Click on any of the Section Titles or scroll through the entire plan

Statement of Purpose
1.  General Information
2. Scheduling Conferences
3. Alternative Dispute Resolution Programs
4. Pre-Trial Conferences
5. Merits Hearings
6. Continuances
7. Pendente Lite Relief
8. Emergency Relief
9. Chambers and Motions Practice
10. Discovery
11. Sanctions

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Statement of Purpose

From the commencement of litigation to its resolution, whether by trial or settlement, any elapsed time other than reasonably required for pleadings, discovery, and court events, is unacceptable and should be eliminated. To enable just and efficient resolution of cases, the court, not the lawyers or litigants, should control the pace of litigation. A strong judicial commitment is essential to reducing delay and once achieved, maintaining a current docket. Standard 250, ABA Standards Relating to Court Delay Reduction.

It is the purpose of this Case Management Plan to provide an effective case management system which will assure:

1. equal treatment of all litigants by the court;
2. timely disposition consistent with the circumstances of the individual case;
3. enhancement of the quality of the litigation process; and
4. public confidence in the court as an institution.

The goal of the plan is to ensure that 90% of all Domestic Relations Cases (including Child Access cases) should be concluded by disposition, dismissal or judgment within 12 months of service upon the first party or first Answer, whichever comes first. The goal of the plan is also to ensure that within 24 months of service upon the first party or first Answer to have 98% of the Domestic Relations Cases concluded by disposition, dismissal or judgment.

1. General Information

1.1 Family Law Cases

The Family Law Differentiated Case Management Plan (hereinafter DCM Plan) outlines policies and procedures for the management of family law cases at the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. This includes the following types of cases:

∙ alimony
∙ annulment
∙ divorce
∙ custody
∙ guardianship over person only
∙ visitation
∙ private paternity
∙ child support
∙ cases arising from marital settlement agreements
∙ post-judgment modification of custody/visitation
∙ post-judgment modification of alimony
∙ post-judgment modification of child support

Other Family Law Matters.

Other family law cases including contested adoptions, guardianships, terminations of parental rights, etc., may be set in for a scheduling conference or for other procedures as described in this manual, at the discretion of the Court, if those procedures are appropriate to facilitate an efficient resolution of the case.

Domestic Violence Cases.

Domestic violence cases originally before the Circuit Court are scheduled in accordance with Md. Ann. Code, Fam. Law § 4-501et seq. Appeals from rulings of the District Court in domestic violence matters are scheduled in accordance with Md. Ann. Code, Fam. Law § 4-507.

Juvenile Matters.

Juvenile matters follow the procedures dictated by the Maryland Code and Maryland Rules. In delinquency matters, adjudicatory hearings are scheduled by the State's Attorney's Office. Other juvenile matters are scheduled by the Court in coordination with the various agencies involved.

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1.2 Judicial Assignments to the Family Law Division

The Administrative Judge of the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County will designate judges, masters and special masters to serve in the Family Division, as well as to serve as scheduling officers, DCM Judge and Chambers Judge, so that family law cases are heard expeditiously.

1.2.1 Special Assignment

Motions for special assignment must be made in writing and are reviewed by the Family Law Administrator and forwarded to the Administrative Judge for a ruling.

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1.3 Family Law Case Management Personnel

The policies and procedures outlined in this plan are implemented by the following personnel of the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County:

Family Law Administrator. The Family Law Administrator is responsible for the overall monitoring and implementation of the DCM Plan. The Administrator reports to the Director of Court Operations and supervises the Family Law Case Administrator, the Family Law Case Coordinator, the Custody Evaluation Unit and all other Family Law Division programs. The Administrator is responsible for preparing state and county budget requests, and tracks and administers all budgets. The Administrator prepares Quarterly Expenditure Reports on the State grant for submission to the Administrative Office of the Courts, as well as an annual report to the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals on family support services, as required by Md. Rule 16-204(a)(4)(D). The Administrator is responsible for all family law initiatives and family support services

Family Law Case Administrator. The Family Law Case Administrator assists the Family Law Administrator in the development and administration of all case management procedures, alternative dispute resolution programs and Family Law Division services. The Family Law Case Administrator screens all family law cases for which emergency relief has been requested, and reviews some chambers matters.

Family Support Services Coordinator. The Family Support Services Coordinator monitors referrals for family support services and/or treatment. These include substance abuse, paternity testing, mental health evaluations and treatment, housing, financial assistance, childcare assistance or other special needs. He or she assists in developing new family support services and programs and serves as a resource for all Family Law Division staff, masters and judges in this area.

Family Law Case Coordinator. The Family Law Case Coordinator is responsible for reviewing all contested pleadings and setting cases in for a Scheduling Conference. All cases covered by the DCM Plan are referred to the Coordinator as soon as they are at issue, i.e., once responsive pleadings are filed. The Coordinator manages the Facilitator Program and coordinates with the Deputy Family Law Administrator on all Family Law Division alternative dispute resolution programs. When reviewing initial pleadings, the Coordinator researches related cases and provides information on these to the Court.

Other offices and individuals at the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County are also involved in the implementation of this DCM Plan. These include:

Assignment Office. The Assignment Office schedules all proceedings before a judge or master of the Circuit Court, except for Juvenile and DRD dockets. These include: Scheduling Conferences, Pre-trial Conferences, Pendente Lite Hearings, Emergency Hearings, Motions Hearings and Merits Hearings.

Masters. Scheduling Conferences, Pendente Lite Hearings, Pre-trial Conferences, Motions Hearings and Emergency Hearings may be set in before a master. Proceedings before a master are always subject to the provisions in the Maryland Rules governing the use of masters (Rule 2-541). Masters handle Juvenile proceedings as assigned, dictated by the Maryland Code and Maryland Rules.

Masters/Examiners. Masters/Examiners are appointed by the Court pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-542. Cases referred to Masters/Examiners include issues in uncontested proceedings not triable of right before a jury and proceedings held in aid of execution of judgment.

