Family courts throughout Maryland take their role seriously. In fact, six counties in the state even have Family Division and Family Services staff members who assist Maryland parents in navigating their family law issues through a variety of family support services.

The following valuable services might be available in your county:

Co-parenting education: Most courts in Maryland require that parents in the throes of a child custody dispute attend a special co-parenting class. This class teaches parents how children and parents are affected by divorce on an emotional level; how the parent-child relationship will change; how children will adjust through transitions from house to house; how to communicate best with children and the other parent; problem-solving tips; decision-making strategies; and a variety of other important matters.

Child custody evaluation: A designated child custody evaluator may assist the court to determine what decision serves the best interest of the child or children involved. This evaluator will usually meet the parents and the children to conduct interviews. The evaluator may also meet with people outside the family who are familiar with the family’s history. They will also look at important documents and medical records.

Parenting coordination process: This process helps parents reduce conflict to benefit their children. A parenting coordinator will employ alternative dispute resolution practices to assist the parents in this regard.

Mediation services: Family law courts will usually refer parents to a mediation process to resolve their child custody issues. The mediator will assist parents in the creation of a parenting plan and help them decide other important issues pertaining to their future co-parenting relationship.

Mental health evaluation: Courts might assess the ability of parents to serve as caregivers for their children through a detailed mental health evaluation. A psychologist will interview a particular parent to create a report for the court regarding the parent’s suitability as a caretaker. In response to this evaluation, the court might even order the parent to attend counseling sessions.

If you are in the midst of a difficult child custody dispute, you might want to view the above family law services as helpful rather than a hindrance. That said, understanding your legal rights and options under Maryland family law will help you navigate these and many other issues that pertain to your child custody matter.