Maryland's Family Divisions are a Model for Change

Trends in State Courts: Special Focus on Family Law and Court Communications, 2016

University of Baltimore School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-08

8 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2016 Last revised: 30 Aug 2016

See all articles by Barbara A. Babb

Barbara A. Babb

University of Baltimore - School of Law

Gloria Danziger

University of Baltimore - School of Law

Michele Hong-Polansky

University of Baltimore - School of Law

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

In fiscal year 2014, 43 percent of all cases filed in Maryland’s trial court of general jurisdiction (the circuit court) were family law cases (Court Operations Department, 2014: CC-5). Historically, Maryland courts, like many states’ family justice systems, lacked a uniform structure to consolidate family law issues for an individual family. As a result, families often faced multiple hearings before different judges in different courtrooms to address a variety of issues, such as divorce, domestic violence, delinquency, and child abuse/neglect.

This system created tremendous hardship for families (particularly low-income families, many of whom were self-represented litigants) and resulted in fragmented service delivery and inconsistent decision making.

Through the leadership and dedication of former Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, in 1998 the judges of the Maryland Court of Appeals signed Maryland Rule 16-204 (see Babb, 2013: 1126). This rule created family divisions in the circuit courts of Maryland’s five largest jurisdictions and transformed how Maryland courts handle family law cases.

Keywords: Maryland, Maryland Rule 16-204, Family Divisions, Maryland Circuit Courts

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Babb, Barbara A. and Danziger, Gloria and Hong-Polansky, Michele, Maryland's Family Divisions are a Model for Change (2016). Trends in State Courts: Special Focus on Family Law and Court Communications, 2016, University of Baltimore School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-08, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2798705

Barbara A. Babb (Contact Author)

University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )

1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States
410-837-5661 (Phone)
410-837-5737 (Fax)

Gloria Danziger

University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )

1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States

Michele Hong-Polansky

University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )

1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States

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