Brown County Juvenile Court Early Evaluation Program (EEP)
Often cases may be referred to the Brown County Juvenile Early Evaluation Program, commonly referred to as EEP or Mediation, which is a dispute resolution process designed to promote satisfaction through improved efficiency, reduced cost, and faster resolution of juvenile disputes in Brown County Juvenile Court.
What exactly is EEP?
EEP is a short-term, confidential process designed to help parties without attorneys, and even parties with attorneys, to work through paternity, custody, visitation and child support issues as easily as possible. If your case is referred to EEP, you will attend a session at the Court led by a Court-appointed mediator who serves as a neutral third party and who conducts the EEP session. The mediator will assist the parties to resolve their differences through negotiation. The process is less formal than litigation with sessions generally lasting 3 hours.
What kind of cases are usually settled by the use of EEP?
- Parties who are trying to establish paternity of a child or children
- Parties trying to work out a fair and reasonable parenting time schedule
- Parties trying to negotiate the right amount of child support
- Parties trying to change custody or work on a shared parenting schedule.
Who is the Mediator?
- A minimum of 12 hours of basic mediation training
- A minimum of 40 hours of specialized family or divorce mediation training
- 14 hours of specialized training in domestic abuse issues provided by the Supreme Court of Ohio Dispute Resolution Center, and any other criteria as directed by the Court.
How does the process begin?
Upon approval of the case for mediation, the matter will be set on the calendar and the parties will be given a Scheduling Notice with the date, time, and location of the EEP session. A final pretrial with the assigned Judge or Magistrate will also be scheduled at this time.
With this scheduled notice, will be an order for the parties to pay a nominal fee. This is usually divided, but it will be up to the Judge if the parties do not agree. This must be paid by that date or the matter will be set back on the docket. Payments are to be made with the Clerk of Courts located in the Brown County Juvenile Court, 510 E. State Street, Georgetown, Ohio, 45121. The sessions will be scheduled for 3 hours and shall be set to begin at either 9:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m.
What happens during the session?
The EEP session will be divided into three phases. The first phase is Information Gathering; at this phase, the Mediator will oversee any discussion to allow each party the opportunity to speak and present their concerns. The Mediator will seek additional information from the parties, if necessary.
The second phase will involve the Mediator meeting privately with the parties to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position and to discuss probable outcomes while working to negotiate a settlement or agreement.
The final phase will allow the Mediator to present feedback and options to both parties present at the session. If represented, the parties will be given an opportunity to consult privately with their attorneys to review and discuss the Mediator’s feedback. Once the parties reconvene, the Mediator will pursue the opportunity to come to a full or partial agreement.
This process is intended to provide a quick and speedy resolution to the oftentimes burdensome and lengthy litigation. However, the Mediator, upon permission from the Court, may schedule another EEP session if additional information or collateral data is needed. An additional mediation fee will be required if this needs to be scheduled.
What happens after the session?
The Mediator will prepare a Memorandum of Agreement that will outline the basic structure of the agreement. The parties will review this document and sign it. If a Judge or Magistrate is available, the Mediator will read the agreement into the record and the Court will mail out a copy of the Judgment Entry adopting the agreement.
If the parties are represented by an attorney, the Mediator will forward a copy of that agreement to the attorney who will prepare a Judgment Entry for the Judge to sign.
If no settlement is reached, the Mediator will notify the assigned Judge or Magistrate that the matter should be returned to the normal docket. The Mediator will not be permitted to participate any further in the case and will not be available to testify during litigation.