Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

What is ADR?

The Montgomery County Circuit Court offers litigants the opportunity to participate in mediation, which is a form of ADR in which a mediator assists parties in reaching a resolution before trial. Mediation can be ordered at any time during the pendency of any civil case, including family cases. If mediation is ordered by the court, the ADR coordinator will assign a mediator from the court-approved roster of ADR mediators. Mediators assigned to a case by the ADR coordinator must charge the “court rate” for the mediation. Parties and counsel may also select their own mediator from the court-approved roster of ADR mediators. If the parties select a mediator on their own, the mediator may charge the parties his or her private hourly rate for the mediation. The mediation must be completed by the date set forth in the Order, which is usually about one week in advance of the case’s pretrial hearing.

For Civil cases, ADR will be ordered after the parties have been served (or Answer is filed), and the mediation will need to be completed by the settlement pretrial hearing.  If the parties do not wish to participate in ADR, they must follow the rules to vacate ADR as found in Title 17 of the Maryland Rules. If an Order for ADR was not issued before the settlement pretrial hearing, parties may request it at the pretrial hearing (the mediation will need to be completed by the trial date).

For Family cases, custody mediation and/or property mediation will be ordered, if deemed appropriate by the Family Magistrate, at the scheduling hearing. Custody mediation is at no cost to the parties and the date of the mediation will be selected at the scheduling hearing.  If the parties are ordered to property mediation, then the ADR coordinator will assign the mediator; parties are responsible for the mediator’s fees, which may be the “court rate”. This mediation must be completed on an agreed upon date before the settlement pretrial hearing.  If parties were not ordered to custody or property mediation at the scheduling hearing, a written motion for such mediation may be filed and the court will review the request on a case-by-case basis.

Applying to be a Mediator

If you want to be listed as a Court-approved Mediator, you must fulfill the requirements set forth in Title 17 of the Maryland Rules. Additionally, all approved mediators are required to complete 4 hours of mediation training each calendar year per the Maryland Rules to be eligible to receive ongoing ADR appointments. Certificates of completion can be emailed to [email protected].

After the Administrative Judge reviews your application, you will receive a letter informing you of the results.

  1. Download the ADR Mediator Application. (PDF)
  2. NOTE: The application form requires you to have Adobe Reader version 8 or higher. Visit the Adobe Acrobat website to download the latest Adobe Reader version for free.
  3. Complete the application in its entirety.
  4. NOTE: If you are completing the application on a Mac, please note the "Preview" application will not transmit your information to us. Be sure to save your PDF to your local computer.
  5. Email the completed application to [email protected], along with the attachments necessary as stated in Title 17.


Frequently Asked Questions About ADR

The Court maintains a roster of mediators who have submitted applications, fulfilled the requirements set forth in Title 17 of the Maryland Rules, and have been approved by the Administrative Judge. The list includes Senior Judges, attorneys, mental health professionals, educators, and others. The list can be obtained by calling the ADR Director at 240-777-9054.

If the Court has chosen a mediator who is not acceptable to the parties or counsel, the Court may order a substitution. The process for obtaining a substitution is set forth in Maryland Rule 17-202.

Circuit Court rules governing ADR may be accessed through Title 17 (Alternative Dispute Resolution).

You may also download the Request to Substitute ADR Practitioner form (PDF).


Mediation sessions are usually held at the Mediator’s office but may be held at other locations, such as the Circuit Court Law Library on the 3rd floor of the North Tower.

Mediation sessions are usually scheduled for a period of 3 hours but may be extended or shortened at the discretion of the parties, counsel, or the mediator.

For Family cases, mediation will be scheduled at the scheduling hearing (the first hearing in any contested case). Thereafter, the parties can request it by filing a motion in the case and providing the reasons for requesting mediation. For Civil cases, mediation will be ordered after all parties are served (or answers are filed and no defaults are pending). However, parties may also request mediation by filing a motion in the case if they have not received an Order for ADR.

When you request an Order for ADR from the Court, the Order you receive will include instructions regarding the mediation. You will also receive a document called the “Confidential ADR Statement,” which you should fill out and send to the Mediator before mediation. This allows the Mediator to prepare for the mediation.

Complete the Confidential ADR Statement and mail that document to the Mediator in advance of the scheduled mediation. Be prepared to discuss the merits of your case with the Mediator in detail and bring any documents with you that you might need to reference during the mediation. Be prepared to sign a document at the beginning of the mediation session that sets forth the procedures and parameters for the mediation. This document includes information about the confidentiality of communications that occur during mediation.

The court may order the parties in a civil case, or a family case involving the division of marital property, to attend mediation. Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, or “ADR.” The court’s ADR program for civil cases and family cases involving the division of marital property, is different from the court’s Custody Mediation Program. The main difference is that the court’s ADR program is not free, and the litigants must compensate the mediator at the rate of $200/hour. However, the Custody Mediation Program is free of charge, as long as the parties have an open case and they qualify for the mediation session. The Custody Mediation Program gives the parties the opportunity to discuss and resolve issues involving their children, such as primary residential care, decision making, and visitation.

For more information on the Custody Mediation Program, please contact Family Division Services. For more information on the court’s ADR program, please contact the Office of the Special Magistrate.

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