What is this Project?
The Maryland Custody & Divorce Client Notebook helps clients to navigate a family law case from start to finish, with the help of an attorney (or attorneys) from self-help, legal services, pro bono, or the paid private bar. The notebook itself helps clients keep papers and evidence with them, and in one place. Inside, the "Topic of Dispute" chart is the heart of the tool, helping clients to identify and understand the key issues and evidence that will make or break their case. A calendar and journal help the client record facts and gather evidence even before they find a lawyer. And the other sections help a lawyer (or the client, if no lawyer is involved) to navigate a settlement or a trial.
It is important for a client to speak with a legal professional who can explain how the notebook works, but anyone can make one. Here are the steps:
- Get a 2-inch 3-ring binder, and two pocket-folders that can clip into a notebook;
- Print the Word document that is linked above on this page;
- Punch holes and place it in the binder;
- Insert tabs at the places the word document shows (tabs can be purchased, or can be sticky notes stapled to the provided page - but it's important to have the tabs);
- Place the two pocket-folders in the notebook (one to hold your evidence, and one for court papers, before you get to hole punch them).
Latest Revision: May 5, 2017
Legal Topic Checklists
G1. I want to file a case
G2. Another party has already filed a case.
G9. Who pays the attorney fees?
Link one: https://www.peoples-law.org/get-help
Link three: https://www.peoples-law.org/reduced-fee-services
Learn more: Family Law for the People
Child- related issues
C1. Emergency – the child is in danger
C3. Paternity – proving who is the father
Link one: https://www.peoples-law.org/paternity
C4. Parentage – who has the right to be considered a parent
C5. Decision-making Authority (Legal Custody)
C6. Parenting Time (Physical Custody)
C7. Access (Visitation)
C8. Restrictions, conditions, or monitoring of access (visitation)
C10. Getting an attorney for my child
C12. Child support – there is no order in place
C14. Child support – there is already an order – it is being ignored
Divorce- related issues
D1. Emergency - I need to have and use property right away (residence, vehicle, bank account, etc.)
D4. I want a limited divorce (parties stay married, but the court enters some orders)
D5. I want an absolute divorce (marriage ends)
D6. Financial support (alimony) – I need support
Link two: https://www.peoples-law.org/alimony-quiz
D7. Financial support (alimony) – the other party wants support
D10. Who gets the home?
D11. Who gets the vehicles?
D12. Who gets the money?
D13. Who gets the retirement benefits?
Finding Legal Help
1. Your county’s family law self-help center. (http://mdcourts.gov/family/familylawassistance.html#familyservices)
2. Reduced-fee or limited-scope lawyer referral service. (https://www.peoples-law.org/reduced-fee-services)
3. County bar association. (http://www.msba.org/public/lawyer-referral.aspx)
4. Maryland Court Self-Help Center. (www.peoples-law.org - Click on the image that says, "Click to chat.")
5. Legal services program. (www.peoples-law.org/directory)
6. Hotline (www.peoples-law.org/hotlines) or http://Maryland.freelegalanswers.org.
7. County law library. (http://www.lawlib.state.md.us/researchtools/otherlibraries.html) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Financial Statement (General) (also called the “Long form”) (http://www.mdcourts.gov/family/forms/ccdr031.pdf)
Financial Statement (Child Support Guidelines) (also called the “Short form”) (http://www.mdcourts.gov/family/forms/ccdr030.pdf)
Joint Statement of Parties Concerning Marital and Non-Marital Property (also called the “9-207”) (http://www.mdcourts.gov/family/forms/ccdr033.pdf)
One step at a time
Review safety plan resources - https://www.peoples-law.org/creating-safety-plan-0
Write down a budget, using a Long Finanacial Statement. (Clip it in the Financial Papers tab) http://www.courts.state.md.us/family/forms/ccdr031.pdf
Complete a Short Finanacial Statement. (Clip it in the Financial Papers tab) http://www.courts.state.md.us/family/forms/ccdr030.pdf
Write a list of your assets – include everything, and let a lawyer advise you if any items should be left off. (Clip it in the Financial Papers tab) Use the Joint Statement of Property form as a guide. http://www.courts.state.md.us/family/forms/ccdr031.pdf
Run the child support guidelines (www.peoples-law.org/calculating-child-support)
Research about a “life plan” to become self-supporting. (For example, look into local community college options.) www.peoples-law.org/workbook#life
To get an idea of what the courts can and cannot do for you, we recommend that you attend a Family Law for the People seminar. Visit www.peoples-law.org/family-law-for-the-people to find a session near you, and to sign up.
If you can’t afford the fees – complete and file a Motion to Waive the Pre-payment of the Filing Fee, available at the courthouse or http://mdcourts.gov/courtforms/joint/ccdc089.pdf.
Have the Opposing Party(ies) Served: The court will issue a WRIT OF SUMMONS (or, if you are filing a Petition for Contempt, the court will issue a completed Show Cause Order). It is YOUR responsibility to make sure the other party receives a copy of the Writ (or Show Cause Order) and a copy of the documents you filed, within the time limit (often 30 days). You cannot personally be the one to serve the other parties. For more information, read https://www.peoples-law.org/frequently-asked-questions-about-service-process-maryland.
Discovery Related Documents
Read more about discovery at: https://www.peoples-law.org/maryland-circuit-court-discovery
The Maryland Custody & Divorce Client Notebook by Joanna Shapiro & Dave Pantzer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.