St. Mary’s County Circuit Courthouse
P.O. Box 859
Leonardtown, Maryland 20650
Linda J. Grove
Family Support Services Coordinator
Phone: (301) 475-7844, extension *4110
What is the Family Services Program?
In 1998, the Maryland Judiciary was given the responsibility of overseeing the creation of the Family Divisions/Family Services Program with an initiative by the State Legislature. Comprehensive programs were developed by Maryland Circuit Courts to help benefit families accessing the court system to help resolve custody and access issues. These services provide efficient case management of family law cases for families and children who are entering the judicial system. The overall mission is “to improve the experiences and outcomes for the children and families who interact with Maryland’s Court System”. St. Mary’s County Circuit Court encourages and believes parents should be the primary decision makers. Fostering parents as the primary decision makers is the basis for the creation of the services provided through the court process.
What are the Programs offered through the Family Services Office?
- Child Custody and Child Access Mediation
- 6 hour Co-Parenting Education Program
- 6 week Intensive Co-Parenting Education Program
- Co-Parenting Conflict Resolution Counseling Program (CCRC)
- Supervised Visitation Programs
- Family Law Self Help Legal Clinic at the St. Mary’s County Courthouse
- Family Law Self Help Legal Clinic at the Lexington Park Library
- Family Recovery Court (FRC) Program
- Other Family Services Referrals
The St. Mary’s County Circuit Court will order parties in contested child access/child custody cases to resolve their disputes through mediation when a case is appropriate for mediation. Pursuant to Maryland Rule 17-201(c) mediation is the process in which parties appear before an impartial mediator and assists the parties in reaching their own voluntary agreement to resolve all or part of their contested issues. The mediator may help the parties develop a parenting plan that is in the best interests of their child (ren). The St. Mary’s County Circuit Court utilizes the mediators with Community Mediation of St. Mary’s.
Court approved mediators through Community Mediation of St. Mary’s uses a co-mediation approach. This program is paid by a grant through the Family Services Jurisdictional Grant Program. Community Mediation of St. Mary’s does not charge a fee
Community Mediation of St. Mary’s is located at 41620 Courthouse Drive, Leonardtown, Maryland 20650, (301) 475-9118, Susan Rork, Executive Director.
Pursuant to Maryland Rule 9-204(b) when there are contested issues of custody and/or visitation, the Court will order parties to a 6 hour educational seminar designed to minimize disruptive effects of separation and divorce on the lives of children. The purpose of the co-parenting seminars is to give parents skills to lessen the effects of the divorce and/or separation on their children. Parties participate in the program by referral or court order. The seminar provides the parents tools to be able co-parent effectively as well as makes decisions on behalf of their children The St. Mary’s County Circuit Court refers parties to the following provider:
Promise Resource Center is located at 29958 Killpeck Creek Court, Charlotte Hall, Maryland 20622. Contact person is Kelly Hutter, Executive Director at (301) 290-0400. Cost is $120.00 per person and parties have to pre-register and pre-pay at least 48 hours prior to the next class. Payment is not accepted on the day of the class. The 6 hour seminar is offered the third (3rd) Saturday of every month from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Lunch is provided.
6 Hour Online Co-Parenting Program/Divorce Class
Another resource to complete the required 6 hour Educational Seminar is through Online Parenting Programs:
Programs are available in English and Spanish. Low income discounts are available.
Contact by phone at (866)504-2883 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or go on the website www.stmarys.onlineparentingprograms.com
This Program is designed to help reduce court time and litigation expenses for families who have not been able to overcome conflict with other interventions. The goal of this program is that each participant has successfully addressed areas of conflict, develops a plan to utilize in future conflicts, has an understanding of the negative impact of parental conflict on children and is confident in utilizing the skills they have gained in future scenarios. The class is structured with six 2-hour sessions and approximately 8 to 14 participants are in a group. Class utilizes role-playing, skills training, peer coaching, mentoring and supervised practice. Fees are paid through Family Services Jurisdictional Grant Program. Parties are ordered to the program. Parties participate in the program by court order.
Co-Parenting Conflict Resolution Counseling Program (CCRC)
The Co-Parenting Conflict Resolution Counseling Program (CCRC) is an informal meeting between both parents and the provider gives parents the opportunity to discuss any issues that brought them before the court, and other concerns or topics areas of their choice that relates to co-parenting. Preparation for the meeting only requires that you arrive on time and have an open mind to the process. Parties will be asked to sign consent to participate on the day of their scheduled meeting and both parents are required to be present. The provider is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW-C) with extensive experience working with families and children.
The program is available on Thursdays only and scheduled appointments are at 9:15 am, 10:30 am, 12 noon and at 1:00 pm. The program is held at the Circuit Court for St. Mary’s County. Parties participate either by referral or court order. Contact Linda J. Grove, Family Support Services Coordinator at (301) 475-7844, extension * 4110 to schedule sessions. Free
The Court will order parties to supervised visitation when there are safety concerns of the non-custodial parent.
The following three (3) agencies provide supervise visitation for the St. Mary’s County Circuit Court:
Chiron Wellness Services, LLC
Kai Zwierstra, LMSW
41660 Courthouse Drive, Suite 200
Post Office Box 139
Leonardtown, Maryland 20650
Fees: Court Ordered and/or Agency Referral: $100.00 supervised visitation and $125.00 for therapeutic supervised visitation.
