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Family Division Services

Family Division

Location, Phone, Hours of Operation
Location: Montgomery County Circuit Court
South Tower 1st floor, Rm 1500
Phone: (240) 777-9060
Hours of Operation: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
 
 

As part of a comprehensive system for managing family and juvenile cases at Montgomery County Circuit Court, Family Division Services (FDS) provides a wide range of out-of-court services for the parties involved in cases before the court . We work with judges, masters, court administrators and family support services coordinators to develop family law policy, identify family cases requiring additional court-ordered services, insure that personnel familiar with the details of your case will address your concerns, and promote timely and efficient management of cases before the court.

Family Division Services is funded by a Family Law Grant provided by the Department of Family Administration, Maryland State Administrative Office of the Courts. During Fiscal Year 2008, over 8,407 family law cases were filed with the Circuit Court and over 10,000 hearings were held. These hearings were conducted by the seven Judges and five Masters assigned to hear Family cases. For a more detailed statistical view of Family Division Services, click on Family Division Annual Reports.

 

What is the Function of Family Division Services?

Family Division Services is responsible for the following:

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What is Differentiated Case Management?

Differentiated Case Management (DCM) is a comprehensive case processing plan designed to facilitate timely and appropriate resolution of cases. Every family case filed in the court is assigned a DCM track number. Tracks help the court categorize cases into different complexity levels. By doing this, the court can ensure that it is providing appropriate administrative support, expert services to explore pending issues and a level of judicial involvement that allows all cases to be heard in an organized, efficient and timely manner.

What Services Are Available?

In an effort to define issues and promote early resolution of cases, the Circuit Court offers the following services to litigants through Family Division Services:

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Who Watches Over My Case?

While the entire court structure and process is geared toward DCM, there are five Case Managers in Family Division Services who monitor the progress of family cases. To ensure that cases are receiving the appropriate resources, that filings are in a proper posture for scheduled hearings and that unresolved issues which might prevent a case from moving forward are identified, the Case Managers monitor the active caseload and act as liaisons between the Family Judges, Masters and providers of resources and services. Each case is permanently assigned to a Case Manager to ensure continuity from initial case filing through post-judgment actions.

The Family Case Managers and their contact information are listed below:

Family Case Managers Contact Information
Case Managers Phone
Christine Alexander 240-777-9063
Rick Dabbs 240-777-9064
Marianne Hendricks 240-777-9084
Amanda Barrett 240-777-9062
Lili Khozeimeh
(Adoption and Guardianship only)
240-777-9119

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What if I Want to Establish Guardianship or Adopt a Child?

Adoption and Guardianship can be complex legal matters. Please contact the Montgomery County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Line at 301-424-3454 for referrals and information about lawyers who handle adoptions. Should you qualify under their income guidelines, they may be able to refer you to an attorney who may work for a reduced fee. An attorney’s services in guiding a family through the adoption process can be extremely helpful. The following information is also available:

Reference Information:

Maryland Rules, Title 9, Chapter 100 (Adoption)
Maryland Code, Family Law Article, Title 5 (Adoption)
Maryland Rules, Title 10 (Guardianship)
Maryland Code, Estates and Trusts, Title 13 (Guardianship)
Case Law

Location for Reference Information:

Local Library

Circuit Court Law Library

On-line Maryland Laws (Maryland State Law Library)

Please file your petition for adoption and all required exhibits with the Adoption Clerk at the Family Department or the Adoptions/Appeals window located on the first floor lobby of the Courthouse. The filing fee is $105.00 (cash or check).

For additional information:

Additional information regarding filing of Adoption/Guardianship Petitions:

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Family Division Services Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What if I am the victim of domestic violence?

Please call Family Justice Center 240-773-0444. You can also call crisis line 24 hours assistance 240-777-4000. The National Domestic Violence Hotline Number is 1-800-799-72333 and TTY 1-800-787-3224. For more information visit Family Justice Center web site.