Domestic Relations Masters. Masters who are hired under the Division of Domestic Relations' Federal Reimbursement Agreement will hear all child support cases, paternities, and contempt proceedings in which a DRD attorney has entered their appearance. Cases which will clearly result in payment through DRD may be heard by the Domestic Relations Masters as well, including any ancillary (non-child support) issues.

Administrative Judge. The Administrative Judge supervises all aspects of family law case management, is ultimately responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Family Law DCM Plan and reviews and rules on all Motions for Waiver of Prepayment of Costs. The Administrative Judge designates certain judges and masters to serve in the Family Division.

Family Law DCM Judge. The Family Law DCM Judge monitors the implementation of the DCM Plan. The DCM Judge signs all scheduling orders, orders for alternative dispute resolution and any other preliminary orders resulting from a scheduling conference when held before a Master. The DCM Judge reviews all contested family law matters and also rules on all Motions for Pendente Lite Relief and Requests for Hearings. The DCM Judge also reviews all petitions for guardianship of an alleged disabled adult as well as contested adoption cases. Motions for Continuances and requests to appear at a hearing telephonically shall be the responsibility of the DCM Judge or designee.

Other Judges. The Administrative Judge shall designate certain judges and masters to serve in the Family Law Division. All judges and masters, whether or not they are designated to serve in the Family Law Division, may be called upon to hear family law matters, in order to ensure that these matters are heard expeditiously.

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1.4 Pleadings

1.4.1.1 Domestic Case Information Report (DCIR)

Pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-111, a Domestic Case Information Report (DCIR) (See Appendix A) shall be filed with all original pleadings in the case, and a copy shall be served on the defendant/respondent. The DCIR shall be filed in all cases subject to the DCM Plan. When any new or additional relief is sought subsequent to the filing of the original complaint or petition, a DCIR shall be filed with the pleading or paper seeking the relief. If the DCIR is not filed with the complaint, one of two procedures will be followed by the Office of the Clerk:

1. If the complaint is received across the counter from an attorney or party, the clerk shall provide a blank DCIR form to be completed immediately.

2. If the complaint is received by mail or across the counter from someone other than an attorney or party, the clerk shall mail a blank DCIR with the receipt for the complaint. This mailing shall include a clear explanation that the DCIR must be filed. (See Appendix B.)

1.4.1.1 Responsive Pleadings

A DCIR should be filed with the responsive pleadings. If no DCIR is filed by the opposing attorney or party, agreement with the plaintiff's DCIR shall be presumed, pursuant to Md. Rule 2-323(h).

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1.5 Setting of Scheduling Conference

Upon the filing of a return of service or responsive pleading, the case file is forwarded by the Office of the Clerk to the Family Law Case Coordinator. The Trust & Adoption Department of the Office of the Clerk will ensure that contested adoptions and guardianship cases are likewise forwarded to the Family Law Case Coordinator. The Case Coordinator will schedule the case for a 15 minute Scheduling Conference within 30 days of when the case is at issue, and notify counsel/parties (See Appendix C.)

Cases involving only modification of child support and/or alimony shall proceed directly to a modification of support hearing without the necessity of a Scheduling Conference unless otherwise requested and ordered by the DCM Judge or designee; however, a Scheduling Order shall be issued.

Cases involving a Complaint for Custody with accompanying Consents shall proceed directly to a 15 minute Consent to Custody Hearing before a Judge or Master without the necessity of a Scheduling Conference.

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2. Scheduling Conferences

2.1 The Scheduling Conference

Scheduling Conferences are held before a judge or master. [For simplicity's sake, subsequent descriptions will refer to a "Master" only]. Scheduling Conferences are set at 15-minute intervals, two days per week. Both parties will be required to be present with counsel unless otherwise excused by the Court. The Assignment Office shall reset the first scheduling conference without the necessity of a postponement request, but the Conference shall occur within 30 days of the date of the original Scheduling Conference unless a party objects in writing. In some instances, the Court may permit participation by telephone where attendance would present a significant hardship. The person participating by telephone will be recorded in open court, along with those participating in the rest of the proceeding.

At the Scheduling Conference, the Master will attempt to assist the parties in reaching an agreement on all contested matters. If an agreement can be reached, the Master will place the agreement on the record and an Order will be prepared reflecting the agreement. If it is a divorce matter and the necessary witnesses are present, brief testimony may be taken on the grounds for divorce and a report and recommendation issued.

If it is clear that there remain contested issues, the Master will identify those issues and complete a Scheduling Order (see Paragraph 2.3 and Appendix D) setting in discovery and filing deadlines and scheduling a Pre-trial Conference.

The Master will also identify and recommend any preliminary orders required in the matter. Preliminary orders include the following:

∙ order to attend parenting seminar
∙ order for custody/visitation mediation
∙ order for property alternative dispute resolution
∙ other alternative dispute resolution orders
∙ orders appointing counsel for a minor child or party
∙ order for custody evaluation unit investigation
∙ order for psychological evaluation(s)
∙ order for pendente lite hearing
∙ order for substance abuse assessment
∙ order for monitored transfer and/or supervised visitation
∙ order for referral to Domestic Relations Division
∙ any other investigations or orders the Master feels may be necessary to expedite the case

In most cases, no merits hearing will be scheduled at this time. Rather, the case will be managed to facilitate settlement prior to or at the time of the Pre-trial Conference. A Merits Hearing will be scheduled only if and when the Pre-trial Conference fails to resolve all pending issues in the case and all discovery, investigations, reports and joint statements of marital property have been completed. The purpose of this policy is to schedule a merits hearing for only those cases which are ready for trial. The Court is attempting to facilitate settlement as early on in the case as possible to spare the parties unnecessary expense and delay. By setting a date for the Merits Hearing later on in the case, the Court can more accurately predict the number of cases to be heard, can schedule the appropriate number of judges, and parties and counsel can be assured that their case will proceed to trial on the scheduled day.

2.1.1 Discovery Deadlines

During the Scheduling Conference, the Master will set discovery deadlines and schedule subsequent event dates accordingly. By Order for Scheduling Conference and by oral suggestion of the Judge or Master, Counsel shall be encouraged

- to confer before the conference as to discovery & possible settlement,
- to stipulate as to schedule and other arrangements for discovery, and
- to initiate discovery promptly so as to complete it - including filing of any discovery motions - prior to the date of the pre-trial/settlement conference.

