“Alternative Dispute Resolution” means the process of resolving matters in pending litigation through a settlement conference, neutral case evaluation, neutral fact-finding, arbitration, mediation, other non-judicial dispute resolutions process, or combination of those processes. It is the policy of the Court to encourage the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in accordance with Title 17 of the Maryland Rules of Procedure.
The Court offers the following forms of ADR:
- Mediation – A mediator, who is an impartial person with whom the parties work; without providing legal advice, assists the parties in reaching their own voluntary agreement for the resolution of all or part of their disputes.
- Mediation in Non-Domestic Cases: Mediation may be ordered in a Non-Domestic case after an Answer is filed.
- 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 (PDF) 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.
- Child Abuse and Neglect/Termination of Parental Rights Mediation. Mediation may be ordered or referred in any Child Abuse and Neglect case. Mediation is required in all Termination of Parental Rights cases. For more information regarding this program please see the policies and procedures and brochure below:
- Settlement Conferences with Senior Judges/Magistrates – A Senior Judge or a Magistrate may conduct settlement conferences where the parties can discuss issues and positions in an attempt to settle the dispute by agreement or by means other than trial; they may recommend the terms of an agreement.
- Facilitation – An attorney assists the parties in reaching settlement of any or all issues on a Pro Bono basis. They may suggest options to the parties or recommend terms of an agreement.
For more information regarding Alternative Dispute Resolution, please visit the Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office (MACRO) website.
The Court maintains a list of Practitioners approved by the Administrative Judge to conduct Alternative Dispute Resolution for the Court:
- Agreement to Mediate (PDF)
- Civil Confidential ADR Statement (PDF)
- Family Confidential ADR Statement (PDF)
ADR Evaluations/Data collection
The Circuit Court for Howard County will now be using survey monkey to collect evaluations related to your mediation experience as well as statistical collection. Please visit the survey here or use the below QR code.