The Family Division aims to provide the following:
- An opportunity for you to resolve your dispute as early as possible
- An environment that will make it easier for you to come to a resolution of your dispute without the need of a trial
- The ability to work out a long-term solution
If parties are unable to achieve a mutual agreement on their own, they can be certain that their case will be decided in a fair and efficient manner and, furthermore, that when decisions are made by the judges and masters in the Family Division, the utmost consideration will be given to the interests of all family members.
About Settlement or Scheduling Conferences
The first scheduled event in most Family Division cases will be a Settlement or Scheduling Conference, which will be held in room 515 of the County Courts Building and which will aim to:
- Encourage early settlement, if appropriate
- Schedule cases for future hearing dates, if a case does not settle
- Arrange for services that encourage positive discussions that will help parties resolve their disputes in a mutually satisfactory manner
It is important to note that this Conference is not a hearing. The Family Magistrate conducting the Conference will make no rulings. For more information, call 410-887-2509 or read more about the process below.
Parties will be required to complete the Family Law Questionnaire, which 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 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
- Health insurance
- Who is to live in the family home
- Who can use the family personal property
If an agreement is not reached, then Court staff will schedule future hearings and provide all parties and counsel with a Scheduling Order that contains all future hearing dates and scheduling deadlines.
The Consent Order will be prepared, signed and filed with the Court.
Learn more about what division to contact regarding the following services offered by the Family Division.
Family Support Services
The following services can be provided based upon an agreement of the parties or may be ordered by a judge after a careful review of the facts in a Family Law case.
Contact: Shawnna Johnson
|Protection Order Advocacy and Representation Project (POARP)|
Free assistance with the following:
You must submit a Domestic Settlement Conference Statement form to the Settlement Office two weeks prior to the date of the initial Settlement Conference. The form will only be used to assist the Settlement Judge and for scheduling purposes. The form will not be given to the opposing side or placed in the Court file.
Family Employment and Support Program (FESP)
The FESP is a court-supervised program that assists non-custodial parents who are behind in their child support payments obtain full-time employment. Participants are required to submit employment applications and meet with court coordinators weekly for job referrals. Learn more below by calling 410-887-0152.
Participants are typically young men between ages 25 and 40 years who are noncustodial parents seeking to be responsible in every aspect of their lives. The program only accepts those parents who are highly motivated to support their families, committed to learning new jobs skills and becoming productive citizens of their communities.
FESP has developed a process for referring entry-level employees to companies in the Greater Baltimore area. We have benchmarked our program on the most successful workforce development efforts in the Mid-Atlantic region, and have consulted with business owners to learn about their needs and concerns. We structure our services to produce employees who are ready to exceed your expectations. Employers are under no obligation to hire FESP clients. Other benefits of hiring an FESP client include:
- Free-of-Charge Outsourced Staffing—By hiring a FESP client, you will have effectively outsourced some of your human resource functions, saving company dollars and staff time. This leaves you better able to concentrate on what you do best - growing your business.
- Fully screened, ready-to-work, qualified job applicants—Our clients meet weekly with an employment coordinator to develop a job search strategy. This process allows the coordinator to evaluate the client’s personal presentation, reliability, punctuality, motivation, attitude and ability to take suggestions and follow directions.
- Assessments Performed on Applicants Prior to Referrals—These include drug screenings, criminal background/reference checks, basic education tests (verbal and math)
- Retention and Follow-Up—We stay in touch with newly hired clients on a weekly basis for a minimum of one year to help employers reduce turnover by helping clients keep their jobs.
- Tax Incentives—We can assist employers in obtaining incentives for hiring clients that qualify. Tax breaks can help offset the cost of training a new employee.
- Consultations—Our coordinators are eager to hear how we can enhance employers' companies. Let us know how we can assist your business in minimizing risks and optimizing returns.
- No Cost EAP Provider—FESP serves employers by assisting our clients with familial, elder care, child care, stress, financial, substance abuse, legal and work adjustment issues—at no cost to the employer or employee. Our coordinators and associates in partner agencies help clients with these issues in order to keep their minds on the job while at work.
Family Recovery Court Treatment Program
The FRC Program aims to treat chemical dependency, preserve families and protect children via:
- Access and engagement in an intensive, structured treatment program
- Provide a support network of holistic, strength-based services
- Frequent monitoring, evaluations and Court reviews
Learn more below or by calling 410-887-6159.
To be eligible for the FRC program, a parent must:
- Be a Baltimore County resident
- Be a party in a CINA case
- Have a substance abuse problem that affects their ability to parent
A parent is disqualified from participating in the FRC program if they have been:
- Convicted of a violent crime or criminal child abuse
- Diagnosed with severe mental illness, mental retardation or any other cognitive impairment that would inhibit their ability to understand or complete the program
Parent Education Classes
The Circuit Court for Baltimore County provides two separate parent education classes for those parties with child access issues. Both are held in the Jury Assembly area in the County Courts Building. Children are not to be present for either program and there are no facilities for childcare available in the Courthouse. For more information, contact the Office of Family Mediation.
The Co-Parenting Education Program is designed to provide information regarding the impact of separation and divorce on children. Any interested person may attend. Trained professionals will describe better ways for parents to understand relationships with their children and how they may be able to improve their problem solving techniques through more effective communication.
The Special Challenges Parenting Workshop is designed to educate parents about ways to eliminate conflict in the lives of their children when the parents do not live together, but have specific safety issues that need to be addressed. Issues addressed in this workshop include:
- Substance abuse
- Domestic violence
- Mental health problems
- Alienation of a parent
- Allegations of unfitness to parent
- Other reasons parents cannot seem to break their cycle of conflict
The program addresses each of these situations and explains how parenting may have to be done differently in order to keep children safe and protect them from the unhealthy consequences of ongoing conflict between their parents. The workshop is held the third Tuesday of every month. Parents, grandparents, stepparents and all other significant adults in the lives of children experiencing separation or divorce are welcome.
Learn more about available family law resources and documentation below.
|Office of Child Support|
|The Collaborative Roundtable at Baltimore|
Contact: Ali Dansker Doyle, Esquire
Family Law Center
|Baltimore County Bar Association|
Legal Aid Bureau
Monthly Pro Se divorce classes for those who have:
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
Pro bono or no-cost attorney referrals for low and moderate income individuals
|Reduced Fee Program|
Obtain general information and forms on Maryland Family Law by visiting: