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Wake County Assigns One Judge for All Child Support Cases

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RALEIGH — Wake Countyhas instituted a new idea to streamline child support cases, so the people who need help receiving payments can get them quicker.

Imagine that every time you went to child support court your case was heard by a different judge. Until last week that was a reality in Wake County. Now one judge has been assigned to hear all of the cases. The hope is that familiarity will breed efficiency.

Last year she was practicing law inApex, today Judge Kristin Ruth presides over every child support case in Wake County.

"This is one of the places where you cannot just fix everything in one hearing," Ruth says. "These people come back to you on several different occasions, and one judge knowing that case saves a lot of time."

For 12 years, Stephanie King has been trying to increase her child support payments.

Thursday, Ruth ordered the father of King's 12-year-old daughter to more than double his payments. King thinks seeing the same judge on two occasions helped her case.

"I think it benefits just because that judge knows your case, she knows your situation," King said.

Currently, Wake County is handling about 19,000 child support cases. Those in charge of child support enforcement hope that having one judge will help reduce the backlog.

"Hopefully, one of the things we will see out of this is that we are able to make our courtrooms more effective and more efficient and to have more cases heard," says Lillian Overton, a child support enforcer.

Ruth has been assigned to the bench in child support court for six months as an experiment. After that period, the Chief District Court Judge will evaluate how well the idea is working.

Currently, child support court is held three days a week in Wake County. Many people, including Ruth, would like to see that number increase.


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