Fathers' Rights

Baltimore

Cordell & Cordell is a partner dads can count on during one of the toughest challenges of their lives. The family law attorneys at our Baltimore, Maryland, office are dedicated to helping men with any divorce issue, including property division, alimony, child support and child custody.

Our mission is to give men the legal support they and their children deserve both in and out of the courtroom.

Divorce Attorneys Dedicated to Helping Men

Divorce takes an emotional toll on everyone, no matter how tough you are. The decisions you make during this time will have an enormous impact on you financially for the rest of your life.

More importantly, your level of involvement in your children’s lives can also be affected. Our attorneys take the time to listen to your concerns and work diligently to champion your rights and the rights of your children in family court.

We know how critical this transition is and promise to walk you through each step of the process while doing everything possible to protect what’s most important to you.

Advocates For Dad’s Rights and Fathers’ Rights

Since 1990, Cordell & Cordell has fought against numerous stereotypes that men and fathers face in the family court system. Our firm’s focus on men’s divorce gives our attorneys a unique understanding of the challenges men face in a Maryland family law courtroom.

Despite battling a system that seems predisposed against them, Cordell & Cordell has risen to establish ourselves as a partner men can count on.

Military
At Cordell & Cordell, we understand the unique challenges military families face during divorce.

Client Testimonials

5/5

“Michael is doing  great job.  He is doing everything well.  Sometimes it is difficult to get the other side to respond, but as soon as he has an update he gets the information to us.  He is doing amazing.”

5/5

“Heath does an excellent job! I couldn’t ask for anyone better. Being in the middle of all of this, it is very hard not to think with your heart. Heath keeps me in control. He always has my best interest in mind and works hard to guide me the right way. His advice is always spot on. I always feel informed and he always gives me my options. For what it is, and how bad of a situation it is, Heath has made this as easy as possible. Heath has already proven to be a much better attorney than opposing counsel. … “

5/5

“Brittany has been great! I have been getting excellent representation and overall have really enjoyed working with her.”

Frequently Asked Baltimore City Divorce Questions

How long do I have to live in Baltimore City before I can file for divorce?

In order to file a complaint for divorce in the State of Maryland, you or your spouse has to have been a resident of the state for at least six months. The divorce complaint must be filed in the circuit court for the county where the Plaintiff (the party filing for divorce) lives or where the Defendant (other party) lives, works, or owns a business.

So, if you or your spouse have lived in Maryland for the last year and you presently live in Baltimore City, or your estranged spouse lives, works, or owns a business in Baltimore City, you may file in Baltimore City.

Is there a mandatory waiting period in Baltimore City before a divorce can be granted? How long will a divorce take?

There is no mandatory waiting period in Baltimore before a divorce can be granted. There are, however, specific time requirements that govern when a Complaint for a Limited and/or Absolute Divorce can be filed.

The length of the divorce process depends on several factors, including the complexity of the case. The more issues the parties are in agreement with the faster the process may be able to move along. If the case is for an Uncontested Divorce, meaning that the parties agree to the divorce and the grounds thereof, and there are no issues regarding minor children or property, the case could go to trial in several months.

If the case is a contested divorce and/or there are issues regarding minor children and/or property distribution, the court will first schedule a Scheduling Conference, which will probably not occur for several months.

At the Scheduling Conference a judge or magistrate will talk to the parties and determine what services, conferences and/or other hearings are needed prior to the final trial.

This will ultimately determine the length of the entire proceeding, if it is not subsequently postponed or continues by request of the parties or necessity of the Court.

Keep in mind that the domestic division of the Circuit Court of Baltimore City is a busy docket and can get backlogged.

How can I serve my spouse in Baltimore City? If attempts to serve do not work, can I serve by publication?

After filing your Complaint, you will receive from the court a Summons. This Summons and a copy of your Complaint will have to be served on your spouse.

This is called Process. Process can be served by either the Sherriff or a private person over the age of 18, who is not a party to the action.

The person filing the Complaint cannot serve Process on the other party.

Service of Process can be effectuated in several ways. It is best to serve initial pleadings by personal service directly on the defendant. Process can be served by certified mail, but this can create problems, especially if someone other than the defendant signs the certificate.

There are alternate methods of process that may be ordered by the court if it can be shown that the defendant is evading service or if good faith efforts for delivery have not otherwise successful. The court will order which alternate method of service is to be used.

Alternate methods may include service by first class mail to the defendant’s last known address and delivering a copy of the same to a person of suitable age and discretion at the place of business of the defendant. If the court orders that service by publication is permissible, The Daily Record is the local publication typically used.

What are the specific forms I will need to file for a divorce in Baltimore City?

To file for divorce you will need to file a Complaint, a Financial Statement, and a Domestic Case Information Report. The clerk’s office has fill-in-the-blank forms for a Complaint. They also have the Financial Statement and Domestic Case Information Report.  All of these documents are also available at the Maryland Judiciary website.

It is important to note that the Complaint forms that the court has are very generic and will most likely not be tailored to fit some of the specifics in your case. Also, the clerks will not be able to assist you in filling out the forms.