What if I cannot afford a lawyer?

You can come to Montgomery County Circuit Court Family Law Self Help Center, located on the 2nd floor of the Montgomery County Circuit Court. If you qualify for services (there are income and case complexity guidelines), one of the Family Law Self Help attorneys will be able to help you with some aspects of your case. You can also call the Montgomery County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Line at 301-424-3454 or its Pro Bono Program at 301-762-8488.

What if I need to know the date and time of my hearing?

A daily hearing schedule is available from the Circuit Court website Cases Scheduled for Court Today. For schedule information regarding future hearings, call the Circuit Court Assignment Office at 240-777-9000. Please have your case name and number available.View the Circuit Court Assignment Office homepage. You can also check the case schedule at Maryland Judiciary on-line case search at http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/.

If I want to file legal papers, where do I go?

You can file your legal papers with the Office of the Clerk of the Court, Family Department, of the Circuit Court located on the first floor of the Montgomery County Circuit Court. View Circuit Court Family Department homepage.

Does the court have mediation services available before a case is filed?

No. While the court does have mediation services, they are only available after a case is filed and if ordered by the Master at the Scheduling Hearing, which is the first hearing in family cases. View the Circuit Court Child Custody/Access Mediation Program homepage.

What if I am going to miss a co-parenting class?

Call Family Division Services at 240-777-9060. View the Circuit Court Co-Parenting Program homepage.

Does the court offer child transfer services?

No. However, there is a child transfer center located at St. James Episcopal Church, 11815 Seven Locks Road, Potomac, Maryland 20854. This service is operated by the Children’s Right Council (Phone: 301-588-0262 ; Webpage: http://www.crckids.org/).

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Common Terms You Will Hear in Family Cases

Access: Visitation

Answer: A document filed after service and in response to the complaint.

Best Interests Attorney: An attorney for the child, appointed by the court, whose function is to inform the court as to the best interests of the child. Formerly know as guardian ad litem. Child Counsel Appointment Policies & Procedures ()

Bifurcate: Sever into two parts. In family cases, custody issues are separated from property, monetary and divorce issues. Custody issues are heard and resolved first in a separate hearing.

Complaint: The initial pleading, which starts the case.

Custody:

Mediation: A process where parties meet with a neutral third person and try to resolve issues in their cases.

Merits Hearing (Trial): The final resolution of a case, heard by a Judge or Master, depending on the complexity and length of the case.

Motion: A request to the court. This can be oral (in court) or written.

Pendente Lite Hearing: These are brief hearings held on requests for temporary relief before a case has gone to trial. Some issues covered in these hearings include child support, alimony, visitation, attorney and expert fees, and contribution to household expenses.

Post Judgment: All matters heard after the final resolution of a case (merits). This includes any requests to modify prior orders concerning child support, visitation, custody, alimony, etc.

Service: Providing copies of papers being filed with the court to the other side.

Scheduling Hearing: Initial hearing held after all opposing parties have been served. The purpose of the hearing is to determine contested issues, order services, set dates for the case, and determine the proper track for the case.

Settlement/Status Hearing: A hearing where the Family Division Master attempts to settle or narrow the issues to be heard at the Custody Merits Hearing (Trial).

Settlement/Pre-Trial Hearing: A hearing where the Family Division Master attempts to settle or narrow the issues to be heard at the Custody Merits Hearing (Trial) covering property, monetary, and divorce issues.

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Family Division Structure

Family Division Services is comprised of the following:

Family Judges and Masters

Family Division Services

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Family Division Annual Reports

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Family Case Processing Flowcharts

Basic Steps in an Uncontested Divorce Case

* Uncontested Divorce – Neither you nor your spouse is going to stop the divorce AND there are no issues for the court to decide about children, money or property.

Basic Steps in a Contested Divorce Case

Note: This chart is a general guide. There could be circumstances in a case that might alter the "regular" schedule.

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Montgomery County Circuit Court
50 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850
Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM