CIRCUIT COURT FOR KENT COUNTY
Family Services Division
Kent County Circuit Court
Rebecca Kelly Taylor, Esquire
Coordinator, Family Services
The following Family Support Service Programs and Services for referral by the Circuit Court for Kent County:
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Custody and Visitation Mediation
- Day-of-Court Access Mediation Program (DOC)
- Marital Property Mediation
- Settlement Conference
- Family Law Assistance Program (FLAP)
- Co-Parenting Education Seminar
- Children’s Divorce Education Group
- Supervised Visitation Program
- Attorney Appointments for Children
- Home Study Investigations
- Substance Abuse Assessments
- Mental Health Evaluation
- Family Counseling
- Access to Evaluative Services (ACES)
- Family Support Service Referrals
Where appropriate and feasible, the Court may order parties in a contested custody or visitation action to attend two sessions of mediation. Kent County Circuit Court currently has a list of designated custody / visitation mediators that is maintained in the Clerk of Circuit Court’s Office by the Coordinator, Family Services. Upon request by the parties and/or their attorneys’, the qualifications for each approved mediator may be reviewed.
The fee for custody / visitation mediation is one hundred dollars ($100) per hour. Each session is two hours and the Court orders two sessions. Fees are usually split evenly between the parties and are paid in advance to the mediator. A party may file with the Court either a motion to waive fees or a motion for reimbursement of paid fees and if approved, the Court may assess the prepaid fee as an additional court cost at the conclusion of your case.
Actions for initial child support are scheduled on the second Wednesday of each month. In those cases, where no prior custody order has been issued, parties who are present may elect to talk with a mediator and where possible, mediate a written custody and visitation plan for their child. The mediator and both parties may reappear before the Domestic Relations Master and advise him or her “on the record” of any agreements reached as well as submit in writing a custody and visitation plan for their child.
In addition, parties may elect to mediate marital property issues. There is an approved List of Marital Property Mediators maintained also. Fees charged by marital property mediators generally begin at one hundred and twenty-five dollars ($125) per hour.
Settlement conferences are conducted by a retired Second Circuit Court Judge on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. All cases are set for ten o’clock (10 am) and are held in the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office on the 1st floor of the Kent County Courthouse which is located at 103 N. Cross Street, Chestertown, MD 21620. When these cases settle, the attorneys may have the agreement entered “on the record” that same day or submit a written agreement to the court; case that does not settle, will be scheduled for a merits hearing.
The Kent County Family Law Assistance Program (FLAP) is held on the 1st, , 3rd and 4th Wednesday of each month from 9 am to noon in the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office on the 1st floor of the Kent County Courthouse which is located at 103 N. Cross Street, Chestertown, MD 21620. FLAP operates on a first come, first served basis and participants may not exceed Income eligibility guidelines. Additional Wednesdays each month may become available on an ad hoc basis; thus please feel free to inquire by contacting Coordinator, Family Services at 410-810-1059.
A Maryland attorney is available to meet with you individually to discuss your specific family law concerns. The attorney will assess whether you should proceed
un-represented or make a referral for you to a legal services provider. Assistance provided by the attorney may also include: ascertaining the appropriate documents to file; particular questions about a specific domestic relations forms; reviewing documents such as mediated agreements or parenting plans.
Information and referrals to other self-help legal assistance resources are available. For instance,
|Family Law Hotline||1-800-845-8550|
|For Spanish Speakers||1-877-293-2507 or 443-519-4054||Espaňol|
|Mid-Shore Pro Bono Project||410-837-9379||Espaňol|
|Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service MVLS||1-800-510-0050||Espaňol|
|Kent County Public Library||www.kentlib.org|
|Peoples Law Library Interactive tools||www.peoples-law.com|
|Child Support Calculator||www.dhr.state.md.us/csea/||Espaňol|
Joint Parenting is required in all family law cases where custody or visitation is contested. Joint Parenting is a two part educational seminar dealing with child development, grief, and child-focused decision making; introduction to conflict resolution techniques and mediation of parenting plans.