Priority of Scheduling Conference docket may be granted to cases in which there are substantial agreements as to discovery schedules and other stipulations.

Discovery schedules shall not exceed four (4) months in standard family law cases, except in unusual circumstances or by agreement approved by the Court. The dates set shall be firm dates and shall not be modified except by Order of the DCM Judge. 2.2.4.

2.1.2 Motions

In order to make the Pretrial Conference a meaningful event, all motions –including discovery motions– must be filed and resolved prior to the Pretrial Conference. The master or judge at the Scheduling Conference shall establish deadlines for the filing of motions including discovery motions.

2.1.3 Evidence Requiring Advance Notice

The Scheduling Order shall also provide a deadline for the notice required by any party who intends to use video depositions per Rule 2-416, computer generated evidence per Maryland Rule 2-504.3, or summary exhibits per Rule 5-1006.

2.1.4 Bifurcated Custody Proceedings

The Court will not automatically bifurcate custody cases. If, however, it would be appropriate and would facilitate settlement of the case, the attorneys may request or the Master may elect to bifurcate custody issues. In such an instance, the Master may issue a second Scheduling Order setting in separate discovery deadlines, a Pre-trial Conference and merits hearing on the custody issues only, to be concluded before the merits hearing in the divorce trial.

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2.2 The Facilitator Program

The Court maintains a panel of volunteer attorneys who serve as facilitators on the day of the Scheduling Conference. Facilitators meet with the parties and/or counsel at the request of the Master conducting the Scheduling Conference. Facilitators assist the parties in reaching settlement of any or all issues. There is no charge to the parties. Facilitators have no on-going involvement in the case. The Court or counsel will prepare any consent orders resulting from a facilitated settlement. Pursuant to Title 17 of the Maryland Rules, facilitators shall not be entitled to any fee for services.

2.2.1 Facilitator Qualifications

To serve as a facilitator, individuals must be approved by the Administrative Judge and meet the criteria established in Md. Rule 17-105. They must:

1. Abide by any standards adopted by the Court of Appeals;

2. Submit to periodic monitoring of the facilitation by a qualified person designated by the Administrative Judge;

3. Comply with the procedures outlined in this DCM Plan;

4. Either (1) Be a member in good standing of the Maryland Bar and have at least five years experience in the active practice of law as (i) a Judge, (ii) a practitioner, (iii) a full-time teacher of law at a law school accredited by the American Bar Association, or (iv) a Federal or Maryland administrative law judge, or (2) have equivalent or specialized knowledge and experience in dealing with the issues in dispute; and

5. Unless waived by the court, have completed a training program that consists of at least eight hours and has been approved by the County Administrative Judge.

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2.3 The Scheduling Order

A single, uniform Scheduling Order shall be used for most family law cases. (See Appendix D for a sample Scheduling Order.)

2.4 Other Preliminary Orders

At the Scheduling Conference, the Master will also discuss with counsel or the parties whether other preliminary orders might be appropriate in the case. Counsel are requested to file any such preliminary motions, e.g., motions for child counsel, for a custody evaluation, for psychological evaluations, etc., prior to the Scheduling Conference so that these issues can be discussed intelligently by both sides. However, the Master may prepare an appropriate Order even in the absence of such a request.If one party requests a preliminary order and the other party objects, the Master will hear brief argument on the issue and prepare an appropriate Order.

2.4.1 Parenting Seminars

In divorce actions or other actions between two parents where custody or visitation is at issue, the Master will prepare an Order for the parties to attend a 6-hour Parenting Seminar. (See Appendix I.) This Seminar consists of two (2) three-hour sessions and is taught by a custody evaluator from the Custody Evaluation Unit. Parties will be ordered to attend and complete the Parenting Seminar prior to any scheduled mediation in the case.In the event that the Master does not require the parties to attend the Parenting Seminar, the Master will indicate on the Scheduling Order the reason(s).

2.4.2 ADR Programs

After determining what issues are contested in each case, the Master will determine whether and if participation in one of the alternative dispute resolution programs should be ordered and prepare the appropriate Order.

2.4.2.1 Custody/Visitation Mediation

Parties involved in custody matters where there are no allegations of physical or sexual abuse of the party or child will be ordered to attend mediation. (See Appendix H.) If a fully executed comprehensive agreement or consent order is filed with the Court within 15 days after the date of the Scheduling Conference, the Court will vacate the Order for Custody and Visitation Mediation.

The Master will indicate on the Scheduling Order if there is a history of allegations of physical or sexual abuse of a party or child which precludes participation in mediation. In the event that the Master directs that the parties participate in custody/visitation mediation despite a history of allegations of physical or sexual abuse of the party or child, the Master will indicate on the Scheduling Order the reason(s) why the matter is appropriate for mediation. The Master also will indicate on the Order for Custody and Visitation Mediation that allegations of abuse exist.

The goal in scheduling mediation will be to ensure that the parties attend the Parenting Seminar and both mediation sessions within 30 days after the Scheduling Conference. (See Paragraph 3.1 below for additional information on the Custody/Visitation Mediation Program.)

In the event that the Master does not require the parties to participate in custody/visitation mediation, the Master will indicate on the Scheduling Order the reason(s).

At the time mediation is ordered, the parties will be given a copy of the Scheduling Order, the mediation order, and several additional documents:

- The Personal Information Form must be completed by each party and brought to the first session with the mediator. (See Appendix F.)

- The Information Letter provides parents with some general information about the custody/visitation mediation process. (See Appendix G.)

When mediation is ordered, the Court will mail a copy of the Scheduling Order and Order for Mediation to the court-appointed mediator.

2.4.2.2 Property ADR

Cases involving contested property issues may be referred to a court-appointed mediator upon agreement of the parties as part of the Court's Property ADR Program. (See Appendix J.) Parties will be ordered to meet with the mediator for a minimum of 2 hours, the costs to be divided between the parties. Parties will set up their own appointments with the Property ADR mediator, but will be ordered to complete the mediation before the scheduled Pre-trial Conference. Refer to Paragraph 3.2 below.