Baltimore City does offer a separate pro se (parties representing themselves without an attorney) assistance program that will provide support in completing the forms. This program is offered Monday through Friday at the Baltimore City Circuit Court, Courthouse East. This service is in high demand and they are only able to assist a certain amount of people at any given time.

Where do I file for divorce in Baltimore City?

All Domestic (Family Law) matters, like divorce, child custody, child support, paternity, and guardianship in Baltimore City are conducted through the Family Division of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

The Circuit Court for Baltimore City is located in two buildings directly across from each other on the 100 block of North Calvert Street. The courthouse to the west is referred to as “Courthouse West” or the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse. The courthouse to the east, which is located in the old Post Office building, is referred to as “Courthouse East.”

The Family Division is located on the first floor of Courthouse East, 111 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, Maryland, 21202.

Note: A petition for protection from domestic violence may be filed in any District Court or Circuit Court in Maryland.

How much are divorce filing fees in Baltimore City?

Filing fees for a Civil Complaint are $165. The Entry of Appearance (for an attorney) fee is $20.

There is a petition that may be filled out to request that the court waive these filing fees. Filing fees will only be waived, however, if the petitioning party can show poverty.

NOTE: The clerks can only accept cash, money order, or attorney’s check. They will not accept personal checks or credit cards.

NOTE: There is a separate charge of $40 for service of process by the Sherriff’s Office, payable by money order. This is not a mandatory fee, but only if you chose to use the sheriff’s office to serve the other party.

Are there any Baltimore City-Specific laws that are different from how other family law cases around the state are handled?

There are no specific laws that differ between Circuit Courts, but each court may have slightly different procedural methods. For instance, in Baltimore City, when you go to a Scheduling Conference, the entire case will be scheduled, from Settlement Conference to trial.

In Baltimore County, the court will not schedule the trial until after the Settlement Conference has been held and if no settlement was reached.

How should I dress for court dates?

It is very important that you show deference to the court. While the court will not likely turn you away for how you are dressed, it may affect the way you come across to the judge. At a minimum, parties that are to appear in court should wear clothing that would be classified as business casual.

Do wear slacks, skirts, collared shirts, sweaters, blazers, and dress shoes.

Do not wear sagging, jeans, revealing tops, t-shirts with slogans, and flip-flops.

There have been judges in Baltimore City that have made men pull up sagging pants before allowing them to address the court, and women, who have been showing what a judge considered an inappropriate amount of skin, have been asked to leave the courtroom.

How should I address the judge?

Judges should be addressed as Judge or, preferably, Your Honor.  A judge should never be addressed as sir, madam, or miss.

If you are in front of a magistrate, they may be addressed as magistrate, or Your Honor.

What is a magistrate? What is the difference between a magistrate and a judge?

A magistrate in the Family Division is an attorney who has developed an expertise in family law. The court has expressed trust in these individuals and given them the power to handle certain matters within the Family Division.

A magistrate conducts a hearing in the same manner as the Trial Court, and the same procedural and evidentiary rules apply. The magistrate, however, is not a member of the judiciary and therefore cannot make a final judgment.

Instead, magistrates will make a report and recommendation to the trial judge. If no exceptions (see below) are filed to the report and recommendation, and if the judge accepts it, they will pass a final Order of Court in accord with what the magistrate has recommended.

If one of the parties to the action is not satisfied with the magistrate’s report and recommendation, they are permitted to file exceptions to the same within 10 days from the date of the report and recommendation. A trial court would then review the exceptions.

Can I bring my cell phone into the courthouse?

Yes, however, it must be silenced while you are in a courtroom. If the phone should ring in court, or if the vibration is strong enough to be heard, your phone will be confiscated by the court. It is likely that your phone will not be returned to you until the end of the day.

Taking photographs within the courthouse is prohibited.

It is always possible that the rules regarding cell phones and other electronic devices may change or vary depending on the county. You should confirm the court’s rules prior to your appearance.

Frequently Asked Baltimore County Divorce Questions

How long do I have to live in Baltimore County before I can file for divorce?

In order to file a complaint for divorce in the State of Maryland, you or your spouse has to have been a resident of the state for at least a year. The divorce complaint must be filed in the circuit court for the county where the Plaintiff (the party filing for divorce) lives or where the Defendant (other party) lives, works, or owns a business.

So, if you or your spouse have lived in Maryland for the last year and you presently live in Baltimore County, or your estranged spouse lives, works, or owns a business in Baltimore County, then you may file in Baltimore County.

Is there a mandatory waiting period in Baltimore County before a divorce can be granted? How long will a divorce take?

There is no mandatory waiting period in Baltimore before a divorce can be granted. There are, however, specific time requirements that govern when a Complaint for a Limited and/or Absolute Divorce can be filed.

The length of the divorce process depends on several factors, including the complexity of the case. The more issues the parties are in agreement with the faster the process may be able to move along. If the case is for an Uncontested Divorce, meaning that the parties agree to the divorce and the grounds thereof, and there are no issues regarding minor children or property, the case could go to trial in several months.

If the case is a contested divorce and/or there are issues regarding minor children and/or property distribution, the court will first schedule a Scheduling Conference, which will probably not occur for several months.

