You are now a participant in a pending family law case in the Circu it Court for Caroline County. At the start of your case, I want you to know that this Court is committed to making this process as easy as possible for you and your family. Whether you are proceeding through a divorce, dividing property, have a dispute concerning custody or visitation of children, or perhaps all of the above, the goals of this Court remain constant.
First – The management of your case – from its filing to the final decision – will proceed with one overall consideration – to reduce the conflict between you and other parties, as well as extended family members, and provide a neutral setting where the disagreements can be resolved, either through mediation or a court hearing.
Second – This Court demands that all parties treat each other with respect, dignity and courtesy. This Court will not become a battleground for families to do harm to each other or their children.
Third – Where children are involved, this Court’s philosophy is that you, as parents or other caretakers, will take mutual responsibility and make reasonable efforts to create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of the children. It goes without saying that decisions you jointly make concerning the short-term and long-term needs of your children are better than those imposed by the Court.
Please keep in mind that court hearings are not the only way to resolve your differences. Early on in your case, you will hear of mediation as a way of coming to an agreement before a contested court hearing. I ask that you consider and take advantage of the mediation services offered by the Court. Why?
1) You will directly participate in finding solutions;
2) Your dispute will be resolved sooner which is good for all parties, especially children;
3) Mediation is less expensive;
4) You, more than likely, will find mediation to be less stressful than court proceedings.
Whether you are proceeding with or without a lawyer, please remember that the court rules of procedure apply to all. This includes coming to court hearings on time, and being prepared. If you have questions, ask your lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, court personnel may provide information, but may not give legal advice. Court staff may direct you to resources that may provide legal assistance, although legal representation cannot be guaranteed.
In closing, this Court fully understands the importance of your case, and believes that your sincere good faith efforts to achieve a solution will make this experience more rewarding for all.