2.4.3 Appointment of Counsel for Minor Children

The Master may also appoint counsel for a minor child at the time of the Scheduling Conference. Parties should be prepared to advise the Court as to whether this will be necessary and why. (See Appendix K for a sample order appointing counsel.)

2.4.4 Appointment of Counsel for Parents (Minors)

The Scheduling Conference will also provide the Master an opportunity to determine whether a pro se party to a domestic law case, i.e. a parent, is a minor in need of the assistance of counsel. The Court should appoint counsel for parents who are minors, if unrepresented.

2.4.5 Custody Unit Evaluations

The Master will prepare an Order for investigation by the Custody Evaluation Unit, if appropriate, at the time of the Scheduling Conference. (See Appendix L for a sample Order for Custody Evaluation.) Orders for Custody Evaluations shall be limited in scope, if appropriate.

2.4.6 Drug Testing/Screening

The Master may prepare an Order for drug testing of either the parties or a minor child at the time of the Scheduling Conference. Cases requiring a drug screening will be referred to the Substance Abuse Assessor housed at the Courthouse to provide an immediate urine sample and/or schedule an in-depth assessment. (See Appendix M for a sample Order for Substance Abuse Assessment.)

2.4.7 Psychological Evaluations

At the Scheduling Conference, the Master may prepare an Order for a Psychological Evaluation to be conducted of either the parties and/or a minor child in the case. The Master will have available a list of appropriate psychiatrists / psychologists who can conduct such evaluations, or the Master may prepare an Order for the examination to be done by a professional requested by one or both of the parties. (See Appendix N for a sample Order for Psychological Evaluation.)

2.4.8 Paternity Testing

If the issue of paternity is raised in either the pleadings, or at the time of the Scheduling Conference, the Master will prepare an Order directing the parties to participate in and cooperate with paternity testing. The Master shall have available a list of paternity testing facilities. The name of the facility shall be included in the Order for Paternity Testing. The Master will direct the parties to return for a Pendente Lite Hearing on the issue of paternity; this hearing shall be set in at a date sufficiently late to ensure that the paternity testing results will be available by that time. (See Appendices O and P for a sample Order for Paternity Testing and a list of paternity testing facilities approved by the State of Maryland.)

2.4.9 Pendente Lite Hearing

If the parties are unable to reach an agreement at the time of the Scheduling Conference on pendente lite issues, the Court may schedule a Pendente Lite Hearing and issue an order to that effect. That order may be included as a part of the Scheduling Order and a separate order need not be issued.

The Master conducting the Scheduling Conference shall adhere to the time limits for Pendente Lite Hearing established in Section 7 of the DCM Plan.

2.4.10 Referral to Domestic Relations Division

If child support is at issue, or is eventually going to be ordered at the time of the Scheduling Conference, the Master will ask counsel whether collection of support will be through the Division of Domestic Relations. If the parties agree or if it is clear that will be the outcome, the Master may refer the case to a Domestic Relations Master for all subsequent hearings by checking the appropriate box on the Scheduling Order, thereby notifying the Assignment Office that all proceedings are to be before one of the Domestic Relations Masters.

2.4.11 Other Orders

At the time of the Scheduling Conference, the Master may prepare any other preliminary orders necessary to expedite the case or facilitate an eventual settlement.

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3. Alternative Dispute Resolution Programs

3.1 Custody/Visitation Mediation Program

Parties will be required to participate in the Custody/Visitation Mediation Program in all cases involving custody and/or visitation issues where no abuse (of either a party or child) is alleged. Participation in the program requires:

- Attendance at two (2) separate 2-hour sessions with a private mediator appointed by the Court.
- Payment of a $300.00 fee (per party) at the time of the initial session with the mediator.

The actual dates of mediation will not be ordered at the Scheduling Conference. Parties will instead be ordered to contact the mediator directly to schedule those sessions. Failure to attend either mediation session will result in sanctions by the Court.

3.1.1 Mediation

3.1.1.1 Scope of Mediation

Both parties are required to attend two separate two-hour sessions with the court-appointed mediator. The mediator will attempt to facilitate an agreement between the parties. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the mediator may request that the Court extend the mediation order to include more sessions pursuant to Md. Rule 9-205(c). The parties may also voluntarily continue with further mediation at their mutual election. Any additional costs of mediation will be shared between the parties.

Pursuant to Md. Rule 9-205(c)(2), the parties may extend the scope of mediation beyond the issues of custody and visitation, only if both they and their attorneys agree to do so in writing. The mediator shall submit a consent form to that effect with the signatures of both parties and their counsel at the time a completed written agreement is forwarded to the Court. (See Appendix R for a sample Consent to Extend Scope of Mediation.)

3.1.1.2 Mediated Agreements

When the parties have been able to reach an agreement on some or all issues, the mediator prepares a written draft of the agreement and submits it to the parties and their attorneys. If the agreement is approved as written or modified, the mediator submits it to the Court for approval and entry as an Order. Parenting Plans or agreements are mailed to the Family Law Case Coordinator who prepares an appropriate Order incorporating the agreement. (See Appendix R. Along with the Parenting Plan, the mediator mails to the Family Law Case Coordinator a completed Mediation Disposition Form.) (See Appendix S.) If no agreement is reached, the Mediation Disposition Form is submitted within 10 business days of the final mediation session. Mediators are expected to forward the final, signed copy of the Parenting Plan to the Family Law Case Coordinator within 10 business days after the last mediation session.

3.1.1.3 Costs

Fees for court-certified mediators are set by the County Administrative Judge. Mediators may not accept a fee in excess of the set fee. Violation is cause for removal as a mediator. The fee for mediation is $150.00 per hour. The full cost of two (2) two-hour sessions is therefore $600.00. Those costs are split by the parties. Each party must bring $300.00 in full to the first mediation session.

If a party is receiving pro bono legal representation through an approved pro bono program, the fee for mediation is waived and the mediator delivers service pro bono.