After Divorce may be ordered in highly contested custody cases such as modifications of custody or visitation Communication skills and problem-solving techniques for co-parents who have not been able to cooperate. This class is offered on an as needed basis.
Both seminars provide six hours of instruction. Seminars are held on the 3rd and 4th Mondays of each month from 6 pm to 9 pm at the Kent County Public Library (rear entrance), Yellow Building which faces 207 Calvert Street, Chestertown. The fee is $40; a sliding fee scale is available upon request.
Teens-in-the-Middle School Guidance Counselors facilitates discussion on topics such that young teens may share their concerns about relationships and changes their experiencing in their families. Each session of Teens-in-the-Middle meets one hour a week for seven or eight weeks and it follows the After School Program schedule.
For All Seasons, Inc. operates this Court’s supervised visitation and monitored exchange program which is held at the Kent Family Center, 601 High Street, Chestertown, MD 21620. The program operates every other weekend on Friday evenings from 6 to 8 pm and Sunday afternoons from 1 to 5 pm and every Wednesday night except the third Wednesday night of each month.
All clients must be court-ordered to use these visitation services. This process may be accomplished by contacting the Program Director at 410-714-1411. Each party must undergo an intake interview and pay a one-time intake fee of twenty-five dollars ($25) before any visitation may commence. For supervised visitation, the visiting parent is charged a thirty dollar ($30) fee for each two-hour visit For monitored exchanges, both parents are charged five dollars ($5) per exchange. Payment is due at the time of intake, visitation or exchange.
The court may appoint an attorney to represent children in a family law actions that have contested custody issues. There are three different roles that a child’s attorney may be requested to perform for the court: Child’s Privilege Attorney; Best Interest Attorney; and Child Advocate. Usually, both parties are ordered to deposit a fee retainer of two hundred and fifty dollars ($250) into the escrow account of the Child’s Attorney; specific payment options are outlined in the actual court order.
The Court requires a Home Study Investigation in custody cases where a non-parent is a party to such an action. The Kent County Department of Social Services (KCDSS) performs these court-ordered home studies and files a written report to the Court. A fee of two hundred dollars ($200) must be paid in advance to KCDSS before such a home study investigation is undertaken. When a criminal background check is required, KCDSS will coordinate that process and include it in its report to the court for an additional fee of eighty-five dollars ($85).
Kent County Behavioral Health (KCBH) conducts all substance abuse assessments for the court and is located a 144-B Lynchburg Street, Chestertown, MD 21620. A party so ordered must schedule an appointment by calling KCBH at 410-778-2616.
A substance abuse assessment may include but is not limited to: random urinalysis, interviews and other diagnostic tools, and where warranted a recommended treatment plan. Each party is responsible for the cost of their own substance abuse assessment. The fees charged for such an assessment generally begin at one hundred dollars ($100).
Where a party or a child’s mental health is at issue, the Court may order a mental health evaluation by a psychologist or a psychiatrist and may include but not limited to psychological testing, interviews, other diagnostic tools, review of prior mental health treatment plans and other health-related records. A written report is required and a recommendation may also be requested. Referrals are made to mental health professionals and an average cost for a mental health evaluation is one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500).
The court may make referrals for family counseling to private and public mental health counselors. The types of counseling services available range from individual, group and family counseling. These same providers accept a range of payment options: no fee, sliding fee scale or co-pay basis.
The court has a sliding fee scale program available to litigants for any family support services listed above. A litigant’s income must be verified and not exceed established income guidelines in order to be eligible. Upon request, a litigant may obtain a Motion to Waive Family Services Fee from the Coordinator of Family Services or by stopping by the courthouse.
Abuser Intervention Program Espaňol
Domestic Violence Services Espaňol
Employment Services Program Espaňol
Kent Family Center Espaňol
Victim Witness Services