Circuit Court for Howard County
Family Law Coordinator
The Family Law staff reviews domestic cases in order to determine scheduling and service referrals. The office is not permitted to offer legal advice; however, we can answer any procedural or general questions regarding family law case procedure. Our primary goals are to ensure that cases are processed timely, efficiently and to order appropriate alternate dispute resolution services.
The Court is also committed to increasing and updating family services. Described below are our family services and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) programs. For more information about the Family Law Office, please call the Family Law Coordinator, at 410-313-2225.
Family Law Programs and Services
Most contested domestic cases are scheduled for a scheduling conference. The conferences are scheduled by the Family Law Office. All postponements or requests for remote scheduling conferences can be emailed to the Family Law Office at HCFamilylawoffice@mdcourts.gov and re-set accordingly.
Magistrate Conference Calls
If a case has been properly served, and there has been limited access, inadequate support, violation of an existing order or other urgent issue, a Magistrate conference call may be requested. The request form must be completed and filed with the Clerk’s Office. If the Request is granted, instructions regarding the call will be emailed to counsel/parties.
Family Law Assistance Program
See the Family Law Assistance Program which provides free legal consultation on how to represent oneself and complete forms for family law matters.
- Mediation in Child Custody Cases: Mediation is often ordered in contested custody and visitation cases, unless there have been allegations of domestic violence. Parents will be ordered to attend two, two-hour mediation sessions with a court approved and qualified mediator. The Family Law Office generates the order for mediation after the scheduling conference. Counsel does not have to attend custody/visitation mediation. Parties are responsible for the fee.
- Property Mediation: Property mediation may also be ordered at the time of the scheduling conference. Parties must agree to participate in this type of mediation. Counsel does not have to attend mediation, although the mediator may request that they do so. Parties will be ordered to attend two, two-hour sessions with a court approved and qualified mediator. Parties are responsible for the fee.
- Mediation payments: The Court has a small fund for low-income litigants to assist with the fees of court ordered mediation. Additionally, some of our mediators will either offer their service at no cost to eligible litigants or will offer a sliding scale payment plan. Litigants are required to submit a fee waiver form to the Family Law Office. The request will be approved or denied using income-based eligibility guidelines. Upon approval, the court will pay the entire cost of mediation OR refer the case and ask the provider to perform the service at a reduced rate or pro bono.
Child Abuse and Neglect/Termination of Parental Rights Mediation
- Mediation may be ordered or referred in any Child Abuse and Neglect case. Mediation is required in all Termination of Parental Rights cases. For more information regarding this program please see the policies and procedures and brochure below:
- The court may order parties to attend an educational seminar on parenting in compliance with the Maryland Rules. The court offers two providers for parenting programs:
- Parties are responsible for the fees associated with the programs. Once parties have been ordered to attend the program, they are to contact the provider to register. Any questions regarding payment options should be directed to the provider.
Assessments and Custody Evaluations
When parents are not able to agree upon a parenting plan for their child(ren), the court may order an assessment or evaluation. This may include a custody evaluation, home study, a mental health evaluation, or a specific issue evaluation. The court social worker may conduct an assessment or a custody evaluation. The Court determines, and orders, the assessment or evaluation. Parties may make a verbal request, by agreement, at the scheduling conference or the Court may order the assessment or evaluation.
The Court may appoint a child counsel in contested domestic cases. See the Maryland Rules for a thorough description of all factors associated with the appointment of a child’s attorney. Parties are responsible for the fees.
- List of court-approved child's counsel
Beginning in June 2007, the court has maintained a list of approved Parenting Coordinators. Parenting Coordinators for The Circuit Court for Howard County are mental health practitioners or attorneys with education, training, and experience in working with families of separation and divorce. Parent Coordination is a service designed to assist parents with child rearing and following the court order for custody and access. Parenting Coordination requires the consent of both parents before the Court will order participation. Parenting Coordination helps children by assisting parents resolve issues, communicate, and co-parent. Parties are responsible for fees. For more information about parenting coordination, and for a list of current providers, please call the Family Law Office at 410-313-2225.
The Circuit Court for Howard County has established the following instructions for the processing of Guardianship cases. If you have questions regarding the instructions please contact the Family Law Office.
- Instructions for Guardians Completing the Annual Accounting for Guardian of the Property
- Instructions for Guardian Completing the Inventory for Guardianship of the Property
- Annual Fiduciary Report
- Inventory Information Report
For more general information regarding family law or to access any family law forms, please visit:
- Maryland Judiciary (www.mdcourts.gov)
- Peoples Law Library (https://www.peoples-law.org/)
- Howard County Department of Social Services (https://dhs.maryland.gov/local-offices/howard-county/)