Probate Court, often called the "family court," became part of true Family Court effective January 1, 1998. This change in the court structure has been mandated by the legislature. Traditionally, probate court has been divided into two divisions: Juvenile and Estates. Effective in January, the juvenile division work will be handled by the same personnel but will be known as the Family Division of Circuit Court. Part of the family division work will continue to be juvenile delinquency and child abuse and neglect cases. Services for youth include probation and Intensive Probation for delinquents, a day-treatment program, and a gender-specific program for girls. The court also orders foster care for institutional commitment of juveniles and neglected children, through the Family Independence Agency. In addition, the Probate Judge will be assigned divorce, custody and paternity cases which overlap with the traditional juvenile caseload, to assure that one judge handles all family issues for one family. The Probate Court estates division will continue to handle the estates of deceased persons, guardianships and conservatorships for legally incapacitated persons, and mental illness cases. Part of its guardianship program includes the appointment of a Public Guardian to manage the affairs of people who are unable to tend to themselves and who have no family to do so. The Public Guardian services is provided through a contract with Catholic Family Services which began in 1998.
Probate & Juvenile Court Judge
Judge John Keuvelaar