Divorce is a broad term in Maryland. Before a marriage can be dissolved, there is typically a trial where issues of custody, access, use and possession of a home, finances, bank accounts, alimony, child support, attorney’s fees, dependency exemptions, and debts may be discussed and decided. For questions about the different ways that a Maryland divorce trial can be delayed or lengthened, consult a knowledgeable team of lawyers familiar with this area of family law.
Going to Court to Dissolve a Marriage
A majority of cases settle prior to trial or on the day thereof, but a small percentage of divorces that do escalate to litigation are enough to backlog the courts with domestic cases. Family law cases take up most of the court’s docket on a regular basis. For some Maryland divorces, there is no option except to go to trial.
However, there are instances that may warrant a judge to take emergency action for a family’s needs. Issues that may qualify as emergencies include the following:
- Where the child should go to school
- One parent wants to relocate out of state with the kids
- Abuse against the children
- Safety or welfare concerns of the kids
- Drugs, alcohol, or substance abuse
- Denial of access to either parent
With the help of skilled legal counsel, a spouse may seek the court’s emergency power to take immediate action for time-sensitive matters.
Additionally, there are often many hearings before a divorce case goes to trial. Some trials settle on the day of divorce, and a judge can help the parties do this by meeting with their lawyers in chambers. Many experienced attorneys advocate for settlement outside of court because it saves both parties a substantial amount of time and resources.
Length of a Divorce Trial
The progress of a Maryland divorce trial depends on the issues that are contested. When there is a custody case in addition to a divorce, the former’s process may be lengthy. If there is a large amount of marital property, a trial’s progress would depend the amount of days requested for the court to hear the parties’ case. The number of witnesses also factors into the speed at which a divorce proceeds. For example, two spouses might have multiple witnesses to testify, which can result in a very long case.
It also depends on whether experts such as accountants, business assessors, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists are summoned to weigh in on a divorce trial. Experts tend to lengthen cases tremendously as well as increase their cost. For these reasons, it is important to have qualified legal representation prior to a scheduling conference, because once you receive trial dates they can be very difficult to change.
A case may also be prolonged if a couple has an attorney represent their minor children. If the children in a divorce trial are in therapy, a child privilege lawyer would be appointed to decide whether it is in their best interest to release their confidential information to the tribunal. For instance, if they confide in their therapist about their experience with the divorce, the children’s appointed attorney would determine if that information could benefit their case and decide whether to present it at trial.
Each case depends on what is contested, the resources of the parties, and the use of experts and other professionals such as custody evaluators who provide recommendations on the appropriate types of custody arrangements for involved children. Those preparing for a Maryland divorce trial would benefit from the guidance of a seasoned family lawyer who can educate them about what to expect from the process of dissolution. Schedule an appointment today to learn more.