Family Support Services
James Speis, Family Magistrate
Lyn Pecoraro, Family Services Coordinator
30 Washington Street
Cumberland, MD 21502
In 1998, the Maryland Judiciary, with generous fiscal support from the Maryland General Assembly, established family divisions in each of its five largest jurisdictions. The family divisions have jurisdiction over all civil, i.e., non-criminal matters related to the family. Counties such as Talbot without separate divisions were provided with a family support and law case coordinator and a budget for services to families involved in the judicial system. Each jurisdiction has followed the mandate of Maryland Rule 16-204 to establish a spectrum of services and to reorient its case management processes to ensure the comprehensive and holistic treatment of families.
The court adversarial process can be destructive for families. Family cases therefore require a different approach. That approach mandates that family cases be expedited to minimize the trauma of litigation and to ensure safety and support for all family members. Families are given every opportunity to make ultimate decisions themselves - through educational programs and alternative dispute resolution techniques.
Some of the Family Service Programs Provided by the Circuit Court:
- Pro Se Assistance Project - The Allegany Law Foundation operates the Pro Se Clinic for Allegany County. Local, private attorneys rotate staffing and assist clients with filling out domestic relations court forms. Walk-in services are available every Tuesday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Courthouse Annex, 59 Prospect Square, Cumberland. This legal service is free, and there is no income screening. The contact agency is Allegany Law Foundation 301-722-3390.
- Co-Parenting Seminar - Two, three-hour sessions offering parents an opportunity to increase their understanding of the impact of divorce on their children and develop strategies for healthy co-parenting. Offered bi-monthly - Call (301) 777-2102 for details.
- Domestic Mediation Program - A resource for alternative dispute resolution. Non-adversarial and impartial in nature, it is provided to help families make decisions that work for them and resolve conflicts arising from parenting issues and concerns. The court maintains a list of court approved private mediators specially trained in family conflict. Call (301) 777-2102 for more information.
In Addition, the Following Services Are Either Available or in Development:
- Psycho Educational Programs for children of separation and divorce
- Mental Health evaluations
- Custody evaluations
- Substance abuse evaluations
- Family counseling
- Court diversion programs for juvenile offenders
- Guardian Ad Litem
- Community Resource Information
The Circuit Court for Allegany County recognizes its partnership with community resources serving families in transition.
For further information or comments, call Lyn Pecoraro, Family Service Coordinator (301) 777-2102.