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Family Law Self-Help Center

LOCATION:  South Tower 1st Floor, Rm 1500
HOURS:  Walk-in service only
  • Doors open at 8:00 am Monday-Friday
    Lawyers begin taking intakes at 8:30 am. No new intakes after 4:00 pm, except on Tuesdays.
    Evening hours: Tuesdays, 4:00-8:00 pm; last walk-in at 7:30 pm

PHONE:  240-777-9079

If you begin a case as the plaintiff, or are brought into a case as a defendant, and you do not have a lawyer representing you, then you are "pro se;" that is, you are representing yourself, and you are responsible for navigating the court system, following its rules and time deadlines, and learning what you need to do to reach your goals. Without a lawyer, no one is going to do this for you.

The Family Law Self-Help Center is a FREE walk-in clinic, staffed by attorneys, that provides either general legal information or limited legal advice in family law disputes involving divorce, custody, visitation, guardianship, and child support. The Self-Help Center can help determine which family law forms are the most appropriate, help with the completion of the forms, provide information on how to navigate the system, and explain the law in general.

Please note that whether you receive advice, help with forms, or general information that applies to everyone, will depend first on your income eligibility using established state-wide income guidelines, and second, on the complexity of your case. You will still be responsible for paying all fees and costs associated with your case.

Cases we can help you with

The Family Law Self-Help Center assists individuals who want to represent themselves in SIMPLE family matters only.

Assistance we cannot provide

If the family law matter is too complex, or otherwise inappropriate for the Center (e.g., domestic violence, exceptions, emergency petitions, contested matters, or complex property or support issues), a staff attorney will attempt to refer the client to an appropriate agency or program. Individuals with contested or complex cases should retain their own attorneys.

The Family Law Self Help Center is NOT a Substitute for an Attorney

For example, Center attorneys:

  • DO NOT represent clients.
  • DO NOT file paperwork for clients.
  • DO NOT go to court with clients or help them try their 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.

Self-representation is not for everyone! If you have questions about processing the forms or are unsure about whether it is wise to handle your case without a lawyer:

  1. Contact an attorney
  2. Call the free Legal Forms Helpline at 800-818-9888
  3. Visit the free walk-in Family Law Self-Help Center

ATTENTION ATTORNEYS: The Family Law Self-Help Center Needs Your Help!

The Family Law Self-Help Center is looking for attorneys to volunteer to help self-representing individuals in family law matters with legal information and/or legal advice.

You can help in one of two ways:

  1. Impromptu Volunteering: If you happen to be at the courthouse and have a little time to spare, stop by and see one, or maybe two, clients. We almost always have a backlog of clients waiting to be seen during lunch hours (12:00 pm-2:00 pm), and could use your assistance.
  2. Scheduled Volunteering: If you have more time to spare, or prefer a more structured arrangement, please email Madeleine Jones, or stop by and consult with the Family Law Self-Help Center staff. We can let you know when the Center will be shorthanded and can most use your valuable assistance.

Please be assured that you are under no obligation to take anyone on as a client.

Family Law Self Help Center service hours can be reported as Pro Bono hours to the Court of Appeals.

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