Family Services

Elisa Dickens
Family Services Coordinator
(410) 758-1773 or Ext. 5128
Elisa.Dickens@mdcourts.gov

The following Family Services and programs are available to the Circuit Court for Queen Anne's County:


Appointment of Counsel for Minors

The Court may appoint counsel for minors, upon consideration of the best interests of children in contested issues, and at the request of either party. Parties are to pay a deposit fee retainer into the appointed attorney’s trust account as outlined in the Court order. Attorneys appointed may serve 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.

Children's Program

The Court may order parties to enroll children into the Children’s Program when deemed necessary. The Children’s Program is designed to help your child(ren) understand the feelings of change that may be occurring in their family, with group discussions among peers that are experiencing similar change. Children will attend two sessions with the assigned instructor. The fee for court-ordered classes is $20 per child and paid in cash or money order on the first day of class.

Counseling

The Court may order one or both parties to attend individual or family counseling in contested or high conflict cases. Fees are set by the Court and/or the individual counseling agencies.

Family Law Clinic

The Family Law Clinic provides access to a volunteer family law attorney. The attorney provides legal assistance, through a free and limited consultation on how to represent yourself. The consultation may also include answering or clarifying questions about court procedures, making referrals to legal service providers or community resources. The attorney may also aid in obtaining and completing the appropriate forms related to matters of divorce, custody/visitation, modification of child support, guardianship and name change.

The Family Law Clinic operates on a first-come, first-served basis and is located within the Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court, Suite 114, on the first floor. The Family Law Clinic operates every day, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. In addition, evening hours are provided every 1st and 2nd Thursdays of the month at the Kent Island Public Library from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM, and the 3rd and 4th Thursdays of the month at the Centreville Public Library from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM. No services are provided on the 5th Thursday of the month. Read the flyer here.

If you are unable to attend a clinic refer to Self-Help Legal Resources on this page

Home Study Investigation

The Court may order a home study of one or both parties. The investigator will conduct a full investigation and have full access to all outlined documents named in the Court order. The investigator will prepare a written report of findings, including recommendations, to the Court. Criminal background check is required for all adult residents of the home. Verbal testimony may also be required by the Court. These investigations are utilized by the Court for custody and adoption cases. The fee for a home study in a custody case is $250 and an adoption case $350. These fees must be paid in advance and directly to the investigator identified in the Court order before the investigation will begin. The investigator requires ninety days (90) to complete a report and file with the Clerk.

Mediation

The Court can order mediation for different types of matters; financial/property, parenting time (visitation), child access (custody), and child support.

The program is designed to assist parties with setting clear expectations, reducing conflict, and avoiding the cost, stress and reliance on the court to handle parenting issues. The Maryland Parenting Plan Tool has been created to provide a written agreement describing how parties will care for and make decisions about their child(ren). Mediators and parties are encouraged to use this tool as an aid to reach an agreement.

Court-Appointed Mediator: The fee for court-appointed mediation is $125.00 per party in the form of a money order, cashier’s check, or certified check made payable to the Circuit Court for Queen Anne's County. Payments in cash, personal check, by credit card or debit card will not be accepted.

Day-of-Court (DOC) Mediator: Trained mediators from Community Mediation Upper Shore (CMUS) Inc. are available in the courtroom on select Tuesdays so parties may begin mediation or at a minimum have their intake interview completed. Parties may elect to mediate and return to the courtroom before-the-end of the docket to report on the status of their progress. There are no fees for DOC mediation with CMUS.

Financial/Property Mediator: The Clerk of Court maintains a list of qualified mediators for financial/property disputes. Attorneys and the parties are encouraged to agree on a mediator, if there is no agreement the Court selects a mediator. Mediators may charge two hundred dollars ($200) per hour. Each party pays one-half of the fees in advance and directly to mediator.

Online Parent Education Program

The Court may order parties to enroll in an online co-parenting class when deemed necessary. The Online Parent Education Program is a six-hour educational class that is offered online to help parents manage family changes in a positive, resourceful manner and is designed to minimize the disruptive effects of conflict, separation and divorce on the lives of children and parents. Parents will learn skills that can help their children adjust to the situation. The focus is on the importance of parents meeting the needs of their children emotionally and financially. The online platform also introduces the Maryland Parenting Plan that can be used during mediation that outlines a written agreement describing how parties will care for and make decisions about their child(ren). The program is offered in English and Spanish.

Other Family Service Resources

Language Portals: The Maryland Judiciary provides Court interpreters to those who are Limited English Proficient (LEP) in civil, criminal, and juvenile proceedings and are paid for by the Administrative Office of the Courts. To request a spoken language interpreter for a court appearance, please submit a Request for Spoken Language Interpreter (CCDC041) form.

Maryland Court Forms: Use the websites below to find most Maryland court forms.

Maryland DHS Child Support Administration: Works with both parents to provide the financial, medical and emotional support children need to grow and thrive.

