ELECT KIRSTEN PSCHOLKA-GARTNER
FOR DOMESTIC RELATIONS JUDGE
Experienced • Fair • Family Focused
Kirsten Pscholka-Gartner was born and raised in Richland County, and understands the challenges and opportunities faced by its residents. She is a 1999 graduate of Lexington High School, and now lives in Lexington with her husband, Nino, their two dogs and two cats. Kirsten is an active member of her community, volunteering as a legal advisor for the Lexington High School Mock Trial Teams from 2005 to 2018, and serving as Councilwoman for the Village of Lexington for the remainder of an unexpired term from January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009.
Kirsten earned her undergraduate degree from Capital University in 2001, and her juris doctor from Capital University Law School in 2004. She is licensed to practice in the U. S. Supreme Court, the U. S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, and the State of Ohio.
Kirsten served as a Richland County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for six years. She was primarily responsible for felony appeals in the Fifth District Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Ohio. Kirsten also handled cases in the Richland County Juvenile Court and assisted the civil division with pending litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
For the last eleven years, Kirsten has served as a Magistrate in the Richland County Domestic Relations Court. She has been the Court’s Chief Magistrate since 2019. The families who come before the Domestic Relations Court deserve a Judge who treats them with compassion, fairness, and efficiency. As a Magistrate, Kirsten has done just that. She is responsible for a large docket, delivering timely, fair, and thorough decisions in the cases over which she presides. Kirsten also helped establish and presides over a review and sentencing program for individuals who are found in contempt for non-payment of child support. In 2017, the Court enforced the collection of more than $356,000 in annual child support payments. That amount increased to $442,000 in 2018. By the end of 2019, the Court enforced the collection of more than $564,000 in annual child support, which directly benefited children in Richland County.
Kirsten is a member of the Richland County Bar Association, the Ohio Association of Magistrates, and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. Kirsten has mentored law students through the Capital University Law School’s Women’s Law Association. For the last three years, Kirsten has served as a mentor to new Magistrates through the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Magistrate Mentorship Program.
Vision to Deliver Fair, Family Focused Results
Kirsten is committed to continue issuing timely, thorough decisions that follow the law and the Constitution as written. This promotes confidence in the judicial system and allows families to have a sense of finality at the end of their case.
One of the Court’s most important responsibilities is to act in the best interest of the children it serves. Coming to court is intimidating for adults, let alone children. To help alleviate some of that anxiety, Kirsten plans to create a child-friendly space where the Court can conduct interviews with children. Kirsten also plans to expand the Court’s existing children’s classes, which currently provide support and education for children whose parents are going through a divorce, to address the needs of children of never-married parents who are involved in custody cases.
Many of the litigants and children involved in Domestic Relations cases have suffered trauma in their lives. Kirsten intends to create a trauma-informed Court by training Court staff, Guardians ad Litem, and Home Investigators to recognize the signs of trauma, and issuing orders for trauma-based assessments, counseling, or other treatment in cases where trauma may be impacting the parties or children.
Another vital responsibility of the Court is presiding over civil protection order cases. Kirsten believes it is important to address the underlying causes of domestic violence, such as addiction, mental illness, or anger issues. To do so, Kirsten plans to issue orders for mental health or drug and alcohol assessments, counseling, and the DOVE program, which is designed specifically for domestic violence offenders, in civil protection order cases. Kirsten also plans to hold Respondents accountable for complying with any ordered assessments, treatment or programs through review hearings.
Based on her experience as a Magistrate, Kirsten believes that having both parents involved in their children’s lives is generally beneficial to children, and involved parents are more likely to financially support their children. Therefore, Kirsten plans to work with the Richland County Child Support Enforcement Agency to include the Court’s standard parenting time order when child support is established if both parents agree.
Kirsten is committed to making the Court more accessible to the public and improving its efficiency. She plans to implement settlement days to encourage parties to settle their cases earlier in the process. This will reduce the cost of litigation for the parties, and will also allow other cases move more quickly through the Court. Kirsten also plans to continue using remote hearing technology when appropriate. Finally, Kirsten plans to upgrade the Court’s technology by implementing an electronic filing system, upgrading the Court’s audio and video recording system, implementing a digital evidence portal, and implementing a digital check-in kiosk and displays with docket and Court information in the lobby.