The following Family Services and programs are available to the Circuit Court for Queen Anne's County:
- Appointment of Counsel for Minors
- Children's Program
- Family Law Clinic
- Home Study Investigation
- Online Parent Education Program
- Other Family Service Resources
- Psychological Evaluations
- Self-Help Legal Resources
- Supervised Access
- Substance Use Assessments
- Abuse Prevention Programs
Appointment of Counsel for Minors
The Court may appoint counsel for minors, upon consideration of the best interests of children in contested issues, and at the request of either party. Parties are to pay a deposit fee retainer into the appointed attorney’s trust account as outlined in the Court Order. 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(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 may order parties to enroll children into the Children’s Program when deemed necessary. This is a nontherapeutic program designed solely for children. The Children’s Program is designed provide children with an understanding of if and why their family dynamics may be changing and how they fit into this change. This program allows for a positive setting where children can process feelings of change that are involved during parents’ divorce and/or separation period, and changes in custody, through interactive discussions with peers.
The Children’s Program is available to ages 5 – 13 years. Children will be required to attend two (2) Saturday sessions, one (1) hour each session. All sessions are currently held virtually. Instructors shall file the required, Report of Instructor, with the Clerk’s Office, within seven (7) days upon completion of the final program session. Parties are responsible for the cost of the Children’s Program, as instructed in the Court Order.
The Court may order one or both parties to attend individual or family counseling in contested or high conflict cases. Parties are responsible for the fees, as instructed in the Court Order and/or by the individual counseling agencies.
Family Law Clinic
The Family Law Clinic provides access to a volunteer family law attorney. The attorney provides legal assistance, through a free and limited consultation on how to represent yourself. The consultation may also include answering or clarifying questions about court procedures, making referrals to legal service providers or community resources. The attorney may also aid in obtaining and completing the appropriate forms related to matters of divorce, custody/visitation, modification of child support, modification of custody/visitation, guardianship and name change.
The Family Law Clinic operates during the week, on a first-come, first-served basis, at the Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court, via a remote platform. The Family Law Clinic hours of operation are as follows: Monday through Friday, from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Read the flyer here.
If you are unable to attend a clinic refer to Self-Help Legal Resources on this page
Home Study Investigation
The Court may order a home study of one or both parties. The investigator will conduct a full investigation and have full access to all outlined documents named in the Court order. The investigator will prepare a written report of findings, including recommendations, to the Court. Criminal background check is required for all adult residents of the home. Verbal testimony may also be required by the Court. These investigations are utilized by the Court for custody and adoption cases. Parties are responsible for the cost of a home study, as instructed in the Court Order and/or by the investigator. These fees must be paid in advance and directly to the investigator identified in the Court Order before the investigation will begin. The investigator requires ninety days (90) to complete a report and file with the Clerk.
The Court can order mediation for different types of matters; financial/property, parenting time (visitation), child access (custody), child support, and other disputes. Mediation sessions are available in-person or virtual, determined between mediator and parties. The Clerk of Court maintains a list of qualified mediators. Further information can be found on the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program page.
Mediation is designed to assist parties with setting clear expectations, reducing conflict, and avoiding the cost, stress and reliance on the Court to handle parenting issues. The Maryland Parenting Plan Tool has been created to provide a written agreement describing how parties will care for and make decisions about their child(ren). Mediators and parties are encouraged to use this tool as an aid to reach an agreement. Further information related to the Maryland Parenting Plan Tool can be found by visiting the Parenting Plan Website and Parenting Plan Video Series.
Court-Appointed Mediator: Mediators are appointed by the Court, if it is concluded that a case may benefit from ADR. Parties are responsible for the cost of mediation, as instructed in the Court Order and/or by the mediator.
No-Fee Mediator: Trained mediators from Community Mediation Upper Shore (CMUS) Inc. are available for assignment from the Court, if it is concluded that a case may benefit from ADR. There are no fees for mediation with CMUS.
Online Parent Education Program
The Court may order parties to enroll in an online co-parenting class when deemed necessary. The Online Parent Education Program is a six-hour educational class that is offered online to help parents manage family changes in a positive, respectful manner and is designed to minimize the disruptive effects of conflict, separation and divorce on the lives of children and parents. Parents will learn skills that can help their children adjust to the situation. The focus is on the importance of parents meeting the needs of their children emotionally and financially. The program is offered in English and Spanish. Parties are responsible for the cost of the Online Parent Education Program, as instructed in the Court Order.
The program also introduces the Maryland Parenting Plan Tool that can be used during mediation that outlines a written agreement describing how parties will care for and make decisions about their children. Further information related to the Maryland Parenting Plan Tool can be found by visiting the Parenting Plan Website and Parenting Plan Video Series.
