Family Law Office
Circuit Court for Howard County
Family Law Coordinator
The Family Law staff review all domestic cases, except Howard County Department of Social Service child support cases. The office is not permitted to offer legal advice; however, we can answer any procedural or general questions regarding family law case procedure. Our primary goals are to ensure that cases are processed timely, efficiently and to order appropriate alternate dispute resolution services.
The Court is also committed to increasing and updating family services. Described below are our family services and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) programs. For more information about the Family Law Office, please call the Family Law Coordinator, at 410-313-2225.
Family Law Programs and Services
Most contested domestic cases are scheduled for a scheduling conference. The conferences are scheduled by the Family Law Office. All postponements can be faxed directly to the Family Law Office at 410-313-2413 or emailed to HCFamilylawoffice@mdcourts.gov and re-set accordingly.
Family Law Assistance ProgramSee the Family Law Assistance Program which provides free legal consultation on how to represent oneself and complete forms for family law matters.
- Mediation in Child Custody Cases: Mediation is usually mandatory in contested custody and visitation cases, unless there have been allegations of domestic violence. Parents will be ordered to attend two, two-hour mediation sessions with a court approved and qualified mediator. The Family Law Office generates the order for mediation after the scheduling conference. Counsel does not have to attend custody/visitation mediation. Parties are responsible for the fee.
- Property Mediation: Property mediation may also be ordered at the time of the scheduling conference. Parties must agree to participate in this type of mediation. Counsel does not have to attend mediation, although the mediator may request that they do so. Parties will be ordered to attend two, two-hour sessions with a court approved and qualified mediator. Parties are responsible for the fee.
- Mediation payments: The Court has a small fund for low-income litigants to assist with the fees of court ordered mediation. Additionally, some of our mediators will either offer their service at no cost to eligible litigants or will offer a sliding scale payment plan. Litigants are required to submit a fee waiver form (MS Word document) to the Family Law Office. The request will be approved or denied by the Family Law Coordinator using income based eligibility guidelines. Upon approval, the court will pay the entire cost of mediation OR refer the case and ask the provider to perform the service at a reduced rate or pro bono.
- The court offer two types of Parenting programs: in-class, and online. The court makes a determination on whether parties are to attend in-class or online classes. The in-class Parenting seminars are conducted by the National Family Resiliency Center (410-740-9553) in Columbia, Maryland. The seminars are to assist parents living apart to raise children. Parties are responsible for the fees. Once parties have been ordered to attend the classes they are to contact the NFRC to schedule the classes. Any questions regarding payment options should be directed to the NFRC.
- The court provides online co-parenting classes through www.howardcounty.onlineparentingprograms.com. The seminars are to assist parents living apart to raise children. Parties are responsible for the fees. Once parties have been ordered to attend the online classes they should contact www.howardcounty.onlineparentingprograms.com to register for the class. Any questions regarding payment options should be directed to www.howardcounty.onlineparentingprograms.com.
Custody EvaluationsChild Custody Evaluation: When parents are not able to agree upon a parenting plan for their children and the case meets the criteria listed in the Differentiated Case Management Plan, the Court’s social worker is able to conduct a custody evaluation. The Court determines and orders the custody evaluation. Parties may make a verbal request at the scheduling conference or the Court may order an evaluation.
Child’s CounselThe Court may appoint a child counsel in contested domestic cases. See Maryland Rule 9-205.1 for a thorough description of all factors associated with the appointment of a child’s attorney. A copy of the rule and appendix can be found at www.courts.state.md.us in the 157th report. Parties are responsible for the fees.
- List of court-approved child's counsel
Parenting CoordinatorBeginning in June 2007, the court has maintained a list of approved Parenting Coordinators. Parenting Coordinators for The Circuit Court For Howard County are mental health practitioners or attorneys with education, training, and experience in working with families of separation and divorce. Parent Coordination is a service designed to assist parents with child rearing and following the court order for custody and access. Parenting Coordination requires the consent of both parents before the Court will order participation. Parenting Coordination helps children by assisting parents resolve issues, communicate, and co-parent. Parties are responsible for fees. For more information about parenting coordination, please call the Family Law Office at 410-313-2225.
The Circuit Court for Howard County has established the following instructions for the processing of Guardianship cases. If you have questions regarding the instructions please contact the Family Law Office.
- Instructions for Guardians Completing the Annual Accounting for Guardian of the Property
- Forms required for Guardianship cases.
- Maryland Judiciary (www.mdcourts.gov)
- Peoples Law Library (www.peopleslaw.org)
- Howard County Department of Social Services (http://www.dhr.state.md.us/blog/?p=228)