Shaunathan C. Bell
Ninth Judicial Circuit
TO: The Local Media
FROM: Presiding Circuit Judge Shaunathan Bell
DATE: January 11, 2022
Presiding Circuit Judge Shaunathan Bell is pleased to announce the appointment of Attorney Colby Matthews as the child support referee for the 9th Judicial Circuit. Mr. Matthews will preside over child support enforcement actions in the Circuit Courts and District Courts of the circuit, which includes DeKalb and Cherokee counties. The actions are brought pursuant to the Social Security Enforcement Division under Title IV-D.
Judge Bell collaborated with the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts in Montgomery to secure this program for the citizens of our circuit. In a vast majority of these cases, the non-custodial parties are not represented by an attorney. The custodial party seeking the enforcement of a child support order is represented by the child support division of the Office of the District Attorney. The Department of Human Resources keeps and maintains the records and assigns staff to manage the pending cases.
The Code of Alabama (1975) Section 12-17-330 promulgates the duties and parameters of the referee program. Although many counties throughout the State of Alabama already utilize a referee, Mr. Matthews is one of the first to be appointed to cover a multi-county circuit. The purpose of this new program is to allow individuals a faster route to establishment, collection, and enforcement of child support orders.
The court system processes thousands of different cases each year that involve all kinds of controversies. This program will not only help Title IV-D child support cases get processed sooner, but it will also allow the courts to free up docket time to schedule other matters in which a referee is not authorized. Accordingly, this program will indirectly aid in the more efficient and timely processing of other cases within the court system.
The judges of the 9th Circuit understand that one of the obligations of the courts is to provide a speedy resolution for the citizens of the circuit in both criminal and civil matters. With that goal in mind, we will continue to explore every avenue available to meet that challenge.