The first judge a person sees when they file a domestic case in Maryland is a family law magistrate. They are attorneys and do not wear robes in court. They are addressed as “Your Honor” and oversee initial court appearances to set dates for divorce cases. Magistrate judges govern temporary hearings for custody modification about access, child support, and alimony. They may hear other types of issues and make rulings, but their authority is limited. Finally, their rulings are sent to a judge for approval and signature.

After a magistrate makes a ruling on a case, the parties involved in Maryland divorce proceedings have ten days to file exceptions if they want to challenge their conclusion. In order to contest a ruling, a party must go before a judge and argue for why they should grant exceptions. If a judge grants some or all of the requested exceptions, they subsequently send it back to the magistrate for another hearing. Family law judges also hear uncontested divorces and certain contempt hearings. A judge is the ultimate decider in a case, and they hear the parties’ arguments regarding how to divide marital property, child support, alimony, and attorney’s fees in Maryland circuit courts.

Children of a Divorcing Couple

The children of a divorcing couple are the greatest casualties of marriage dissolution. The courts consider kids to be the most important part of a divorce, and their best interests guide custody litigation.

The courts may appoint a best interest attorney for children to represent their needs during custody and divorce litigation. Their appointed lawyer must make the court aware of the children’s position and wishes. They may also give the court their recommendation for the children’s best interests based on independent research and interviews and all the evidence.

Kids are usually the driving force of any divorce case involving children. How children are affected greatly depends on what their parents do in their divorce. It is often best to keep kids as far away from the litigation process as possible and remove them from any kind of strife or conflict between their parents.

Initiate Spouse

A spouse who initiates the filing for a divorce is called a plaintiff. During a trial and in hearings, the plaintiff presents their case first. Their attorney gives an opening statement first and addresses witnesses before the opposing party. A plaintiff also has the final say after a defendant presents their case.

The courts usually arrange the plaintiff’s deadline before the defendant’s. Otherwise, plaintiffs and defendants are equal and have equal rights. Neither party is favored by the court because one files first.

Responding Spouse

The spouse who responds to a divorce is called the defendant. They should contact a lawyer immediately after they receive court papers for advice and guidance. Divorce documents typically feature specific time tables, and the defendant must respond in writing by a certain date. Otherwise, there may be severe consequences to their case such as losing the opportunity to participate in their divorce proceedings.

Someone who receives court papers should immediately contact an attorney, even if they believe they were not served in the right way, pages are missing, or the information is inaccurate. They must respond in writing to the lawsuit, or they cannot be an active participant in the case.

Divorce Coach

Parties engaged in litigation do not have divorce coaches. Instead, they might have a mental health professional such as a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. These professionals could help them emotionally deal with the divorce process.

A divorce coach is often used during the collaborative law process where the parties agree to settle in an open and honest fashion. Everything should be brought to the table, and the parties should not hide anything. It is at this stage that lawyers are required to share any facts their client shares with them, as there is no confidentiality between an individual and their attorney. During the collaborative process, a divorce coach helps the parties involved in Maryland divorce proceedings navigate litigation with confidence.