Family Services

Family Support Services
Kent County Circuit Court

Lori Jacobs
Family Law Coordinator
[email protected]

Maryland Court Help Centers
Free legal help with your civil
or family matter

Court Help Center

8:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday - Friday

The following Family Support Programs and Services are available to litigants of the Circuit Court for Kent County:

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Custody / Visitation Mediation

The Court may order parties with contested issues of custody or visitation to attend two sessions of two-hour mediation.  Attorneys and the parties are encouraged to agree on a mediator; if there is no agreement the Court selects a mediator from the Designated List of Child Access Mediators.  The Clerk of Court maintains a List of Qualified Mediators for Child Access and Marital Property disputes that is available for review, upon request.  Family Mediators may charge Two Hundred Dollars ($200) per hour and parties pay the mediator directly and in advance of each session.  Each party pays one-half of the fees in advance and directly to the mediator.

Family Mediation Program

Self-represented litigants and/or low income families are court-ordered to Community Mediation Upper Shore Inc. to help resolve custody and visitation issues through Parenting Plan mediation services. A co-mediator model is used which facilitates discussions between the parties.  As the parties reach an agreement, the mediator transcribes their points of agreement into a document called a "parenting plan".

Day-of-Court (DOC) Access Mediation Program

Trained mediators from Community Mediation Upper Shore are available in the courtroom on select Wednesdays so parties may begin mediation or at a minimum have their intake interview completed. Parties may elect to mediate and return to the courtroom before-the-end of the docket to report on the status of their progress. The Master may continue the Scheduling Conference for four weeks and allow the parties to continue with mediation. The parties appear before the Master for a second Scheduling Conference and submit their agreement “on the record” or resume with the second Scheduling Conference.

Marital Property Mediation

The Court may order parties to mediate marital property issues. The Clerk of Court maintains a List of Qualified Mediators for Marital Property disputes which is available for review upon request. Attorneys and the parties are encouraged to agree on a mediator; if there is no agreement the Court selects a mediator. Marital Property Mediators may charge Two Hundred Dollars ($200) per hour. Each party pays one-half of the fees in advance and directly to the mediator.

Settlement Conferences

Parties and their attorneys appear before a Retired Second Circuit Judge for a settlement conference on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at ten o’clock (10 am) at the Kent County Courthouse, first floor, located at 103 N. Cross Street, Chestertown, MD 21620. If the case settles, attorneys and clients may enter the agreement “on the record” or submit a written agreement and/or order to the court. A merits hearing is set for cases that do not settle.

Family Law Assistance Program (FLAP)

The Kent County Family Law Assistance Program (FLAP) is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 am to noon at the Kent County Courthouse, 2nd floor. FLAP operates on a first come, first served basis. Income eligibility guidelines are applied. There is no charge. Read the flyer.

A Family Law attorney is available to meet and consult with you on issues of divorce, custody, visitation, child support, modifications, or name change.  The attorney will assess the strength and weakness of your position and articulate your options.  Examples of legal assistance include providing appropriate forms; answering or clarifying questions about forms or procedure, making referrals to legal service providers and any other legal, agency, or community resources.

Information about other self-help legal resources is available.

Family Law Hotline
Family Law Forms
Family Law Hotline & Domestic Relation Forms
For Spanish Speakers
1-877-293-2507 or 443-519-4054
Mid-Shore Pro Bono
Civil Clinics
Debtor Clinics
Foreclosure Clinics
Peoples Law Library
(Legal Self-Help)
Non English Help

Parent Education Seminar

The Healing Hearts Program is a six-hour educational class conducted by Parent Education Program, P.O. Box 705, Centreville, Maryland 21617, which offers parents the opportunity to gain an understanding of the impact their separation and/or divorce has on their children.

The focus is on the importance of parents meeting the needs of their children emotionally and financially as well as to assist parties in developing their own parenting plan to promote the best interests of the minor child.  Parents will learn skills that can help their children adjust to the situation.

Litigants of Kent County are court-ordered to attend the Parent Education Program offered through the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County.  Sessions are held monthly at the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County, Master’s Hearing Room, 100 Courthouse Square, Centreville, MD 21617. Cost of the program is $40 per person and is due and payable by cash or money order only at the first session.

Attorney Appointments for Children

In actions with contested issues involving child custody, child access, or the amount of support of the minor child, one or both parties may file with the Court a motion to appoint child counsel. Child’s counsel may serve as a child advocate attorney, a best interest attorney and/or child’s privilege attorney. Parties deposit a fee retainer of Three Hundred Fifty Dollars ($350) in the attorney’s escrow account. The Court shall impose against either or both parents any outstanding counsel fees.

