The Maryland Custody & Divorce Client Workbook

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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:

  1. Get a 2-inch 3-ring binder, and two pocket-folders that can clip into a notebook;
  2. Print the Word document that is linked above on this page;
  3. Punch holes and place it in the binder;
  4. 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);
  5. 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:  September 27, 2018

Workbook Links:

Introductory Material

A copy of the license is available at Creative Commons.
You can provide feedback at

Legal Topic Checklists

G1. I want to file a case

Link one:

G2. Another party has already filed a case.

Link one:

G9. Who pays the attorney fees?

Link one:

Link two:

Link three:

Link four:

Learn more: Family Law for the People

Child- related issues

C1. Emergency – the child is in danger

Link one:

C3. Paternity – proving who is the father

Link one:

C4. Parentage – who has the right to be considered a parent

Link one:

C5. Decision-making Authority (Legal Custody)

Link one:

C6. Parenting Time (Physical Custody)

Link one:

C7. Access (Visitation)

Link one:

C8. Restrictions, conditions, or monitoring of access (visitation)

Link one:

C10. Getting an attorney for my child

Link one:

C12. Child support – there is no order in place

Link one:

Financial Statement (Child Support Guidelines) 

C14. Child support – there is already an order – it is being ignored

Link one:

Link two:

Divorce- related issues

D1. Emergency - I need to have and use property right away (residence, vehicle, bank account, etc.)

Link one:

D4. I want a limited divorce (parties stay married, but the court enters some orders)

Link one:

D5. I want an absolute divorce (marriage ends)

Link one:

D6. Financial support (alimony) – I need support

Link one:

Link two:

D7. Financial support (alimony) – the other party wants support

Link one:

Financial Statement (General) 

D10. Who gets the home?

Link one:

D11. Who gets the vehicles?

Link one:

D12. Who gets the money?

Link one:

D13. Who gets the retirement benefits?

Link one:…

Link two:

Joint Statement of Parties Concerning Marital and Non-Marital Property


Finding Legal Help

1. Your county’s family law self-help center. (
2. Reduced-fee or limited-scope lawyer referral service. (
3. County bar association. (
4. Maryland Court Self-Help Center. ( - Click on the image that says, "Click to chat.")
5. Legal services program. (
6. County law library. ( (


Financial Papers

Financial Statement (General) (also called the “Long form”) (
Financial Statement (Child Support Guidelines) (also called the “Short form”)  (
Joint Statement of Parties Concerning Marital and Non-Marital Property (also called the “9-207”) (


One step at a time

Review safety plan resources -

Write down a budget, using a Long Finanacial Statement.  (Clip it in the Financial Papers tab)

Complete a Short Finanacial Statement.  (Clip it in the Financial Papers tab)

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.

Run the child support guidelines (

Research about a “life plan” to become self-supporting.  (For example, look into local community college options.)  

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 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….

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

Discovery Related Documents

Read more about discovery at:


Creative Commons License
The Maryland Custody & Divorce Client Notebook by Joanna Shapiro & Dave Pantzer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – © Maryland State Law Library, 2019.”