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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 
  • The attorney frames and presents evidence at the merits trial using the following:
    • 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 critical witnesses for their direct examination and cross-examination. This includes familiarizing witnesses with the themes of their testimony and 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 ideas about the kinds of things you will be asked, how 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 complexity of your divorce matter. In addition, certain jurisdictions require Pre-Trial Statements.
    • Motions in Limine help the court address severe evidence questions before the trial.
    • Joint Statements Concerning Marital and Non-Marital Property under 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 have not been discussed, and what property is agreed by the litigants to be off the table. The joint statement is prepared by both counsels, in advance of the trial, in a process that should be cooperative and meant to help the Court clarify and conduct the prosecution in an 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 in Maryland.
  • Issue trial subpoenas for crucial fact witnesses, including:
    • Accountants and Bookkeepers
    • Alcohol Evaluators, Drug Evaluators, and Substance Abuse specialists in matters that involve severe and recent addiction.
    • Child Care Providers range 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 include family members, neighbors, ministers, and long-term friends 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. Still, due to availability issues, it may be beneficial 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 acquired during the marriage.
    • Vocational Experts, especially in cases that include allegations of voluntary impoverishment, rehabilitative Alimony, or modifying 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 information (along with accounts that contradict the numbers listed on the other side's financial statement).
    • We have 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, must be submitted in all matters concerning Alimony, child custody, and counsel fees.
    • Invoices for legal services 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 the minor children are subject to rules of 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. In addition, medical records are tough 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 children.
    • Police reports and Requests for Statements of Charges filed with law enforcement.
    • Text messages between the parties and with third parties.

Scheduling the witnesses in advance and working with opposing counsel is always a good idea whenever a case involves multiple witnesses. Respect for the time of witnesses, whether you or the opposing attorney calls them, is essential.

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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Please Call (410) 321-4994 during business hours to schedule a free consultation to decide whether you want to retain Amar S. Weisman. The firm does not accept pro bono clients at this time. To have legal services and advice, you must pay a retainer, See Policy on Fees/Costs. The law firm is located in the heart of Towson near The Circuit Court For Baltimore County, Towson Town Center, Goucher College and Towson University, at 1018 Dulaney Valley Road (MD-146), Second Floor Towson, MD 21204. We represent clients throughout the Baltimore area, including Aberdeen, Abingdon, Baldwin, Bel Air, Bowleys Quarters, Brooklandville, Carney, Catonsville, Cockeysville, Edgewood, Essex, Garrison, Glen Arm, Greenspring Valley, Homeland, Hunt Valley, Hydes, the Joppa Road Corridor, Kingsville, Long Green, Lutherville, Middle River, Nottingham, Owings Mills, Parkville, Pikesville, Perry Hall, Reisterstown, Riderwood, Rodgers Forge, Rosedale, Ruxton, Sparks, Sparrows Point, Stoneleigh, Timonium, Towson, West Towson, White Hall, White Marsh, and the York Road corridor. We have also represented several out-of-state clients. The law firm does not guarantee the results in any matter.