Parenting Education and Mediation Services
Seminars are offered for parents when there is conflict regarding custody and/or visitation. Parents are administratively ordered to attend a single, six-hour class. All classes are held in room 110 of Courthouse East (111 North Calvert Street).
There are two types of classes: Co-Parenting Education (COPE) focuses on parents who are divorcing. Shared Parenting Education (SHAPE) is a specialized class for parents who have never been married.
Both classes focus on recognizing the complexities of co-parenting, the dynamics of conflict, and encourage a personal commitment to change.
COPE classes are held twice a month, once on a Friday and once on a Saturday. Both parents are encouraged to attend at the same time, unless there is an unusually high level of conflict, and/or domestic violence.
SHAPE classes are held on Saturdays. They are single sex. A class for fathers is held once a month and a class for mothers is held once a month.
Classes for children between the ages of 6 and 15 are held twice a month (one class in conjunction with the Saturday COPE and one class in conjunction with the Mom’s SHAPE class). The children’s classes provides children with an opportunity to see that their family is not the only one experiencing strain. The class also teaches coping mechanisms, feeling identification, and conflict resolution skills.
Mediation is an attempt to spare families and children from the acrimony that is spawned by litigation. When families are able to craft decisions themselves, they are more likely to be able to live with the results and less likely to return to court.
Mediation may be ordered if custody and/or visitation is at issue and there are no allegations of child abuse or domestic violence. If mediation is ordered, a copy of the Order will be sent to all parties and counsel, if appropriate.
Participants in mediation must attend an orientation session before mediation is scheduled. The orientation classes are held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month from 5:30 – 7:00. There is no charge for the orientation session.
After parties have attended orientation, the case is assigned to a team of two mediators. The mediators will work directly with the parties to set up a time and location for the mediation. Generally, mediations are held at the courthouse, but other arrangements can also be made.
The charge for mediation is $75.00 per hour/person. The fee may be waived upon showing of hardship and timely filed paperwork requesting a fee waiver.
Requests for Fee Waiver may be obtained in room 115 or room 108 of Courthouse East. When requesting a fee waiver, please:
- Fill out the entire form;
- Sign the form before a notary public;
- Attach proof of income from all sources;
- File the Request with the clerk’s office (room 109); and
- Mail a copy to the other party.
Fee waiver requests should be filed at least 18 days prior to a scheduled mediation.
If there is an agreement at mediation, the mediators will prepare an agreement. Parties will each be given an original signed copy. The mediators DO NOT forward a copy of the agreement to the court. Therefore, if parties wish to have a signed agreement incorporated into a court order, they are required to provide a copy of the agreement, with original signatures, to the court.