Family Services

Going through a divorce can be very stressful, particularly for children.  To make the process more family friendly, and to provide maximum protection for children, the court has developed a Family Services Department.  The Director of the Department, Ann Brandt, is a licensed clinical counselor and trained mediator who provides the following services: 

Problem Solving:

 The director is available to meet with parties and/or their children to assess their problems, help resolve their differences and refer them to counselors and/or other community resources that may provide additional assistance.

Parenting Assessments:

 The director provides parenting assessments to the court to determine the need for a guardian ad litem or other appropriate counseling options. 

Guardians ad Litem:  

The director coordinates the appointment of guardians ad litem and monitors their training and performance.  Guardians are often appointed by the court to make recommendations as to the best interest of children.

Mental Health Professionals:

 The director coordinates the appointment of  mental health professionals who are often appointed by the court to undertake psychological evaluations of parties or children and/or to undertake custody evaluations.

Drug and Alcohol Testing and School Records:

 The director will assist parties and the court in scheduling drug and alcohol assessments and securing school records to assist the court in making the best parenting determinations.

The Director can be reached by calling:  330-740-2208.


The Mahoning County Domestic Relations Court believes strongly in mediation—a dispute resolution process in which parties are empowered to settle their own disputes facilitated by a trained, neutral third party.  Studies have shown that when parties reach their own agreements through mediation, they tend to be far more lasting than those imposed upon them by the court.

The court believes that mediation is particularly beneficial in disputes over parenting (custody and visitation) since the typical adversary process often makes already conflicting parties even more polarized which can result in estrangement from children.

Because of the great success of mediation in settling over 70% of cases referred, all four of the Court’s magistrates have received training and certification by the Ohio Supreme Court—thereby allowing the court to offer this as a free service to litigants.

It is important to note that when a case is referred to a magistrate for mediation, that magistrate keeps all communications confidential and will not have any further dealings with the parties should future litigation arise.

Litigants should talk to their attorneys about their options for mediation or contact the Court’s Family Services Department at 330-740-2208  for more information.

Parents Workshop -
The court has temporarily suspended the workshop due to COVID

By Local Rule, the Mahoning County Domestic Relations Court requires all parents with minor children who are parties to a divorce or legal separation action to attend an educational workshop prior to the date of final hearing.  The 2 ½ hour Workshop topics include:
The experience of divorce for adults.
How children react to divorce.
How parents can help their children.
Building a parental relationship with your former spouse after divorce.
Help in solving problems around the children.
The program is offered once per month at the Alta Care Group (formerly The D & E Counseling Center) located at 711 Belmont Avenue, Youngstown, OH 44502.  

The cost of the Workshop is $20.00 cash and is payable to "Alta" on the date of attendance.

To schedule your Workshop, call the Court at 330-740-2208.

Hope House Visitation Center

Judge Smith was one of the co-founders of the Hope House Visitation Center, a specially built home that provides a child-friendly environment for supervised visitation and/or the safe exchange of children.  

When parties are referred to Hope House, the staff will schedule a mandatory orientation for each. During that time, the parties will learn what Hope House is all about, be advised of the fees, complete the required forms, take a tour and work out a mutually beneficial parenting schedule for all parties involved.

The hours of Hope House vary based on the availability of staff and the needs of families.

Hope House is located at 660 W. Earle Ave., Youngstown, OH 44511.  The phone number is 330-788-8927.

For more information about Hope House, please visit their website at

To view the brochure about Hope House, Click here.