Baltimore County & Towson Divorce Lawyer | The Scheduling Conference.
Scheduling Conferences in the Towson Courthouse.
The Circuit Court for Baltimore County holds scheduling conferences for divorce and child custody cases pursuant to MD Rule 2-501.1 and, by extension, the Baltimore County Civil Domestic Differentiated Case Management Plan. In the Towson County Courts Building, Scheduling Conferences are held on the fifth floor. They are conducted by an extremely experienced Baltimore County Family Law Magistrate. The primary purpose of the scheduling conference, as the name suggests, is to calendar future court events, but more is going on here:
- Unless you reside out-of-state and have obtained permission to appear by telephone or have a divorce with no children, your attendance at the settlement conference is mandatory.
- The notification to appear issued by the Circuit Court for Baltimore County requires parties to bring tax returns and encourages attorneys to contact one another before the settlement conference in an effort to determine whether there are any issues that can be resolved at the outset and to encourage dispute resolution on issues like child support.
- The Court will place your case on one of three "tracks" based on complexity and your assigned track determines how long your case will take and how long the attorneys are afforded to gather evidence.
- You will be asked to complete questions in writing that will determine whether your case will be a court investigation into your homelife.
- You will probably be required to attend Parent Education Classes and how your case is categorized will determine how many classes you will have to attend.
- If you have a case with children and without the "red flags" you will be assigned mediation date through the Office of Family Mediation.
The attendance of the Scheduling Conference is mandatory. Penalties for the failure to attend a scheduling conference include contempt of court, the award of counsel fees in favor of the party who does appear at the scheduling conference, and the dismissal of the case if the Plaintiff fails to appear. On the other hand, the Court is fair and will not find parties who are unable to appear for medical reasons to be in contempt of court.
Temporary Child Custody, Temporary Visitation and Temporary Child Support.
Wherever Possible, The Court Will Also Attempt To Set Up An Interim Order Concerning Custody/Visitation And Child Support To Create Stability For The Child While The Case Is Pending. This Is Why The Notice Of Scheduling Conference Issued by The Clerk Of The Court Tells Parties To Bring Their Pay Stubs And Tax Returns?Maryland Rule 2-504.1(C) States The Circuit Court For Baltimore County May Issue A Scheduling Order Requiring The Parties To Bring Preliminary Discovery To The Scheduling Conference So They May Productively Participate. In Family Law Cases, This Means The Order Setting The Scheduling Conference Will Probably Require Parties To Bring Pay Stubs And Tax Returns For Purposes Of Temporary Child Support And/Or Temporary Alimony.
Child Custody Screening In The Circuit Court for Baltimore County.
- If there are child custody issues, the client shall complete a child access screening questionnaire to determine whether a case is "high conflict." The social worker will produce an internal report assessing:
- Quality of the relationship between parent and child;
- Quality of the relationship between contesting parties and the ability to co-parent;
- Ability of each party to parent the child;
- Mental health needs of the parties;
- Mental health of the child;
- Patterns of domestic abuse;
- If the case is high-conflict, a social worker from Family Support Services will conduct an ind-depth interview to determine whether a Services Plan will be issued, which may include the following:
- Home investigations/home studies, which allows a court investigator to collect background, inspect the home, and interview the parties; when this process is complete, the investigator will produce a written report.
- Extended Parent Education Classes;
- Anger management classes;
- Supervised visitation or monitored exchanges of minor children;
- Referrals for drug and alcohol assessments and counseling;
Note: in divorce matters where there are no minor children, attorneys may request the scheduling conference be conducted via telephone conference call to save court time and attorney time.
What Scheduling Conferences Are Not
On the other hand, it is important to remember a few things:
- The Scheduling Conference is NOT a Merits Trial--do not bring all of your witnesses and exhibits. In Baltimore County, there is typically no hearing at the time of the Scheduling Conference.
- The Court will not force you to reach an agreement. There will only be an agreement if both parties agree to the terms and want there to be an agreement.
- How to use the Settlement Conference to advance your case is a strategic decision for the attorney and the client.
Call (410) 321-4994 For a Consultation With Towson Divorce & Child Custody Family Lawyer Amar S. Weisman.
Please Call (410) 321-4994 to schedule a Free Consultation. The purpose of the consultation is to decide whether you want to hire Amar S. Weisman. To obtain legal services, you must pay a retainer, see Policy on Fees/Costs. The law firm is next to The Circuit Court For Baltimore County, at 305 Allegheny Avenue, Towson, MD, 21204. We represent clients throughout the Baltimore area including Aberdeen. Abingdon, Bel Air, Bowleys Quarters, Catonsville, Cockeysville, Edgewood, Essex, Lutherville, Owings Mills, Parkville, Perry Hall, Rosedale, Sparrows Point, Timonium, Towson, Westminster and White Marsh.