custody Battle

The South Carolina family courts in Charleston may be on to something.

It didn’t come about easily though.

Husband and Wife were going through a divorce.

When they originally filed for divorce, Son was about six years old.

By the time Son had turned twelve, the custody battle over him was still raging on.

Apparently though, Son had had enough. He took his own life.

Out of that tragedy, a local family court judge drew inspiration to try to “fast track” many child custody cases, and spare many children from being the subject of long, bitter legal fights between their parents.

And last month the so-called Fast Track Custody Initiative made its debut.

Participation in the streamlined program is strictly voluntary at this point. And cases involving mental illness, substance abuse or domestic violence are excluded.

The “system within a system” aims to settle temporary residential placement of children within four months of filing of the case … based on a fifteen minute temporary hearing.

Where the judge believes it is appropriate, he or she may appoint a guardian ad litem to fact-find and advocate for the child or children – within a sixty day period.

Once the guardian ad litem has made their recommendation, the parties are ready for mediation and the custody case should be resolved within ninety days of the temporary hearing.

It’s unclear, however, what happens if parents are unable to reach an agreement at mediation in a fast-tracked case.

The fast track reportedly cuts about nine months off the average child custody case timeline.

By implication, the child custody portion of the divorce case is bifurcated (split off) from other aspects of the case, and the remainder (property division, alimony, etc.) would presumably follow a traditional timeline.

An initiative well worth a closer look.

Read more in this [Charleston SC] Post and Courier article: Putting child custody on fast track.