Some divorces are difficult, and no matter how hard you and your soon-to-be ex try to work together, it’s just not going to happen. You’re unable to agree on important issues like child custody, alimony, child support, and property division. Facing a contentious divorce can be overwhelming and even intimidating – especially if you don’t know what to expect.
However, no matter how complex or contested your Rockville divorce may be, if you know what to expect, the process may go more smoothly. We’ve put together some information on what you might expect in family court.
What to expect during your Maryland divorce case
When a divorce reaches a stalemate and looks like it’s heading to court, your divorce attorney can be your rock. Your legal team provides honest, objective advice and open communication every step of the way. The divorce process typically looks like this:
- Filing the case. Divorce papers are filed with the court, requesting the marriage be ended and that a judge make a decision on all related matters (child custody, alimony, child support, asset division, etc.). Next, papers are served to the other spouse, including the date of the hearing and any information about an upcoming deposition.
- During discovery, all facts of the case are discovered and disclosed on both sides. You may be requested to answer questions under oath, or provide paperwork and documentation like mortgage information, credit card statements, bank statements, etc. Sometimes your friends, family, or colleagues may be subpoenaed to appear in court as well.
- You may need to hire an expert (or experts) to testify regarding their opinions about a person’s mental health, the value of certain assets, the best interests of a child, and other important issues.
- Pre-trial. Pre-trial is when you and your attorney let the court know what issues are still being decided (and how long the trial should take). This is also when pre-trial motions are addressed, like whether or not certain pieces of evidence will be admitted. And, you’ll be given deadlines for when you must disclose what your experts will say, which documents you plan to submit as evidence, as well as a deadline to object to any evidence submitted from your ex’s side.
- Preparing testimony. All witnesses are prepared for testimony. They’ll be prepped on how to conduct themselves in the courtroom as well as what kinds of questions will be asked. You can also organize and prepare your own testimony.
- Attorney meeting. Before trial, attorneys often meet and attempt to make settlement offers to resolve the case before going in to trial.
- Each side makes an opening argument. During the trial, the facts are presented, and any witnesses are called to testify. After giving their testimonies, they’re cross-examined by the other spouse’s attorney. Each side presents a closing argument. Of course, the length of this can vary depending on the complexity of the divorce and the trial.
- A judge can make a ruling on a divorce case at the end of a hearing or at a later date.
- Court order. After the judge makes a ruling, the judge or one of the attorneys writes it into a court order. If you decide there’s any part of the order you want to appeal, your attorney and your ex’s attorney will attempt to come to an agreement. If they can’t, you may have to head back to court.
- Carrying out the order. Finally, after the divorce, the rulings must turn into action. This includes putting custody arrangements into effect, dividing or selling property, and beginning orders for alimony or child support.
Divorce can be a complex and emotional process. Having an experienced attorney on your side is the key to getting results. At McCabe Russell, PA, our Rockville family law attorneys fight for you from beginning to end – and as long as you need us. To speak with an experienced lawyer serving Montgomery County clients, please call 443-917-3347 or fill out our contact form. We also maintain offices in Bethesda, Columbia and Fulton.