Family Services

Dorchester County Circuit Court
Family Support Services
206 High Street, Room 203A
Cambridge, MD 21613

  • Family Support Services Coordinator: Jessica Milligan-Ross
  • Telephone: (410) 228-1395
  • Fax: (410) 228-3775

Domestic Relations and Juvenile Magistrate: Daryl T. Walters
Family Services brochure (pdf)
Dorchester County DCM Plan for Family Cases
PLEASE READ BEFORE YOU COME TO COURT (PDF)


Family Support Services Provided Through the Court

Counsel for Minor Children

An attorney can be appointed by the Magistrate and Judge to represent a minor child. The fee for attorney representation is $100.00 an hour, for up to 10 hours, plus reasonable expenses.
An attorney can represent minor children in the following capacities:

  • Best Interest Attorney - In accordance with the Maryland Standards of Practice for Court-Appointed Lawyers Representing Children in Custody Cases. A Best Interest Attorney is a court-appointed lawyer who provides independent legal services for the purpose of protecting a child’s best interests, without being bound by the child’s directives or objectives.
  • Child Advocate - Pursuant to the Maryland Standards of Practice for Court-Appointed Lawyers Representing Children in Custody Cases. A Child Advocate is a court-appointed lawyer who provides independent legal counsel for a child and who owes the same duties of undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation as are due an adult client.
  • Child Privilege Attorney - Pursuant to the Maryland Standards of Practice for Court-Appointed Lawyers Representing Children in Custody Cases. A Child(ren)’s Privilege Attorney is a lawyer appointed in accordance with Nagle v. Hooks, 296 Md.123 (1983), to decide whether to assert or waive any statutory privilege on behalf of a minor child in a custody action.
Counseling

The Court can order parties to attend individual or family counseling in contested or high conflict cases. Fees are as set by the Court and the individual counseling agencies.

Drug & Alcohol Testing

The Courts can order a substance abuse evaluation, immediate urinalysis testing and/or random urinalysis testing through the Dorchester County Health Department - Addictions Program. The court can also order hair follicle testing to be performed by J. David Collins & Associates, LLC. Fees are set by the individual agencies.

Drug & Alcohol Addictions Treatment

If an evaluation by the Dorchester County Health Department - Addictions Program indicates that treatment is needed, the Health Department provides a full range of outpatient addiction treatment, including traditional and intensive outpatient services. Treatment is group oriented with the focus that addiction is a chronic, treatable disease. The cost of such treatment can be on a sliding scale fee as determined by the Health Department or by your insurance if it is available.

Home Studies

Home studies are conducted if ordered., You may contact family services for further information at 410-228-1395. The fee for a home study is approximately $350.00 per household, but can vary with each agency. A home study is usually completed within 60 days of the Court's order.

Mediation

The Court has an approved list of certified mediators. The Court can order two types of mediation:  financial/property mediation and custody, visitation, and/or child support mediation. The fee for mediation is $130.00 per hour which is divided equally among the parties. The Court can also order custody, visitation, and/or child support mediation through the Mid Shore Community Mediation Center, whose mediators must also be certified by the Court. There is no fee for mediation through Mid Shore Community Mediation. The list of certified mediators is located in the Clerk’s office of the Circuit Court for Dorchester County.

Parenting Seminar

The Dorchester County Circuit Court, in family law actions involving divorce, custody, visitation or child support, may order the parties to attend an educational seminar (MD Rule 9-204). The purpose of the seminar is to minimize the disruptive effects of separation and divorce on the lives of children.

In-Person class

Cooperative Co-Parenting: Held at Futures for Families, 29466 Pintail Drive, Suite 10, Easton, MD 21601 (Behind Walmart). The seminar is a six-hour course held over two evenings from 6:00-9:00 pm. Contact Kristin Roemer, Program Coordinator, at 410-703-8854 for dates, times, payment and to register for a class. You must pre-register to attend.

Online Class

Please visit the website at www.Dorchester.OnlineParentingPrograms.com
The cost for the online seminar is $40.00.

Self Help Clinic/Family Law Assistance

The Court offers a Family Law Assistance Clinic at the Courthouse in Room 101 every Monday between the hours of 12:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m and every Wednesday between 9:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., unless it is a state holiday. A family law attorney is available for a free consultation to complete the domestic relations forms provided by the Maryland Judiciary and provide information about how litigants can represent themselves in custody, divorce, child support, name change and visitation matters. The attorney does not represent you in court. Appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call Jessica Milligan-Ross at (410) 228-1395.

Supervised Visitation/Monitored Exchange

The Circuit Court for Dorchester County, in collaboration with Talbot County and Caroline County, holds their supervised Parent-Child Time program at Futures for Families, 9466 Pintail Drive, Suite 10, Easton, MD 21601.
Supervised access takes place when the court determines a need for guided contact with one of the parents, or it is necessary to establish or reestablish a parent/child relationship.

Hours of Parent-Child Time

Every Wednesday 6:00-8:00 pm
Alternate Sundays 1:00-3:00 pm & 3:00-5:00 pm
A court order must be entered to utilize Parent-Child Time.
Both parents must contact the Futures for Families Center and complete an intake before visits may occur.
Intake Fees $25.00 per parent (one-time fee)
Visits $30.00 per visit (paid by the visiting parent)
To contact Parent-Child Time, call Brenda Ramage, Program Director, at 410-924-1032. Calls will be returned only during the hours the center is opened for business.

Uptoparents.org or Proudtoparent.org

The parties may be ordered to complete an online program regarding their children and parental conflict. This is a website that reinforces what is taught in the seminar and aides parents in focusing on their children during this time of transition. UptoParents.org is geared towards divorcing and separated couples while ProudtoParent.org is for never married couples that are working out custody and visitation. There is no charge for these programs and each party must print a certificate once the website work is completed.

Other Possible Court Ordered Services

Psychological evaluations, high conflict parenting seminar, parenting coordination, Children in the Middle, and other services deemed necessary may be ordered.

All the above-mentioned fees may be waived by the Court if a formal motion/request is filed by the ordered party and a financial need is documented.


For more information:
Please contact Jessica Milligan-Ross at (410) 228-1395 and
See our “Resources and Useful Links” section on this website.