Fees: Family or Individual Referral: $60.00 Administrative Intake Fee and $55.00 for one child/one adult; $65.00 for two children/one adult; $75.00 for three or more children and one adult.
Center for Children
- Leonardtown Office (301) 475-8860
- La Plata Office (301) 609-9887
- Prince Frederick Office (410) 535-3047
Intake fee is $50.00 per party and cost of each visitation session is $50.00 for up to two (2) children per visit per hour. Visitation occurs at one of their office locations in the Tri-County Area.
Promise Resource Center
The Promise Resource Center is located at 29958 Killpeck Creek Court, Charlotte Hall, Maryland 20622. Contact person is Kelly Hutter, Executive Director and she can be reached at (301) 290-0400.
Promise Resource Center will have to conduct an intake of both parties and the cost is $57.50 per hour. Visitation can occur in the office, community, i.e. park, restaurant, shopping, etc.
The St. Mary’s County Circuit Court offers two free Family Law Self Help Legal Clinics to provide legal help and legal assistance with your family law matter such as custody, visitation, divorce, child support, name change, guardianship and domestic violence.
There are two legal clinics;
St. Mary’s County Circuit Court
41605 Courthouse Drive, Leonardtown, Maryland 20650
Clinic is held in the conference room on the 1st floor next to courtroom III. Security at the front door will provide directions to the conference room. Sign-up sheet is posted at 9:30 am and the attorney starts seeing people at 10:00 am.
The Clinic at the St. Mary’s County Circuit Courthouse is held every Wednesday and on the last Friday of every month at 10:00 am - 12;00pm.
Lexington Park Library.
21677 FDR Boulevard, Lexington Park, Maryland 20650 The schedule at the Lexington Park Library varies month to month but is typically two Wednesdays of every month from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm. Contact Clair Langeluttig for the monthly schedule.
At either clinic, the lawyer is not going to be your lawyer but will answer your questions about any family law matter. It is a free service and the appointment is one on one with you and the lawyer and you can attend the clinic as many times as you need to. Contact person is Claire Langeluttig, Sr. Legal Assistant at (301) 475-7844, extension *4121 and/or Linda J. Grove, Family Support Services Coordinator at (301) 475-7844, extension *4110.
The St. Mary’s County Family Recovery Court (FRC) program began operation in January 2016. The Family Recovery Court program is an alternative for parents with substance abuse and or mental health problems that inhibit their ability to provide safe and appropriate care for their children. The majority of these families are under the jurisdiction of the court through a Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) court proceeding. However, there are also parents who are losing custody and visitation rights in family law litigation who are eligible to participate. The Family Recovery Court is dependent upon the creation of a non-adversarial courtroom atmosphere where a single judicial officer and a dedicated team of court officers and staff work together toward the common goal of breaking the cycle of dysfunction and disintegrating families.
The St. Mary’s County Family Recovery Court builds strong and healthy families by offering timely, intensive treatment and support for parents with substance abuse problems that prevent them from providing safe and appropriate care for their children. The Family Recovery Court uses a holistic approach to support parents and families, with consistent monitoring, intensive treatment, ancillary services, and collaborative efforts.
Parents must meet one of the following criteria to be eligible for the FRC:
- Have an active CINA proceeding, with a permanency plan that includes reunification.
- Have a child under an Order of Protective Supervision by DSS.
- Have a custody or visitation case.
Contact Person is Debbie Waxman, Family Recovery Court Case Manager/Coordinator. (240) 925-3696.
Parties could be ordered to family therapy and/or co-parenting therapy. In addition, parties could be ordered to submit to a psychological evaluation, and/or a substance abuse evaluation and follow all recommendations.
Legal and Community Resources
Legal Aid Bureau, Maryland Legal Aid – private, non-profit law firm providing free legal services to low income people statewide. 15364 Prince Frederick Road, Hughesville, Maryland, 20637 (301) 932-6661. https://www.mdlab.org
Southern Maryland Center for Family Advocacy – is a private, non-profit agency whose function is to provide advocacy, legal assistance and information/referral to victims of domestic violence in the Southern Maryland region at 23918 Mervell Dean Road, Hollywood, Maryland 20636 and work number is (301) 373-4141. http://smcfa.net
The People’s Law Library of Maryland (PPL) is legal information and self-help website maintained by the Maryland State Law Library, a court related agency of the Maryland Judiciary. The purpose of the PPL is to provide self -help litigant’s information about the law including summaries of the law, links to legal resources and referrals for legal services. https://www.peoples-law.org
Maryland Volunteers Lawyers Services (MVLS)
Maryland Courts Self Help Center CHAT with a Lawyer about your civil case Free Legal Help with your Civil Matter
(410) 260-1392 Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 8:00 pm
Civil Justice’s Limited Scope Representation Project
Contact Civil Justice at (410) 706-0174
Or you can fill out an online intake form at http://www.civiljusticenetwork.org/ForConsumers/Intakeform.aspx.
Intake Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Walden Sierra Crisis Hotline (301) 863-6661 – 24 hours/7 days a week
Department of Social Services (St. Mary’s County)
Child Support Customer Service (St. Mary’s County)
Clerk of the Court (St. Mary’s County)
(301) 475-7844 (select option for Clerks Office)