Helping divorce and family law clients in Maryland keep their cases moving forward

As of this writing, Maryland courts are closed to the public. Because things change rapidly, however, we wanted you to be able to find information about Howard County and Montgomery County courts quickly and easily. The following information has been complied by the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA), the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, and the Circuit Court for Howard County.

At this time, all Juvenile and Family Courts are closed through June 5, 2020. The Court of Appeals of Maryland issued an Administrative Order on May 22, 2020, discussing a 5-phase reopening of the courts in the state. The following information is applicable through that date. McCabe Russell, P.A. will update this page as needed to ensure that you have the most up-to-p-date information. To schedule a remote consultation with an attorney from our team, call or email us today.

Scheduling conferences for family law matters in Montgomery County

Non-emergency operations will resume in Montgomery County starting June 8, 2020. As of this time, previously set scheduling conferences will be heard by telephone, starting Monday, June 22. Pendente Lite hearings that had been set for March 16 through July 2, however, are going to be removed from the docket entirely. You will have to request a new hearing when appropriate, because they will not be rescheduled automatically.

Seeking an uncontested divorce in Montgomery County

Starting May 4th, the Circuit Court for Montgomery County will begin offering remote hearings for uncontested divorce cases scheduled in May and June. These audio-only proceedings hearings will be scheduled in 15 minute increments, and counsel is required to provide the call-in information to their clients. The following Magistrates will be handling remote hearings during the following weeks:

Magistrate WhittierMay 4th – May 8th
Magistrate KhozeimehMay 11th – May 15th
Magistrate SegelMay 18th – May 22nd
Magistrate PolisMay 26th – May 29th
Magistrate GoldmanJune 1st – June 5th

The Court has provided the following information:

The following hearings will be removed and reset to occur after the court reopens to the public: (1) hearings requiring an interpreter, (2) cases that are not in a posture to go forward (e.g. no answer/no default), and (3) cases that do not have all required documents in the file at least one week prior to the hearing.  Required items include marital settlement agreements and child support guidelines (if applicable).

You can read the full memorandum here.

Seeking an uncontested divorce in Howard County

Howard County is also offering remote hearings for uncontested divorces. For now, the burden falls mainly to counsel to ensure such a hearing is scheduled:

  1. File all pleadings
  2. Email the Circuit Court to say that all parties consent to a remote hearing. Be sure to include the case name and number.
  3. Provide a Wednesday or Friday date that all parties and their respective counsel will be available for a Go-To meeting.

Can I move my civil motion forward without a hearing in Montgomery County?

Yes, you can. Effective Monday, April 27, 2020 through June 4, 2020, if you have a civil motion pending in your divorce or family law case, and you wish to forgo a hearing altogether, you may do so. Opposing counsel must consent in order to take advantage of this option.

Once you have submitted all of your filings, as well as an email showing that opposing counsel consents, the court will make a decision based on the papers. This decision will be legally binding, just as any decision made after a hearing would be.

Additional updates from the MSBA – through June 5, 2020

  • Administrative Order. Expands and extends the emergency operations of courts through June 5, 2020
  • Administrative Order. Guidance for response of trial courts to the COVID-19 emergency as it relates to incarcerated or imprisoned individuals
  • Administrative Order. Protecting juveniles in detention and prevents further detention unless necessary

Administrative orders from the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

Effective through June 5, 2020, “Standing Order 2020-07 extends the court closures through June 5, 2020 (previously April 24), and orders the following:

  • Postpones and continues all civil and criminal petit jury selections, jury trials, and all other civil, criminal, and bankruptcy proceedings through June 5, 2020, unless another date is established by the presiding judge or other order.
  • Extends all filing deadlines for cases scheduled between March 16 – June 5, 2020 by 84 days unless otherwise ordered by a presiding judge or further order.
  • The 30 day period for filing an indictment or information is tolled from March 16 through June 5, 2020.
  • Courts will remain open for emergency proceedings related to public safety, health, welfare, and individual liberty.”

The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland also issued another order regarding the suspension of filing deadlines for discovery in all pending matters. Per the MSBA, the suspension “does not include the conduct of discovery in civil cases, provided that all parties agree to continue with discovery and that discovery would not oppose public health orders related to COVID-19. If parties are unable to agree as to whether discovery should be conducted, they shall meet and try to resolve the disagreement. If unable to reach resolution, they shall file a joint letter setting forth the nature of the dispute and each party’s position.”

Which family law cases are still being heard in person?

Certain types of emergency cases are still being heard in person. The Maryland Courts website lists the following cases related to family law:

  • Domestic violence hearings
  • Peace order hearings
  • Extreme risk protective order hearings
  • Family law emergencies (custody, child access, visitation, support) including urgent matters related to special juvenile immigrant status
  • Shelter care or adjudications (Child in Need of Assistance (CINA))
  • Emergency guardianship matters
  • Temporary restraining orders
  • Contempt relating to peace or protective orders

Some of these cases may be expedited.

If you have questions about how the courts are operating in Maryland, McCabe Russell, PA can answer them. We invite you to check back often for updates. Please call 443-812-1435 or fill out this contact form to reserve a consultation time.