If a party is pro se, the fee for mediation may be waived if a Motion for Waiver of Mediation Fee and related documents are filed. (See Appendix T.) Information and forms for the waiver are provided by the Family Law Case Coordinator. When a Motion for Waiver of Mediation Fee is received it will be forwarded to the Administrative Judge for consideration. If an Order Waiving Mediation Fee is entered, the mediator's fee will be paid by the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, Family Law Division. The mediator submits a bill to the Family Law Administrator for payment of the waived fee.

3.1.1.4 Mediator Certification

Court-certified mediators must meet the criteria approved by the County Administrative Judge in accordance with Md. Rule 17-104. Mediators, other than by agreement of the parties, must:

1. Unless waived by the court, be at least 21 years old; unless waived by the court for good cause in connection with a particular action, have at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university;

2. Have completed at least forty (40) hours of mediation training meeting the requirements of Md. Rule 17-106;

3. Complete in every two year period eight hours of continuing mediation-related education in a program meeting the requirement of Rule 17-106;

4. Abide by any standards adopted by the Court of Appeals;

5. Submit to periodic monitoring of court-ordered mediations by a qualified mediator designated by the county Administrative Judge;

6. Comply with procedures and requirements proscribed in the court's case management plan filed under Rule 16-202(b) relating to diligence, quality assurance, and a willingness to accept a reasonable number of referrals on a reduced-fee or pro bono basis upon request by the court;

7. Have completed at least twenty (20) hours of training in a family mediation training program meeting the requirements of Md. Rule 17-106;

8. Have observed or co-mediated at least eight hours of child access mediation sessions conducted by persons approved County Administrative Judge, in addition to any observations during the training program.

A list of court-certified mediators is maintained by the Family Law Case Coordinator.

3.1.5 Failure to Attend Mediation

If a party fails to attend any session of custody/visitation mediation, the Court will issue a show cause order requiring that party to attend a prompt show cause hearing. At the conclusion of the show cause hearing, the Court may impose monetary sanctions, dismissal of action, enter judgment of default or any other appropriate sanction.All show cause hearings for failure to attend mediation shall be set before the DCM Judge or designee.

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3.2 Property ADR Program

Parties whose cases involve contested property issues may be ordered to participate in the Property ADR Program. Participation in the program requires:

- Attendance at one (1) 2-hour session with a private mediator skilled in the resolution of property issues.

- Payment of a $150.00 fee (per party) at the time of the session with the mediator.

Parties will schedule their own appointment with the Property ADR mediator, but will be ordered to complete mediation of all property issues by the time of the Pre-trial Conference or another time specified in the Scheduling Order. Both the parties and their counsel may be required to attend the property mediation session at the discretion of the mediator (unlike the Custody/Visitation Mediation Program where counsel does not attend).

Parties will be required to complete and submit a copy of their Joint Marital and Non-Marital Property Statement pursuant to Md. Rule 9-207 to the Property ADR mediator before the mediation session, as well as copies of their individual financial statements and corroborating financial information.

3.2.1 Objections to Property ADR

The Order referring the case to Property ADR shall specify that the parties have thirty (30) days within which to: i) object to the referral; ii) offer an alternative proposal; and iii) agree on a person to conduct the proceeding. (See Appendix J for a sample Order.) If the parties wish to object, they must file a written request stating their objection.

If one or more party files a timely objection to the referral, the Court shall attempt to identify a property mediator mutually agreeable to the parties. If one or more party objects to participation in the alternative dispute resolution process, the Court shall vacate the Order pursuant to Maryland Rule 17-103(c)(3). A party who fails to object within thirty (30) days shall be bound by the Order referring the case to property mediation.

3.2.2 Property Agreements

When the parties have been able to reach an agreement on some or all issues, counsel will prepare a written draft of the agreement for signature. In the alternative, the agreement may be incorporated into a Consent Order resolving all outstanding issues in the case and presented to the Court at or before the Pre-trial Conference. The mediator will submit a Property ADR Disposition Form to the Family Law Case Coordinator within 10 business days of the mediation session.

3.2.3 Costs

Fees for Property ADR mediators are set by the County Administrative Judge. Mediators may not accept a fee in excess of the set fee. Violation is cause for removal as a mediator. The fee for mediation is $150.00 per hour. The full cost of the two-hour session is therefore $300.00. These costs are split by the parties. Each party must bring $150.00 in full to the first mediation session.

If a party is receiving pro bono legal representation, the fee for mediation is waived and the mediator delivers service pro bono.

If a party is pro se, the fee for mediation may be waived if a Motion for Waiver of Mediation Fee and related documents are filed. (See Appendix T.) Information and forms for the waiver are provided by the Family Law Case Coordinator. When a Motion for Waiver of Mediation Fee is received it will be forwarded to the Administrative Judge for consideration. If an Order Waiving Mediation Fee is entered, the mediator's fee will be paid out of the Family Law Division budget. The mediator submits a bill to the Family Law Administrator for payment of the waived fee.

3.2.4 Property ADR Mediator Qualifications

Court-appointed mediators participating in the Property ADR Program must meet the following criteria which have been established by the Administrative Judge in accordance with Md. Rule 17-104:

1. Unless waived by the court, be at least 21 years old; unless waived by the court for good cause in connection with a particular action, have at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university;

2 Have completed at least forty (40) hours of mediation training meeting the requirements of Md. Rule 17-106;

3. Complete in every two year period eight hours of continuing mediation-related education in a program meeting the requirement of Rule 17-106;

4. Abide by any standards adopted by the Court of Appeals;

5. Submit to periodic monitoring of court-ordered mediations by a qualified mediator designated by the County Administrative Judge;

6. Comply with procedures and requirements proscribed in the court's case management plan filed under Rule 16-202(b) relating to diligence, quality assurance, and a willingness to accept a reasonable number of referrals on a reduced-fee or pro bono basis upon request by the court;

7. Have completed at least twenty (20) hours of skill-based training in mediation of marital property issues; and

8. Have observed or co-mediated at least eight hours of divorce mediation sessions involving marital property issues conducted by persons approved County Administrative Judge, in addition to any observations during the training program.

