Dorchester County Circuit Court
Family support Services
206 High Street, Room 203A
Cambridge, MD 21613
- Telephone: (410) 228-1395
- Fax: (410) 228-3775
Domestic Relations and Juvenile Magistrate: Karen R. Ketterman
Family Support Services Coordinator: Jessica Milligan
Family Services brochure (pdf)
Family Support Services Provided Through the Court
Counsel for Minor Children
An attorney can be appointed by the Standing Magistrate and Judge to represent a minor child. The fee for attorney representation is $100.00 an hour, for up to 10 hours, plus reasonable expenses.
An attorney can represent minor children 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.
The Court can order parties to attend individual or family counseling in contested or high conflict cases. Fees are as set by the Court and the individual counseling agencies.
Drug & Alcohol Testing
The Courts can order a substance abuse evaluation, immediate urinalysis testing and/or random urinalysis testing through the Dorchester County Health Department - Addictions Program. Random and immediate testing can also be ordered through Shoreworks. The fee for substance abuse evaluations is $95.00 and testing is $60.00 per person.
Drug & Alcohol Addictions Treatment
If an evaluation by the Dorchester County Health Department - Addictions Program indicates that treatment is needed, the Health Department provides a full range of outpatient addiction treatment, including traditional and intensive outpatient services. Treatment is group oriented with the focus that addiction is a chronic, treatable disease. The cost of such treatment can be on a sliding scale fee as determined by the Health Department.
Home studies are conducted as ordered through an appropriate agency, you may contact family services for further information at 410-228-1395. The fee for a home study is approximately $250.00 per household, but can vary with each agency. A home study is usually completed within 60 days of the Court's order.
The Court has an approved list of certified mediators. The Court can order two types of mediation: financial/property mediation and custody/visitation/child support mediation. The fee for mediation is $130.00 per hour which is divided equally among the parties. The Court can also order custody/visitation/child support mediation through the Mid Shore Community Mediation Center, whose mediators must also be certified by the Court. There is no fee for mediation through Mid Shore Community Mediation. The list of certified mediators is located in the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Dorchester County.
The Court oversees the Co-Parenting Education Seminar “Healing Hearts” which introduces effective parenting strategies for parents who live separately or are divorced. The seminar consists of two sessions, each of which will last approximately three hours. In the seminar, parents learn to deal with the emotional, social, financial and educational impact of separation and divorce on their child. Parents become better prepared to explain divorce to their child and learn how they can help them through each developmental stage. The Seminar focuses on helping parents build a constructive co-parenting relationship and how to make healthy decisions for their child. The seminar is held at the Chesapeake College, Cambridge Campus located at 416-418 Race Street, Cambridge, MD. The fee for the parenting seminar is $40.00. Attendees must register in advance by calling (410) 228-1395.
Self Help Clinic/Family Law Assistance
The Court offers a Family Law Assistance Clinic at the Courthouse in Room 204 three Mondays per month between the hours of 12:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. A family law attorney is available for a free consultation to complete the domestic relations forms provided by the State of Maryland and provide information about how litigants can represent themselves in custody, divorce, child support, name change and visitation matters. The attorney does not represent you in court. Appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call Jessica Milligan at (410) 228-1395.
Supervised Visitation/Monitored Exchange
The Court oversees the operation of a supervised visitation center. The Dorchester County Family Access Center is located at 503 Roslyn Avenue, Cambridge. An administrative assistant, police officer and social worker assist families to effectuate a safe visit or monitored exchange of their children. The fee for supervised visitation is $20.00 per visit. The fee for monitored exchange is $5.00 per exchange. All fees are paid by the non-custodial parent or referring agency. The Access Center telephone number is (410) 228-5699. However, Center staff are only at the Center during hours of operation. The Center is open every other weekend (Friday evening and Sunday afternoon), and the first and third Wednesday evenings of each month. Please contact Jessica Milligan, Family Support Services Coordinator @ (410) 228-1395 for additional information.
Uptoparents.org or Proudtoparent.org
The parties may be ordered to complete an online program regarding their children and parental conflict. There is no charge for these programs and each party must print a certificate once the website work is completed.
Other Possible Court Ordered Services
Psychological evaluations, high conflict parenting seminar, parenting coordination, and Children in the Middle. For more information, please contact Jessica Milligan at (410) 228-1395.
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. For more information please contact Jessica Milligan @ (410) 228-1395.