(INDIANAPOLIS) - The Marion Superior Court has passed a new local rule allowing homeowners facing foreclosure in civil court the option of settlement conferences with their lenders.
Based on similar projects in Philadelphia and Connecticut, the conferences are mandatory for lenders if the borrower responds to a notice from the court.
The borrower must live in the house.
Settlement conferences, which are a form of mediation, began on a voluntary basis a few months ago with civil court judges urging lenders to participate if the borrowers requested it.
Under the new local rule, homeowners will automatically be notified about the option and asked to participate or decline.
Similar programs are already in effect in the city of Philadelphia and the state of Connecticut with about 20 to 30 percent of the homeowners participating.
Marion Superior Court Judge Cynthia Ayers says a similar response could keep about 3,000 families in their homes in Marion County, where the civil courts heard about 9,400 foreclosure cases in 2008 and almost 2,000 already this year.
Over the past six months, an attorney task force, representing lenders, homeowners, state agencies and consumer advocates, has worked with the civil court to develop the settlement conference program with the idea it might become a model for the state.
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