Call Us Today
Free Consultation 410-321-4994

Towson Divorce Lawyer | Divorce Hearings | The Merits Trial.

The Merits Trial  

The merits trial represents the culmination of a case that has not reached a settlement. During trials, the proceedings adhere to established rules governing the presentation of witnesses and evidence. The litigation process lays the groundwork for the merits trial, beginning with parties articulating their demands in their pleadings, which encompass complaints and counterclaims. The discovery phase plays a pivotal role in revealing evidence, including information obtained through interrogatories, requests for the production of documents, and subpoenas. Contested issues are clarified during the Scheduling Conference. Expert witnesses are designated well in advance of the trial. Parties are mandated to submit joint statements, such as the Joint Parenting Tool and Joint Statement Regarding Marital and Non-Marital Property. At the merits trial, attorneys skillfully construct their cases by presenting evidence through fact witnesses, expert witnesses and their reports, and exhibits. The presentation unfolds through opening statements, direct examinations, cross-examinations, proffers, and closing arguments.In 2014, The Circuit Court for Baltimore County heard 2,450 merits hearings on the Family Law docket.

Trial Preparation 

The preparation process for divorces in Maryland varies depending on the issues being litigated and resolved. The trial preparation process may encompass several crucial steps, including:

  • Submission of Trial-Related Papers: Various documents related to the trial are submitted to the Court. These may include:
  • Pre-trial Statements: Depending on the complexity of your divorce case, pre-trial statements can be valuable. Some jurisdictions may require them.
  • Motions in Limine: These motions are used to address significant evidence-related issues before the trial begins, ensuring that both parties and the Court are clear on admissible evidence.
  • Joint Statements Concerning Marital and Non-Marital Property under Maryland Rule 9-207: These statements are designed to inform the Court about the property disputes in question, properties that haven't been discussed, and properties agreed upon by the litigants as non-contentious. The joint statement is typically prepared collaboratively by both attorneys before the trial. This cooperative process helps the Court understand and manage property-related issues efficiently. If the statement reveals disputes over property title, fair market value, or marital/non-marital status, the Court will make determinations as required by Maryland property disposition statutes.

Witness Preparation

Amar S. Weisman and the opposing attorney work on preparing you and your key witnesses for both direct examination and cross-examination. This involves acquainting witnesses with the themes of their testimony and the types of questions they can expect to face during the trial. Efforts are made to help witnesses understand the hearsay rule, which restricts testimony based on what someone else said. It's essential for litigants to be well-prepared, anticipate potential questions, respond directly, and understand how exhibits are presented. Navigating the Rules of Evidence is critical, as it plays a pivotal role in every court presentation

Witness Selection

During the trial preparation process, it may be necessary to issue trial subpoenas for crucial fact witnesses, which can include individuals from various professional backgrounds and personal relationships. These fact witnesses may include:

  • Accountants and Bookkeepers: To provide financial information and expertise relevant to the case.

  • Alcohol Evaluators, Drug Evaluators, and Substance Abuse Specialists:** Particularly in cases involving severe and recent addiction issues.

  • Child Care Providers: Ranging from babysitters to certified professionals, who can offer insights into the care and well-being of the children involved.

  • Coaches: Especially in custody matters where the minor child/children have significant athletic involvement that affects visitation schedules.

  • Character Witnesses: These can include family members, neighbors, ministers, and long-term friends who are familiar with one or both parties and can attest to their character.

  • Counselors: To provide insights into any therapeutic or counseling sessions that may be relevant to the case.

  • Family Members: Including both immediate and extended family members who can provide valuable information about family dynamics and relationships.

  • Former Spouses:In cases involving multiple marriages or relationships, former spouses may have insights into relevant issues.

  • Law Enforcement:To provide information related to any legal or law enforcement matters relevant to the case.

  • Ministers:If religious or spiritual matters are pertinent to the case.

  • Neighbors: Who can offer observations about the parties' interactions and behaviors.

  • Parents in the Community:Especially if they have knowledge of the parties' involvement in community activities or organizations.

  • Physicians and Healthcare Providers: Including pediatricians and dentists, whose testimony may be important. It's advisable to obtain evidence from them in advance, potentially through depositions de bene esse, due to availability issues.

  • Probation Officers: In cases where individuals involved in the case are under probation or legal supervision.

  • Social Workers: If they have been involved with the family or individuals in question.

  • Teachers: Who can provide insights into the children's educational and developmental needs.

  • Issuing trial subpoenas to these fact witnesses is a crucial step in building a comprehensive and well-supported case for trial, ensuring that all relevant information and perspectives are brought before the court.

Expert Witnesses 

Effective collaboration with key expert witnesses is essential in constructing a robust legal case. These experts, including Child Custody Evaluators, Forensic Accountants, Personal Property Appraisers, Real Property Appraisers (particularly valuable for cases involving significant real property equity acquired during the marriage), and Vocational Experts (especially relevant in cases involving allegations of voluntary impoverishment, rehabilitative alimony, or alimony modification), provide specialized insights and assessments crucial to the case's success. Their expertise, whether in child custody matters, financial analysis, property valuation, or employability assessments, greatly contributes to a well-rounded and compelling legal strategy, ensuring that clients' interests are effectively represented in court.


In the meticulous preparation for legal proceedings, it is essential to identify, mark, and introduce crucial exhibits, including but not limited to the following:

  • Appraisals for real property and personal property are pivotal in assessing the value of assets in the marital estate.

  • Bank statements play a vital role in establishing both income and expenses, providing financial transparency.

  • Bills that evidence household expenses are instrumental in supporting figures presented in financial information. They also help address any discrepancies in the opposing party's financial statement

  •  Certified Court Records, encompassing Court orders and transcripts from Circuit Court and District Court for Baltimore County proceedings, offer an authoritative foundation for legal arguments.

  • Correspondence between parties and third parties serves as pertinent documentation for various aspects of the case.

  • Discovery responses provided by the opposing party are critical in building a comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand.

  • Financial statements, including Long-Form and Short-Form Financial Statements, are obligatory in matters concerning Alimony, child custody, and counsel fees.

  • Invoices for legal services are essential to substantiate claims for attorney's fees. It's crucial to ensure that these invoices are introduced into evidence.

  • Medical records for both parties and minor children are subject to government doctor-patient privilege and HIPAA regulations. Overcoming privacy statutes may necessitate consent or waivers, particularly when representing minor children. Obtaining records from therapists or counselors can also present challenges.

  • Pay stubs for both parties become relevant when determining child support obligations, providing valuable income information.

  • Photographs of the marital home and children can visually document conditions and relationships.

  • Police reports and Requests for Statements of Charges filed with law enforcement can offer insight into legal matters and incidents related to the case.

  • Text messages exchanged between the parties and with third parties serve as electronic evidence, shedding light on communication and interactions.

  • Introducing these exhibits thoughtfully and strategically enhances the strength and persuasiveness of the case presentation in legal proceedings.


Blog Postings By Amar S. Weisman

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

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.