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4. Pre-trial Conferences

A Pre-trial Conference will be scheduled for all matters at the time of the initial Scheduling Conference. All parties and counsel are required to attend the Pre-trial Conference. Failure to attend may result in sanctions by the Court. All discovery must be completed well in advance of this date. Pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-432(d), a motion for an order compelling discovery or for sanctions shall be filed with reasonable promptness and may be ruled upon at the Pre-trial Conference. No merits date shall be scheduled until all discovery is complete, any needed financial statements have been filed and the case is ready for trial.At or before the Pre-trial Conference the parties MUST:

∙ Exchange witness lists and lists of exhibits to be introduced at trial.

∙ Complete and submit a Joint Marital and Non-Marital Property Statement pursuant to Md. Rule 9-207, if required by the Rule.

∙ Complete a Financial Statement pursuant to Md. Rule 9-203 if not yet filed.

∙ Exchange income information and documents verifying that income.

∙ Prepare a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet, if child support is at issue.

4.1 Pre-trial Conference Procedure

The settlement officer will meet with counsel and/or the parties in an attempt to facilitate a settlement in the case. All parties and their counsel must be prepared to discuss all aspects of their case in anticipation of a possible settlement.

4.1.1 Agreement Reached

If an agreement is reached by the parties, the following procedures will be followed:

1. Place Agreement on the Record / Take Testimony. If an agreement is reached on some or all issues before the Court, that agreement will be placed on the record. If the Pre-trial Conference is being held before a sitting judge or master, that person may place the agreement on the record. Counsel shall prepare an Order reflecting the agreement placed on the record and shall submit it to the Court within 15 days of the Pre-Trial conference. If the litigants are pro se, then the court shall prepare an Order reflecting the agreement placed on the record.

If the matter is before the Court for a limited or absolute divorce, where testimony is required, the Court may take testimony on the ultimate issue, provided the appropriate witness or witnesses are present.

If the Pre-trial Conference is held before a Master/Examiner, the Master/Examiner may likewise place agreements on the record or take divorce testimony provided appropriate witnesses are present.

2. Files Returned to Assignment. At the conclusion of the case, the court file, including any completed and signed Pre-Trial Order shall be forwarded to the Assignment Office.

4.1.2 No Agreement - Ready for Trial

If the parties fail to reach an agreement on any or all of the issues, the following procedure shall be followed:

1. Pre-Trial Order. If substantive decisions are made but the case still needs to proceed to trial, a Pre-Trial Order will be completed by the Court. (See Appendix U.)

2. File to Assignment / Merits Hearing Scheduled. At the conclusion of the case, the court file, including the completed Pre-Trial Order shall be forwarded to the Assignment Office. The parties and counsel shall also consult with the Assignment Office to schedule a Merits Hearing in the matter. A Notice of Hearing shall be issued immediately and copies given to counsel and parties.

4.1.3 No Agreement-Not Ready for Trial

If the parties fail to reach an agreement on any or all of the issues, and the matter is not ready for trial, the Court will prepare a Pre-trial Order establishing the next Pre-trial date and identifying what shall be completed prior to the next Pre-trial Conference.

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5. Merits Hearings

Merits hearings will be scheduled at the time of the Pre-trial Conference, if the parties have been unable to reach agreement on all issues, provided that all discovery, investigations, necessary financial statements and reports have been completed and the case is ready for trial. Counsel and parties must be ready to proceed at the time the case is called. If a Judge hears substantive issues in a Pendente Lite Hearing, that Judge will also hear the merits of the case, as well as any modifications thereof, if available.

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6. Continuances

All motions for continuance must be made pursuant to Md. Rule 2-311 and Md. Rule 2-508. These requests will be considered, in accordance with the provisions of this plan, by the Administrative Judge or his/her designee.

The initial date for the Scheduling Conference, Show Cause hearings and Domestic Violence Protective Orders may be reset by conference call between the parties (counsel) and the Assignment Office, subject to the terms of the notice of assignment. Any request to reset must be filed at least ten days before the event. The reset date must be no later than 30 days from the original set date.

Requests for continuances of all other family matters shall be handled in accordance with Md. Rule 2-311 and Md. Rule 2-508. A strict continuance policy will be followed for these matters since parties and counsel will have had the opportunity to provide input on scheduling at the time of the Scheduling Conference or Pre-trial. Scheduled events, including Pre-trials will not be postponed merely by the consent of the parties or because discovery or ADR has not been completed.

If a continuance is granted, the provisions of the Pre-trial Order shall remain in effect except as may be amended by the terms of the continuance order. Counsel or parties seeking a continuance must secure an agreed upon reset date before the granting of any such request; however, the mere consent of the parties will not be grounds for a continuance. If a continuance is granted, the Court shall determine the future scheduling of the case consistent with the intent and purposes of this Family DCM Plan and in accordance with the policies herein. A new scheduling order may be issued, if appropriate, in the discretion of the Court (Administrative Judge or his/her designee).

If a case has been specially assigned, continuance requests shall be directed to the specially assigned judge. The standards for continuance of the trial date shall remain the same as for cases not specially assigned.

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7. Pendente Lite Relief

Normally, pendente lite hearings should be requested and will be set, if necessary, at the time of the scheduling conference. If a need for a pendente lite hearing arises after the scheduling conference, the party seeking a pendente lite hearing must do so by written motion outlining any substantially new information or developments which necessitate the requested relief. Once the time has passed for a response, which may be shortened in accordance with Md. Rule 1-204 upon request of counsel or a party, the motion will be considered by the DCM Judge or designee and if the request is granted, scheduled by the assignment office as directed by the court.

