Alternative Dispute Resolution/Mediation | Harford County Circuit Court

Alternative Dispute Resolution/Mediation

Circuit Court ADR Program
20 West Courtland Street, Room 2-10
Bel Air, MD 21014
Telephone: 410-638-3054
Fax: 410-638-9589
E-mail: [email protected]
ADR Program Manager: Heather L. Akehurst-Krause, Esq.
ADR Coordinator: Ann B. Cogan, Esq.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), is a process during which parties in a pending court case seek resolution of their disputes prior to litigating them at trial. There are several forms of ADR, including mediation, neutral case evaluation, neutral fact-finding, settlement conference, or a combination of any of these.

Mediation, one form of ADR, is a process in which parties work with one or more trained mediators. The mediators are impartial, and without providing legal advice, assist the parties in reaching their own voluntary resolution to all or some of the issues in dispute. This process allows parties to be self-determinative in the resolution of issues, before a judge or magistrate is required to decide.

Family Law Mediation Program - The Circuit Court for Harford County offers coordination of mediation services by court order, usually after parties have attended a scheduling conference. Many family law cases are referred to the ADR Program office for mediation coordination of child custody/access and/or marital property/financial disputes. If parties are able to reach resolution of some or all of their disputed issues they may limit trial time, or avoid it altogether. There are other services that may be ordered at the same time that mediation is referred; these services are coordinated by the Family Law Case Coordinator’s office.

All family law cases are screened prior to an Order for Mediation to assess for safety and appropriateness for mediation. An ADR coordinator will review each case, often speaking with each party confidentially.

Upon referral to mediation for child custody/access, the parties will receive information on the Maryland Parenting Plan. Below are links to the Parenting Plan Instructions and fillable Tool. It is useful for each party to complete the Parenting Plan tool prior to attending the mediation sessions, and to use as talking points during discussions. If parties reach agreement they may complete and sign one Parenting Plan tool to submit as their parenting agreement. If agreement is not reached in full, the parties are required to complete a joint statement listing the unresolved issues, and to file it with the court prior to a trial date.

Court Approved Mediator Roster – the ADR Program coordinates all mediation referrals made by a judge or magistrate using a roster of court-approved mediators. These mediators have met the Judiciary’s requirements for training and experience in the various aspects of family law. In addition to the mediator roster, the ADR Program coordinators can refer child access cases to the Office of Family Court Services; referrals to this office are based on income eligibility. Harford County Community Mediation is another source for court- referred child access and some property issue mediation. Below please find the following links:

The following links can be used to learn more about mediation and the family law mediation process:

  • The Peoples Law Library – a public online library of the Maryland Judiciary, this link will take you to information and resources within the library.
  • Mediation: a Four Part Video Series - This four-part video series gives an overview of how mediation may help you resolve your case, how to prepare for and participate in mediation, and what happens after mediation.