A Basic Outline of the Divorce Litigation Process

One of the most frequently asked questions in regards to divorce revolves around the length of time necessary to finalize a divorce. Unfortunately, there is no specific answer. Many factors affect the length of time that a case may remain open, such as the complexity of the facts, the willingness of the parties to compromise, or even the court’s calendar. While a specific timeframe is unknown, an understanding of the litigation process may be helpful to those pursuing a divorce.

Below is a basic outline of the litigation process as it relates to a divorce case in Maryland. This outline is not relevant for other types of litigation in Maryland and is not an exhaustive explanation of all of the steps that may be involved in every divorce.

  1. The Plaintiff files a Complaint to start a case.
  2. After being served with the Complaint, the Defendant can file any preliminary motions he or she thinks are necessary. A trusted attorney can help determine if any preliminary motions are relevant for your case.
  3. Once any preliminary motions are dealt with, the Defendant may file an Answer to the Complaint.
  4. If an Answer is filed, both parties attend a scheduling conference. At the scheduling conference deadlines are created for filing additional documents and preparing discovery. At the conference, additional services are ordered, such as custody evaluations, mediation, and dates for future settlement conferences and magistrate’s hearing(s) are scheduled.
  5. Discovery requests and subpoenas are issued by both parties. The discovery process is an ongoing process and both the Plaintiff and the Defendant have an ongoing obligation to supplement his or her answers to any discovery requests he or she may receive.
  6. If a magistrate hearing was scheduled at the scheduling conference, then that magistrate hearing is held. Magistrate hearings can resolve issues such as temporary custody, temporary child support, and temporary alimony.
  7. Both parties attend a settlement conference. Parties can settle terms of the divorce and/or custody prior to trial.
  8. If all of the outstanding issues are not settled, the case proceeds to trial regarding the unresolved issues.
  9. If one party does not like the result of trial, he or she may file an appeal.

If you would like to discuss the divorce litigation process in greater detail please call (410) 838-7100 to schedule a consult with one of ours attorneys.

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