Pendente lite hearings shall be limited in time. For pendente lite hearings involving custody a two hour time limit shall be imposed. For all other pendente lite hearings a one hour time limit shall be imposed. In no event shall a pendente lite hearing be scheduled for more than two hours, except with the approval of the DCM Judge or designee

7.1 Expedited Relief

There may be situations that do not meet the standard for emergency relief, but warrant expedited judicial intervention. Cases that may warrant expedited pendente lite relief or an expedited scheduling conference include but are not limited to cases where unless timely relief is granted there may be an imminent or ongoing hardship such as

• relocation of a child which unreasonably may deprive a parent and/or child of habitually exercised child access if no order exists
• an unreasonable deprivation of child access
• a significant financial hardship to one party
• an inability to enroll a child in school because of the lack of a custody Order
• an inability to provide medical care because of the lack of a custody Order

In these types of cases, any party or counsel may request an expedited pendente lite hearing by filing the appropriate motion and a motion to shorten time. The latter must be filed in accordance with Md. Rule 1-204 and must include the required written certifications of failure to reach agreement and notice. Although the rule itself does not specify a time requirement for notice, the Court requires that 24 hours advance notice be provided before the motion to shorten time may be granted ex parte. The motion to shorten time shall promptly be presented by the clerk to the designated chambers Judge for ruling. The motion for expedited pendente lite hearing will be ruled on by the DCM Judge or designee. If the DCM Judge or designee finds that expedited judicial intervention is warranted, an expedited pendente lite hearing or expedited scheduling conference will be set by the assignment office as directed by the Court and based upon the circumstances found by the Court. Expedited pendente lite hearings are limited in time to one hour.

If the court finds sufficient allegations and support by affidavit or testimony as to an alleged hardship, it may seek to expedite a scheduling conference, pendente lite hearing, or both. The expedited hearing or scheduling conference, shall be set no later than two weeks from the date of the order directing the setting of the hearing unless other appropriate timing can be arranged which reasonably responds to the parties' concerns.

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8. Emergency Relief

Motions for emergency relief must be filed in writing. With the exception of cases filed under the domestic violence statute, no motions for emergency relief will be granted unless a pleading for permanent relief has been filed at the same time as, or prior to, the emergency motion.

For cases where domestic violence is an issue, this process is a supplement to, and not an alternative to or replacement for, the procedures outlined in the Md. Ann. Code, Fam. Law §§4-501, et seq. regarding domestic violence petitions.

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8.1 Ex Parte Relief

Motions for ex parte or emergency relief must be filed in accordance with Md. Rule 1-351. Although the Rule itself does not specify a time limit, the Court requires that opposing parties be provided 24 hours advance notice of motions for ex parte or emergency relief. The motion must include a written certification that proper notice has been provided.

If a motion for ex parte relief relies upon facts not contained in the record or presented in live testimony, the motion must be "based on a verified affidavit." Magness v. Magness, 79 Md. App. 668, appeal dismissed, 317 Md. 641 (1989). In accordance with Magness and other case law, the affiants must certify their personal knowledge of facts upon which they rely to support their claim for relief.

8.2 Standard for Emergency Relief

Motions for ex parte or emergency relief should be sought sparingly and only in circumstances that require immediate intervention. Emergency relief will be denied unless there is a sufficient showing that there is an imminent risk of substantial and immediate harm or harassment to a party or minor child or that there are circumstances which the Court believes require immediate intervention in accordance with the aforementioned policy.

Motions for the immediate payment of child support and/or alimony or for visitation do not meet the standard for emergency relief.

Purely speculative evidence of harm will not be considered sufficient for emergency relief. See Magness, 79 Md. App. 668.

8.2.1 Ex Parte Emergency Procedure

Requests for ex parte and emergency relief shall be filed with the civil clerk's office and all parties shall comply with the provisions of Md. Rule 1-351. It is strongly encouraged that all such filings be presented to the Civil Clerk's Office no later than 12:30 p.m. on the day of the emergency hearing. These requests ordinarily will be heard by the Court on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 1:30 p.m. The hearings will occur in the designated Master's hearing room where testimony may be taken before a decision is rendered. The civil clerk's office shall be responsible for delivering the Court file and pleadings to the designated Master.

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8.3 Other Expedited Relief

There may be situations which do not meet the standard outlined above for emergency relief, but yet warrant judicial intervention. Cases which may warrant expedited relief include cases where there is:

- unreasonable deprivation of visitation for an extended period
- financial hardship to one party
- inability to enroll a child in school because of a lack of a custody order
- inability to provide medical care because of a lack of a custody order

In these types of cases, counsel should request a Pendente Lite Hearing. (See Paragraph 7 above.)

If the matter is urgent enough that a normally scheduled Pendente Lite Hearing would result in harm to the parties or minor child, counsel may file a Motion for Expedited Pendente Lite Relief and Request for Hearing along with a Motion to Shorten Time. The latter must be filed pursuant to Md. Rule 1-204(b) and must include the required written certifications of failure to reach agreement and notice. Although the rule itself does not specify a time requirement for notice, the Court will require that 24-hours advance notice be provided before the Motion to Shorten Time can be granted ex parte. The two motions will be ruled on by the DCM Judge. If the judge finds that judicial intervention is warranted, an expedited pendente lite hearing will be scheduled in approximately 2 weeks. Expedited Pendente Lite Hearings are limited to one (1) hour.

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9. Chambers and Motions Practice

9.1 Motions to be Reviewed by the Deputy Family Law Case Administrator

The following motions will be forwarded to the Deputy Family Law Administrator for review once they are at issue or the time period for the filing of a response has passed:

- Motion for Emergency or Ex Parte Relief
- Motion for Pendente Lite Relief
- Motion for Expedited Pendente Lite Relief

The Family Law Case Administrator will review these motions and prepare a written recommendation which shall be forwarded to the DCM Judge or backup for consideration. Walk-in requests for these types of relief will be forwarded to the Family Law Case Administrator.

9.2 Motions for Investigations and Evaluations

Motions for Psychological Evaluations, Custody Evaluations or other preliminary orders filed after the Scheduling Conference will be denied unless there is substantially new information or developments which have necessitated the requested relief.

9.3 Show Cause Orders

Show Cause Orders will be signed only when accompanied by a verified Petition for Contempt. Show Cause Orders will be denied if filed with an initial Complaint or Motion for Modification.

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10. Discovery

The Court will actively manage discovery to reduce discovery problems, to increase efficiency and uniformity in resolving such problems.

