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Towson Divorce Lawyer | Divorce Hearings | The Merits Trial.

The Merits Trial  

  • The merits trial is where it all comes together if your case does not settle.
  • Trials are conducted based on. the rules of witnesses
  • The litigation process sets the stage for the merits trial: 
    • Parties state what they want in their pleadings including complaints and counterclaims. 
    • Evidence is disclosed through the discovery process
      • Interrogatories
      • Requests for the Production of Documents
      • Subpoenas and Subpoenas Duces Tecum  
    • Contested issues are identified at the Scheduling Conference 
    • Expert witnesses are designated before the trial. 
    • Parties are required to submit joint statements:
      • Joint Parenting Tool 
      • Joint Statement Regarding Marital and Non-Marital Property 
  • Attorneys frame and present evidence at the merits trial using:
    • Fact witnesses
    • Expert witnesses & Their Reports 
    • Exhibits 
    • Opening statements
    • Direct Examination
    • Cross Examination
    • Proffers 
    • Closing Arguments 

Trial Preparation 

The preparation process for divorces in Maryland depends on what is being litigated and what is resolved. The trial preparation process may include any or all of the following: 

  • Prepare you and your key witnesses for their direct-examination and cross-examination. This includes familiarizing witnesses about the themes of their testimony, the kinds of questions that they will be confronted with by Amar S. Weisman and the opposing attorney; wherever possible, Amar S. Weisman tries to help witnesses understand the hearsay rule, which limits witnesses from saying "what somebody else said." As a litigant, you want to show up in court with some idea about the kinds of things you will be asked, the way to answer questions directly, and how exhibits work. One of the reasons that people who represent themselves fail is the difficulty navigating the Rules of Evidence and the rules of evidence must factor into every presentation to the court.
  • Submit trial-related papers with the Court, including:
    • Pre-trial statements are sometimes helpful depending on the level of complexity of your divorce matter. Certain jurisdictions require Pre-Trial Statements.
    • Motions in Limine help the court address serious questions of evidence before the trial actually happens.
    • Joint Statements Concerning Marital and Non-Marital Property pursuant to Maryland Rule 9-207 The Joint Statement of Marital and Non-Marital Property is formulated to advise the court about what property is being disputed, what properties not been disputed and what property is agreed by the litigants to be off the table. The joint statement is prepared by both counsel, in advance of the trial, in a process that should be cooperative and meant to help the court clarify and conduct the trial in orderly and efficient manner. If the statement reflects any disputes about the title, fair market value, or whether the property is marital or non-marital, then those issues I decided by the court as required by the statute governing property disposition Maryland.
  • Issue trial subpoenas for key fact witnesses, including:
    • Accountants and Bookkeepers
    • Alcohol Evaluators, Drug Evaluators and Substance Abuse specialists, in matters that involve serious and recent addiction.
    • Child Care Providers ranging from babysitters to certified professionals.
    • Coaches are helpful in custody matters where the minor child/children have significant athletic involvement that factors into the visitation schedule.
    • Character witnesses including family members, neighbors, and ministers, and long-term friends who are familiar with one or both parties.
    • Counselors
    • Family members.
    • Former Spouses.
    • Law enforcement.
    • Ministers.
    • Neighbors.
    • Parents in the community.
    • Physicians and health care providers including the pediatrician and dentist can be helpful, but due to availability issues it may be helpful to obtain evidence from them in advance including by deposition de bene esse.
    • Probation Officers.
    • Social workers.
    • Teachers.
  • Collaborate with key expert witnesses, such as:
    • Child Custody Evaluators.
    • Forensic Accountants.
    • Personal Property appraisers.
    • Real Property appraisers can be helpful if there is a significant real property with equity that was acquired during the marriage.
    • Vocational Experts especially in cases that include allegations of voluntary impoverishment, rehabilitative alimony or the modification of an Alimony Award
  • Identify, Mark & Introduce Important Exhibits, such as:
    • Appraisals for real property and personal property.
    • Bank statements to establish income and expenses.
    • Bills evidencing household expenses in support of figures that appear on your financial statement (along with bills that contradict the numbers listed on the other side's financial statement).
    • Certified Court Records including Court orders and transcripts of Circuit Court and District Court for Baltimore County proceedings.
    • Correspondence between the parties and with third-parties.
    • Discovery responses provided by the other side.
    • Financial statements including Long-Form Financial Statements and Short-Form Financial Statements that must be submitted in all matters concerning Alimony, child custody and counsel fees.
    • Invoices for legal services, which are necessary to substantiate a claim for attorney's fees. It is common for counsel fees to be denied because an attorney has forgotten to introduce them into evidence.
    • Medical records for the parties and/or the minor children, subject to rules government doctor-patient privilege and HIPAA. Overcoming privacy statutes may require consent for an adult or, in the case where there are children, a waiver requested by an attorney representing the minor children. Medical records are especially difficult to obtain from a therapist or counselor.
    • Pay Stubs for both parties if child support needs to be determined.
    • Photographs of the marital home and/or children.
    • Police reports and Requests for Statements of Charges filed with law enforcement.
    • Text messages between the parties and with third parties.

Whenever a case involves multiple witnesses, it is always a good idea to schedule the witnesses in advance and to work with opposing counsel. Respect for the time of witnesses, whether they are called by you or the opposing attorney, is esential.

In 2014, The Circuit Court for Baltimore County heard 2,450 merits hearings on the Family Law docket.

Call (410) 321-4994 For a Free Consultation With Amar S. Weisman.

The family firm is located near The Circuit Court for Baltimore County at 1018 Dulaney Valley Road, 2nd Floor. When you Exit 695 onto Dulaney Valley Road, The Law Offices of Amar S. Weisman, LLC is the first house on the right. We represent clients throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area including Aberdeen. Abingdon, Annapolis, Baldwin, Baltimore, Bel Air, Carney, Catonsville, Cockeysville, Dundalk, Edgewood, Essex, Glen Burnie, Hunt Valley, Hydes, Lutherville, Mays Chapel, Middle River, Owings Mills, Parkville, Perry Hall, Ruxton, Severna Park, Timonium, Towson, Westminster and White Marsh.

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Divorce Court Baltimore County

We represent clients throughout the Baltimore area including Aberdeen. Abingdon, Bel Air, Bowleys Quarters, Catonsville, Cockeysville, Edgewood, Essex, Lutherville, Owings Mills, Parkville, Perry Hall, Rosedale, Sparrows Point, Timonium, Towson, Westminster and White Marsh.