Civil case fee will fund child custody exchange program

By Alissa Jacob

DeKalb County Board approved a Neutral Site Custody Exchange Fund to help the children of divorced parents by keeping the parents apart to prevent conflicts.

The fund will collect $8 from the plaintiff and defendant of civil cases, according to minute meetings. Anthony Cvek, DeKalb County Board member, said the money will go to the costs of operating the Neutral Site Custody Exchange program, staffing security, managing the location the children will be dropped off at, using this location, installing security cameras and training staff.

Cvek said there have been confrontations among parents, which can negatively affect children on an emotional level. He said now a parent can drop his or her child off at the Family Service Agency, 14 Health Services Drive, and the other parent can pick up the child there to prevent confrontation with the child’s other parent.

“It is unfortunate that programs like this are necessary since the adults can’t behave, but it is the best interest that the children be looked out for,” Cvek said.

Riley Oncken, DeKalb County Board member, said the fee starts July 1. The program will start after the money is collected and the Neutral Site Custody Exchange Program is set up.

Oncken said the County Board and the Family Service Agency are hoping to begin the Neutral Site Custody Exchange program by the end of this year.

“I think it is potentially going to be a great program,” Oncken said. “We were approached by the Family Service Agency, and after discussing it with judges and other attorneys who practice family law we concluded that there is a need for a program of this type.”

Misty Haji-Sheikh, DeKalb County Board member, said the program is for parents involved in a custody battle, but she thinks parents will use this program even after the custody battle is over.

“I have divorce in my family and I understand there are difficult issues in families with divorce. There are times when divorced spouses can’t agree on anything,” Haji-Sheikh said. “The current County Board takes the citizens’ needs very seriously and we work very hard to do the best for the people of DeKalb County. This program is one way [of doing that].”