Other Family Service Resources
Language Portals: The Maryland Judiciary provides Court interpreters to those who are Limited English Proficient (LEP) in civil, criminal, and juvenile proceedings and are paid for by the Administrative Office of the Courts. To request a spoken language interpreter for a court appearance, please submit a Request for Spoken Language Interpreter (CCDC041) form.
Maryland Family Law Court Forms: Use the links below to find most forms.
Maryland DHS Child Support Administration: Works with both parents to provide the financial, medical and emotional support children need to grow and thrive. The link below will provide access to general information to include; myHR account, child support calculator, support payment portal, forms, frequently asked questions and more.
Mid-Shore Counsel on Family Violence (MSCFV): A resource aimed at ending abuse. MSCFV is a point of access for assistance on domestic violence in the following counties: Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot. MSCFV provides programs that meet victim’s unique needs, challenges and strengths. Programs offered at MSCFV are as follows: Holistic Case Management, Emergency Shelter, Community Education, Economic Empowerment, Hispanic Services, Abuser Intervention, Adult Anger Management, Homelessness Prevention, Domestic 24/7 Hotline, Housing, Immigrant Service, Law Enforcement Support, Legal Program, Mental Health and Counseling, and Pet Safety Program.
- 24/7 Domestic Violence HOTLINE: (1-800) 927-4673
- Phone: (410) 690-3222
- Address: 8626 Brooks Dr., Suite 102, Easton Maryland, 21601
People’s Law Library: A resource for self-represented litigants to obtain information about the law, including summaries of the laws, links to primary and secondary legal sources and referrals for legal services.
Queen Anne’s County Department of Human Services: Assists people in economic need, provides preventive services, and protect vulnerable children and adults in Maryland.
- Phone: (410) 758-8000
- Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
- Address: 125 Comet Drive, Centreville MD 21617
The Court may order one or both parties to submit to a mental health evaluation by a Court appointed evaluator. The evaluation may include, but not be limited to the following: psychological testing, interviews, other diagnostic tools, review of prior mental health treatment records, and other health-related records. Parties are responsible for the cost of a Psychological Evaluation, as instructed in the Court Order and/or by the evaluator. A final report is filed and sealed by the Court.
Self-Help Legal Resources
Family Law Attorney Hotline: A free service to people with basic family law questions. The hotline is staffed by attorneys experienced in family law and there is no fee for this service.
- Phone: (1-800) 845-8550
- Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Family Law Self-Help Videos: Have a legal problem and don’t know where to begin? These videos may help. Each video includes transcripts in English and Spanish, a tip sheet, and links to resources, forms, and court services.
Mid-Shore Pro Bono: Provides legal assistance to individuals throughout the Eastern Shore on specific legal matters.
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. The monitor will have the discretion and authorization to terminate any scheduled access and/or contact law enforcement authorities. Parties are responsible for the cost of supervised access, as instructed in the Court Order. All fees shall be paid at least 48 hours prior to any scheduled access.
The Court may order one or both parties to submit to an in-depth substance use assessment, hair follicle substance use assessment and/or rapid substance use screening.
In-depth Substance Use Assessment: Court may refer parties to the Queen Anne's County Health Department, through its Drug and Alcohol Abuse Services Department at the Nielsen Center. The Nielsen Center provides substance use assessments, recommendations, referrals and urinalysis as needed. Written reports are submitted to the Court. Verbal testimony may also be required by the court. Parties are responsible for the cost of their own substance use assessment, as instructed in the Court Order and/or by the testing facility. The fees are on a sliding scale based on ability to pay; further questions should be directed to the testing facility.
Hair Follicle Substance Use Assessment: Court may refer parties to the Health Enhancement Center. The Health Enhancement Center provides substance assessments and various other tests, as needed. Written reports are submitted to the court. Verbal testimony may also be required by the court. Parties are responsible for the cost of their own hair follicle substance use assessment, as instructed in the Court Order and/or by the testing facility.
Rapid Substance Use Screening: Court may refer parties to White Glove Drug & Alcohol Testing, Inc. White Glove specializes in performing onsite and emergency collection services. Electronic and printed reports are submitted to the Court. Parties are responsible for the cost of their own rapid substance use screening, as instructed in the Court Order and/or by the testing facility.
Abuse Prevention Programs
The Court may order one or both parties, in a contested domestic case, to one of the following programs: Adult Anger Management or Abuser Intervention Program, facilitated through Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence (MSCFV). All parties are screened for appropriateness of placement.
*All the above-mentioned fees may be waived by the Court, upon the filing of a formal motion/request for waiver, and a supporting affidavit of financial need is documented.