Mid-Shore Counsel on Family Violence (MSCFV): A resource aimed at ending abuse. MSCFV is a point of access for assistance on domestic violence in the following counties: Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot. MSCFV provides programs that meet victim’s unique needs, challenges and strengths. Programs offered at MSCFV are as follows: Holistic Case Management, Emergency Shelter, Community Education, Economic Empowerment, Hispanic Services, Abuser Intervention, Adult Anger Management, Homelessness Prevention, Domestic 24/7 Hotline, Housing, Immigrant Service, Law Enforcement Support, Legal Program, Mental Health and Counseling, and Pet Safety Program.

People’s Law Library: A resource for self-represented litigants to obtain information about the law, including summaries of the laws, links to primary and secondary legal sources and referrals for legal services.

Queen Anne’s County Department of Human Services: Assists people in economic need, provides preventive services, and protect vulnerable children and adults in Maryland.

  • Phone: (410) 758-8000
  • Email
  • Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Address: 125 Comet Drive, Centreville MD 21617
  • Website

Psychological Evaluations

The Court may order one or both parties to submit to a mental health evaluation by a Court appointed evaluator. The evaluation may include, but not be limited to the following: psychological testing, interviews, other diagnostic tools, review of prior mental health treatment records, and other health-related records. The average cost for a mental health evaluation is two thousand dollars ($2,000) and shall be paid by the parties. A final report is filed and sealed by the Court.

Self-Help Legal Resources

Family Law Attorney Hotline: A free service to people with basic family law questions. The hotline is staffed by attorneys experienced in family law and there is no fee for this service.

Family Law Forms Helpline (Pro Se Hotline): This hotline assists callers who are handling their cases without a lawyer and assists in completing legal forms.

  • Phone: (1-800) 818-9888
  • Hours: Tuesday & Friday from 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM, Wednesday from 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM & 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM, and Thursday from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Family Law Forms Hotline: A free service to people that need assistance with completing or understanding family law forms. The hotline is staffed by attorneys experienced in family law and there is no fee for this service.

Family Law Self-Help Videos: Have a legal problem and don’t know where to begin? These videos may help. Each video includes transcripts in English and Spanish, a tip sheet, and links to resources, forms, and court services.

Mid-Shore Pro Bono: Provides legal assistance to individuals throughout the Eastern Shore on specific legal matters.

Settlement Conferences

Settlement conferences are required before any case can go to trial. Pro Se and parties with attorneys appear before the Court. Any parties or individuals who have the authority to potentially settle the matter are required to attend. If the case settles, attorneys and clients may enter the agreement “on the record” or submit a written agreement and/or order to the Court. A merits hearing is set for cases that do not settle.

Supervised Access/Monitored Exchange

The Court may order supervised access 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. The facilitator will have the discretion and authorization to terminate any scheduled access and/or contact law enforcement authorities. Payment for supervised access is one hundred dollars ($100) per hour and shall be made at least 48 hours prior to any scheduled access. Parties may file with the Clerk of Court a written request for waiver of supervised access payment.

Substance Use Assessments

The Court may order one or both parties to substance use assessments for in-depth substance use, hair follicle substance use and/or rapid substance use. All details are outlined in the Court order.

In-depth Substance Use: Court may refer parties to the Queen Anne's County Health Department, through its Drug and Alcohol Abuse Services Department at the Nielsen Center. The Nielsen Center provides substance use assessments, recommendations, referrals and urinalysis as needed. Written reports are submitted to the Court. Verbal testimony may also be required by the court. Parties are responsible for the cost of their own substance use assessment. The fees are on a sliding scale based on ability to pay, further questions should be directed to Health Department.

Hair Follicle Substance Use: Court may refer parties to the Health Enhancement Center. The Health Enhancement Center provides substance assessments and various other tests, as needed. Written reports are submitted to the court. Verbal testimony may also be required by the court. Parties are responsible for the cost of their own hair follicle substance use assessment. The fees for a hair follicle substance use assessment is $130.

Rapid Substance Use: Court may refer parties to White Glove Drug & Alcohol Testing, Inc. White Glove specializes in performing onsite and emergency collection services. Electronic and printed reports are submitted to the Court. Parties are responsible for the cost of their own rapid substance use screening. The fees for a rapid substance use screening is $50.

Violence Prevention Programs

The Court may order one or both parties, in a contested domestic case, to one of the following programs: Adult Anger Management or Abuser Intervention Program, facilitated through Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence. All parties are screened for appropriateness of placement.

Adult Anger Management: This program is meant to help those who have had negative outcomes related to anger or violence. It is an eight (8) week – open group, held in Centreville, Maryland that assists participants to make better decisions when under stress or experiencing negative emotions. Group days and times are provided to parties at the time of program intake. Parties are responsible for the cost of this program. The fees for the Adult Anger Management, is thirty dollars ($30) for the intake and thirty dollars ($30) per group, totaling two-hundred dollars ($270).

Abuser Intervention Program: This program is meant to provide increased family safety across the Mid-Shore Region. It is a twenty-six (26) week – open group, held in Easton, Maryland that provides participants to look at the costs that family violence creates on the victim, families, children, neighbors and society and consider the benefits of nonviolence. Group days and times are provided to parties after intake. Parties are responsible for the cost of this program. The fees for the Abuser Intervention Program, is thirty dollars ($30) for the intake and twenty-five dollars ($25) per group, totaling six-hundred eighty dollars ($680).

 

*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.