Discovery Management by the Court may include:

A) Appropriate language from Rule 2-504.1 in Orders for Scheduling Conferences;

B) Reminders by Master or Judge at Scheduling Conference as to prompt commencement of discovery;

C) Scheduling Conference Continuance, if needed, with warning or actual sanctions per Rule 2-508(E);

D) Encouragement of parties' stipulation to accept email or faxes for discovery and "good faith" communications in lieu of mailing to the extent possible;

E) Email or other reminders from the Court to Counsel or Parties as to Scheduling Order & discovery obligations; and

F) Informal or phone conferences by chambers Judges as to discovery disputes before issuing orders or setting discovery sanction hearings.

10.1 Discovery Schedule

The court will set a "standard" period for discovery after a Scheduling Conference for different types of cases, e.g., 4 months for a standard family law case and 6 months for a standard civil case.

These standard periods may be extended or shortened A) if parties reach an agreed discovery schedule which is approved by the Court, or B) if unusually simple or complex cases merit different periods.

(Standard check box options to be added to Scheduling Order forms; Computer to be programmed automatically to insert standard dates in form.)

Once a discovery schedule has been established in a Scheduling Order, an extension of time may be approved only by the DCM Judge if the extension requires a postponement of the Pretrial/Settlement Conference date.

10.2 Discovery Conferences

To encourage prompt resolution of discovery disputes, the Court shall facilitate telephone conferences and other good faith efforts to resolve discovery disputes at the earliest possible times, as well as providing written confirmation of such efforts and resulting stipulations in court file memoranda or orders.

10.3. Discovery Motions

Discovery motions and responses generally must comply with Rule 2-432 format, as applicable, with a good faith certificate and proposed order attached.

Discovery motions generally shall be forwarded promptly to the chambers Judge for consideration, consistent with Section 7.1 and 7.2 of this DCM Plan. (For discovery sanctions motions, see sec. 10.5.)

10.4 Discovery Hearings

A) The Court ordinarily will not grant a hearing as to any motion to compel discovery. If a Motion to Compel is granted, the time for compliance will not exceed 18 days. If compliance is not received, the discovering party must seek further relief promptly per Maryland Rule 2-433 or the Court may find that further relief has been waived.

B) The Court shall promptly set discovery sanctions hearings [BEFORE THE DISCOVERY SANCTIONS JUDGE UPON PROPER REQUEST], if agreements and Orders to Compel do not resolve disputes. The Court shall seek to resolve discovery disputes within a reasonable time before a pending Pretrial Conference.

C) If only a financial sanction remains for consideration, the Court may defer this until the next scheduled court event or merits hearing, absent indication of financial hardship to the discovering party.

10.5 Discovery Sanctions

A) Designated discovery sanctions judge.

1. Discovery Sanctions Judge: The Administrative Judge's designee to determine the entry of sanctions for discovery noncompliance. The Discovery Sanctions Judge shall have limited DCM authority to modify scheduling orders and continue hearings as necessary for discovery compliance purposes.

B) Sanctions motions, show cause orders, conferences and hearings.

1. Clerk's office and chambers files.

If a discovery motion requests sanctions, the file shall be sent to the Discovery Sanctions Judge. Only the Discovery Sanctions Judge may enter sanctions from motions received in chambers, unless the case is specially assigned.

2. Settlement/Pre-trial Conferences and show cause orders.

If it appears that the parties may have disregarded the Scheduling Order obligations, at Settlement/Pre-trial Conferences, the Court upon motion or sua sponte may issue a show cause order as to possible sanctions. Such Show Cause Hearings may be set for brief hearings [BEFORE THE DISCOVERY SANCTIONS JUDGE] at the time of the next Settlement/Pre-trial Conference, or at an earlier date, if compliance has not occurred.

3. Discovery Sanctions Hearings - generally

If a discovery motion requests sanctions, the file shall be sent to the Discovery Sanctions Judge. The Discovery Sanctions Judge will rule on any motion requesting sanctions, and will determine which cases should be set in for a hearing before the Discovery Sanctions Judge.

The Discovery Sanctions Judge will rule on any motion requesting sanctions, and will determine which cases should be set in for a hearing before the Discovery Sanctions Judge.

C) Sanctions - standards.

1. Standard. Discovery sanctions will be granted as appropriate to alleviate actual prejudice, for expenses incurred by discovering party, or for deliberate noncompliance with Court Orders. Discovery sanctions may be denied if Motion was not timely filed, within a reasonable time after notice of the violation, and in proper format, including a good faith certificate per Maryland Rule 2-431.

2. Motion format. Except as provided in section 10.5 E), motions shall: (1) be submitted in writing; (2) be timely filed in accordance with the Maryland Rules and any Scheduling Order issued in the case; (3) be appropriately and clearly titled; (4) contain a certificate pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-431; (5) include an affidavit as to attorney's fees, if fees are requested; and (6) include a proposed Order.

3. Support required. To facilitate fair discovery sanctions, the Court shall require counsel to submit itemized records as to attorney time and expenses relating to the dispute. If violation is disclosed only at trial, the Court may provide a brief, separate hearing for production of such records, if monetary sanction is sought.

D) Sanctions - choice of remedies.

Sanctions may include dismissal of a claim or defense, exclusion of evidence, fair compensation as to documented expenses or other appropriate relief consistent with Maryland Law.

In matters which relate to children or other parties with legal disabilities, sanctions may be limited to Court costs, counsel fees, adverse inferences and civil fines. However, in its discretion, the Court may impose any appropriate sanction.

For omitted discovery, the Court may direct the discovering party to obtain information directly by subpoena duces tecum, if desired, subject to later Court Order for reimbursement of costs.

E) Merits/Motion/Pendente Lite Hearings: This section does not apply to a discovery violation first recognized during a merits, motion or pendente lite hearing. In that event, the trial judge or master may impose any appropriate sanction, unless the trial judge or master finds it appropriate to defer a specific sanction for later consideration by the Discovery Sanctions Judge.

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11. Sanctions

The Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County will take appropriate steps to assure compliance with all Family Law Case Management Orders issued in accordance with this DCM Plan. If an attorney and/or party fails to comply with any Order, or fails to participate in alternative dispute resolution or other proceedings as ordered, without having first obtained a postponement or other waiver of this Court, the Court shall take appropriate action, including but not limited to, issuing a Show Cause Order, entering an Order of Dismissal, granting of monetary and/or sanctions.

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