At the Scheduling Conference a judge or magistrate will talk to the parties and determine dates for such things as a discovery deadline; whether or not a pendete lite hearing should be held; and the date for a Settlement Conference. If the case has not reached settlement at the time of the Settlement Conference, it will then be set in for a trial.

Keep in mind that the domestic division of the Circuit Court of Baltimore County is a busy docket and can get backlogged.

How can I serve my spouse in Baltimore County? If attempts to serve do not work, can I serve by publication?

After filing your Complaint, you will receive from the court a Summons. This Summons and a copy of your Complaint will have to be served on your spouse.

This is called Process. Process can be served by either the Sherriff or a private person over the age of 18, who is not a party to the action.

The person filing the Complaint cannot serve Process on the other party.

Service of Process can be effectuated in several ways. It is best to serve initial pleadings by personal service directly on the defendant. Process can be served by certified mail, but this can create problems, especially if someone other than the defendant signs the certificate.

There are alternate methods of process that may be ordered by the court if it can be shown that the defendant is evading service or if good faith efforts for delivery have not otherwise successful. The court will order which alternate method of service is to be used.

Alternate methods may include service by first class mail to the defendant’s last known address and delivering a copy of the same to a person of suitable age and discretion at the place of business of the defendant. If the court orders that service by publication is permissible, The Daily Record is the local publication typically used.

What are the specific forms I will need to file for a divorce in Baltimore County?

To file for divorce you will need to file a Complaint, a Financial Statement, and a Domestic Case Information Report. The clerk’s office has fill-in-the-blank forms for a Complaint. They also have the Financial Statement and Domestic Case Information Report.  All of these documents are also available at the Maryland Judiciary website.

It is important to note that the Complaint forms that the court has are very generic and will most likely not be tailored to fit some of the specifics in your case. Also, the clerks will not be able to assist you in filling out the forms.

Where do I file for divorce in Baltimore County?

All Domestic (Family Law) matters, like divorce, child custody, child support, paternity, and guardianship in Baltimore County are conducted through the Family Division of the Circuit Court for Baltimore County.

The Circuit Court for Baltimore County is located at 401 Bosley Avenue, Towson, Maryland, 21204.

Note: A petition for protection from domestic violence may be filed in any District Court or Circuit Court in Maryland.

How much are divorce filing fees in Baltimore County?

Filing fees for a Civil Complaint are $165. The Entry of Appearance (for an attorney) fee is $20.

There is a petition that may be filled out to request that the court waive these filing fees. Filing fees will only be waived, however, if the petitioning party can show poverty.

NOTE: The clerks can only accept cash, money order, or attorney’s check. They will not accept personal checks or credit cards.

NOTE: There is a separate charge of $40 for service of process by the Sherriff’s Office, payable by money order. This is not a mandatory fee, but only if you chose to use the sheriff’s office to serve the other party.

Are there any Baltimore County-Specific laws that are different from how other family law cases around the state are handled?

There are no specific laws that differ between Circuit Courts, but each court may have slightly different procedural methods. For instance, in Baltimore City, when you go to a Scheduling Conference, the entire case will be scheduled, from Settlement Conference to trial.

In Baltimore County, the court will not schedule the trial until after the Settlement Conference has been held and if no settlement was reached.

How should I dress for court dates?

It is very important that you show deference to the court. While the court will not likely turn you away for how you are dressed, it may affect the way you come across to the judge. At a minimum, parties that are to appear in court should wear clothing that would be classified as business casual.

Do wear slacks, skirts, collared shirts, sweaters, blazers, and dress shoes.

Do not wear sagging, jeans, revealing tops, t-shirts with slogans, and flip-flops.

How should I address the judge?

Judges should be addressed as Judge or, preferably, Your Honor.  A judge should never be addressed as sir, madam, or miss.

If you are in front of a magistrate, they may be addressed as magistrate, or Your Honor.

What is a magistrate? What is the difference between a magistrate and a judge?

A magistrate in the Family Division is an attorney who has developed an expertise in family law. The court has expressed trust in these individuals and given them the power to handle certain matters within the Family Division.

A magistrate conducts a hearing in the same manner as the Trial Court, and the same procedural and evidentiary rules apply. The magistrate, however, is not a member of the judiciary and therefore cannot make a final judgment.

Instead, magistrates will make a report and recommendation to the trial judge. If no exceptions (see below) are filed to the report and recommendation, and if the judge accepts it, they will pass a final Order of Court in accord with what the magistrate has recommended.

If one of the parties to the action is not satisfied with the magistrate’s report and recommendation, they are permitted to file exceptions to the same within 10 days from the date of the report and recommendation. A trial court would then review the exceptions.

Can I bring my cell phone into the courthouse?

Yes, however, it must be silenced while you are in a courtroom. If the phone should ring in court, or if the vibration is strong enough to be heard, your phone will be confiscated by the court. It is likely that your phone will not be returned to you until the end of the day.

Taking photographs within the courthouse is prohibited.

It is always possible that the rules regarding cell phones and other electronic devices may change or vary depending on the county. You should confirm the court’s rules prior to your appearance.