Settlement or Scheduling Conferences
Settlement or Scheduling Conferences are held in Room 515 on the fifth floor of the County Courts Building, 401 Bosley Avenue in Towson. Any questions regarding these Conferences may be directed to the DCM Office; phone: 410-887-2509
The first scheduled event in most Family Division cases will be a Settlement or Scheduling Conference. The function of the Conference is threefold:
(1) To encourage early settlement, if appropriate;
(2) To schedule cases for future hearing dates, if a case does not settle;
(3) To arrange for services that encourage positive discussions that will help parties resolve their disputes in a mutually satisfactory manner.
At the Conference, the parties will initially be required to complete the Family Law Questionnaire. The Questionnaire will be used by a Family Magistrate to determine how the case is processed and to determine if any services are necessary. If the answers on the Questionnaire indicate that the case may be a high-conflict case, a Family Services Screener will interview the parties and, in conjunction with the Family Magistrate, make a determination whether the case should be processed as a high-conflict case and, if so, make a service plan recommendation for the case.
The Family Magistrate will also help parties identify the issues that are being contested. Parties and their counsel should be prepared to discuss all issues with the Family Magistrate, including: custody of and visitation with children, child support payments, alimony, health insurance, who is to live in the family home and who can use the family personal property.
It is important to note that this Conference is not a hearing. The Family Magistrate conducting the Conference will make no rulings. If the parties do reach a mutual agreement at the Conference, a Consent Order may be prepared, signed and filed with the Court. If an agreement is not reached, then Court staff will schedule a future hearing(s) and provide all parties and counsel with a Scheduling Order that contains all future hearing dates and scheduling deadlines.
It is our hope that this early Conference will encourage the parties and their counsel to focus on the major issues in dispute and to provide a forum for more open discussions on how those issues can be resolved. Family Courts throughout the Country have recognized that if communication is improved, then more often a Family Law case can be resolved in a way that is better for everyone involved in the case.
Revised March 11, 2015