Family Services Coordinator
The Following Services and Programs Are Available to the Circuit Court for Washington County
- Family Law Self-Help Clinic and Courthouse Help Center
- Co-Parenting Education Seminars
- Attorneys for Minor Children
- Mental Health/Custody Evaluations
- Parent Coordination
- Mediation Services
- Supervised Visitation
- Substance Abuse Evaluation
- Domestic Violence Assistance
- Legal Resources
The Family Law Self-Help Clinic is funded through a grant from the Administrative Office of the Courts. The attorney provides legal assistance, through a free and limited consultation on how to represent yourself. The attorney will aid in obtaining and completing forms related to matters of divorce, custody/visitation, child support, and name change. The consultation may also include answering or clarifying questions about court procedures and making referrals to legal service providers and community resources.
If the family law matter is too complex, or otherwise inappropriate for the clinic, the attorney will attempt to refer individuals to an appropriate resource. If you have a complex case, you should retain an attorney.
- DO NOT represent individuals.
- DO NOT file paperwork for individuals.
- DO NOT go to court with you or help try cases.
- DO NOT call, write letters, or otherwise communicate with opposing parties, attorneys, or Judges.
- DO NOT help individuals who already have an attorney.
- DO NOT assist with discovery.
- DO NOT draft or review separation agreements.
The Family Law Self-Help Clinic operates during the week, on a first-come, first-served basis, at the Circuit Court for Washington County. The hours of operation are as follows:
Tuesday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday: 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Please click the following link for additional details.
The purpose of the co-parenting seminars is to give parents skills to mitigate the effects of the family dissolution on their children, and provide strategies to communicate and make decisions together on behalf of the children. The seminar is ordered by the Court in contested custody and access cases, and requires the parties to contact directly, one of the available providers.
Select one of the following providers:
- 6-hour Online Parenting Program -- The cost of the online service is $75. Register online and pay using PayPal or a major credit card. Discounted programs are available to income eligible parents. Please contact http://washingtonmd.onlineparentingprograms.com directly for a discount code. Classes also offered in Spanish. A certificate is issued to the participants that complete the course. Classes also offered in Spanish. A certificate is issued to the participants that complete the course.
- National Family Resiliency Center’s Co-Parent and Parents Forever Online Program (NFRC) -- To register and pay ($70 program fee), please visit http://www.NFRCparentseminars.org or call (410)-740-9553. At the center of the page, immediately below the conventional login prompts, click on the link, “New Registrants Only.” Select “Washington County” as your course. The auto-registration will direct you from that point onwards. Please note that all credit cards are accepted. PayPal is also an option for payment. Class also offered in Spanish. Complies with MD Rule 9-204’s 6-hour parent education requirement. “Fee waivers” available upon application with NFRC for low-income parents. Call NFRC directly at (410)-740-9553 to request a fee waiver. A certificate is issued to participants that complete the course.
In contested matters, by way of a motion filed by one or both parties, the Court may appoint counsel to represent a minor. Such an appointment may occur if the parties are unable to reach an agreement AND there is a compelling reason why a child needs separate representation. Attorneys appointed may serve 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’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.
Parties are responsible for payment of the attorney as outlined in the Court Order. However, if a party’s income is sufficiently low, limited grant funds through Family Services may be available. A completed Motion for Waiver of Family Services Fees + Supporting Affidavit is required and must be submitted to the Family Services Coordinator for consideration. A roster of court-approved attorneys who may represent children is available upon request by contacting the Family Services Coordinator at 240-313-2580.
Mental health and custody evaluations are conducted by licensed professionals to provide evidence to the Court and to offer parenting plan recommendations to the parents and the Judge. The health professional meets with each parent and child(ren) individually and jointly, and, following professional guidelines, timely submits a report to the Court. The parties are responsible for payment of all fees associated with such assessment, as ordered by the Court. If parties are income eligible, grant funds may be available to assist depending upon availability. A completed Motion for Waiver of Family Services Fees + Supporting Affidavit is required and must be submitted to the Family Services Coordinator for consideration.
Parent coordinators are experienced, licensed mental health professionals trained to work with high conflict divorcing/estranged parents as a neutral third party. The purpose of parent coordination is to minimize children's exposure to parents' conflict by assisting parents in developing and implementing agreements that meet the children’s' needs for health development and reasonable access to each parent. The Court orders parent coordination in high conflict divorce/custody cases, and the parties are responsible for payment of the fees of parent coordinators as outlined in the Court Order.
When appropriate, the Court will order parties in contested child access/child support, marital property, and/or alimony cases to resolve their disputes through mediation. "Mediation" as defined in Maryland Rule 17-102(d), is the process in which the parties appear before an impartial mediator, who through the application of standard mediation techniques generally accepted within the professional community and without providing legal advice, assists the parties in reaching their own voluntary agreement for the resolution of all or part of their dispute. The mediator helps parents develop a parenting plan, make important decisions, and reach agreements that are in the best interest of their child(ren).
Washington County has a list of mediators approved to conduct mediation involving child access disputes. Mediators will conduct up to two 2-hour Court-ordered sessions. The cost is $200 per hour, to be paid in equal shares by the parties. The cost may be off-set through the Family Law Fund for income eligible parties depending upon grant funding availability. A completed Motion for Waiver of Family Services Fees + Supporting Affidavit is required and must be submitted to the Family Services Coordinator for consideration.
A roster of court-approved mediators is available upon request by contacting the Family Services Coordinator at 240-313-2580.
The Court may order supervised access when the Court determines a need for guided contact with one or both parents, or it is necessary to establish or reestablish a parent/child relationship. A neutral third person is responsible for observing and seeking to ensure the safety of those involved. Parties are responsible for the cost of supervised access, as instructed in the court order.
The Circuit Court for Washington County has a state-approved provider that conducts substance abuse evaluations and submits reports to the Court. The Court may order parties to obtain drug and/or alcohol assessments and allocate the costs for the assessment to the parties.
Contact the District Court at 240-420-4600 between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If the court is closed, contact the Commissioner’s Office of the District Court at 240-420-4650 or 240-313-2840.
Family Law Hotline (provides limited legal service): 1-800-845-8550
Find a Lawyer: Search by Practice Type: Family Law
Lawyer Referral: 1-800-649-1090
Legal Aid Bureau: 1-800-999-8904 or 301-694-7414
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Services (MVLS) : 1-800-510-0050
MD Court Help Center: 410-260-1392
Peoples’ Law Library of Maryland
Washington County Bar Association
Washington County Child Protection Services (DSS): 240-420-2222
Washington County Adult Protective Services (DSS): 240-420-2155
Washington County Register of Wills: 301-739-3612
Family Law Forms and Instructions
Find Forms using "Maryland Courts forms finder"