Supervised Visitation Program

For All Seasons, Inc. provides court ordered supervised visitation and monitored exchanges for families in Queen Anne’s and Kent Counties for minor children and their non-custodial parent. The Family Visitation Center is open once a week on alternating Wednesdays from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and two (2) slots and every other Sunday afternoon from 1 to 5 pm and four (4), two-hour slots are available for supervised visits. Intake interviews are scheduled and conducted during the hours of operation.

An intake interview for each party is required. To schedule an interview, contact the Program Director at 410-714-1411, and leave a message that includes your contact information and a few available Sunday dates that you are available.

The visiting parent's fee is twenty-five dollars ($25) for the intake interview. The visiting parent pays thirty dollars ($30) for each two-hour visit.

Monitored exchange is another visitation service available and is available during the same day and time the Center is open. Each parent pays Ten Dollars ($10) to exchange and return the child for a visit or five dollars ($5) per exchange or per return. Payment is due at the time of each exchange.

Home Study Investigations

By Court Order, the Kent County Department of Social Services (KCDSS) conducts home study investigations of one or both parties who live in Kent County, Maryland. The investigator prepares a written report of findings for filing with the Court. A fee of Two Hundred Dollars ($200) is charged and must be paid in advance and directly to KCDSS before the investigation will begin. KCDSS requires sixty days (60) to complete. When a criminal background check is required, KCDSS will coordinate that process and include it in its report to the court for an additional fee of eighty-five dollars ($85).

Substance Abuse Assessments

Court-ordered Substance Abuse Assessments are conducted by Kent County Behavioral Health (KCBH), Outpatient Addictions Services (formerly known as Publick House), located at A.F. Whittsett Center, 300 Scheeler Road, P.O. Box 229, Chestertown, MD. A substance abuse assessment may include but not limited to: random urinalysis, interviews, and other diagnostic tools, and where warranted a recommended treatment plan. You must allow two (2) hours to complete the assessment.

Walk-in appointments are available every day Monday through Thursday between 1:00 pm and 1:15 p.m. sharp! You may schedule an appointment by calling (410) 778-2616 ext. 3269.

Each party is responsible for the cost of their own substance abuse assessment. Many insurance plans are accepted. Your  financial arrangements must be made in one of these ways:

  1. Proof of income Bring documents such as a pay stub statement, W-2 form, tax return, disability, or unemployment statement; or if you are unemployed, then you must bring a letter from the person who supports you stating the amount and the duration of support;
  2. If you have health insurance or medical assistance, you must bring your medical card;
  3. If you are not working and do not have insurance, then you must apply for Primary Adult Care (PAC) insurance to be seen and this requires you to bring the following documents to complete the application:
    1. A Birth Certificate;
    2. Photo Identification; and,
    3. A letter from whoever is supporting you while you are at of work. Please bring Eight Dollars Fifty Cents ($8.50) for payment on your urinalysis.

Adult Anger Management

In contested domestic cases, the Court may order a party to Adult Anger Management when a litigant has demonstrated episodes of rage, poor decision-making behaviors, or other behaviors that have caused negative consequences on the family or litigant.  It is an eight (8) week open enrollment group counseling program that facilitates participants to learn effective decision-making skills and coping techniques to manage their anger.  Referrals are screened for appropriateness of placement. Every Wednesday evening the group meets from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Ross Medical Office Building, Washington Avenue, Chestertown, MD. You may register by telephone or e-mail: 443-362-0088 or  [email protected].

Mental Health Evaluation

Where a party’s mental health is at issue, the Court may order a mental health evaluation by a psychologist which may include but not limited to the following: psychological testing, interviews, other diagnostic tools, review of prior mental health treatment records, and other health-related records.  A final report is filed and sealed by the Court. The average cost for a mental health evaluation is Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000).

Family Counseling

The court may make referrals for family counseling to private and public mental health counselors.  Counseling services are available and include modalities such as individual, group, and family counseling.  These same providers accept a range of payment options: no fee, sliding fee scale or co-pay basis.

Family Support Service Referrals

Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence
Legal Advocacy
Abuser Intervention Program
Family Support Services and Counseling
1-(800) 927-4673 Espaňol
Bureau of Child Support Enforcement
Genetic Testing
Child Support
(410) 810-7755  
Victim Witness Services Kent County Sheriff’s Office (410) 778-2979  
Department of Social Services Kent County, MD
Employment Services Program
(410) 810-7600 Espaňol
Shared Opportunity Service
Family Support Services
(410) 778-7911 Espaňol