Divorce Timeline in Maryland
Complaints: This is the official paper part of the process. A Complaint is a litigant’s way of seeking relief from the Court and it must be signed under oath. Your Complaint will then need to be served. After it is served, the process officially begins.
Answers: Every Complaint must get an Answer. This is where the opposing party files their response to your request from the Court. Answers admit, deny, or neither admit nor deny the allegations set forth in the Complaint. As with the Complaint, the Answer is signed under oath.
Discovery: This is the process used by both sides to determine each party’s position and what can be proven. It gathers financial information, enables property appraisals, gets documents from third parties, and gives us an idea of the testimony of any witnesses.
The Scheduling Conference is one of the easiest parts of the process if you come prepared, and usually takes less than one hour. Both parties and their lawyers sit at a big table before a Master and set the dates for every step in the process.
A Pendente Lite (PL) Hearing determines what will happen in the short term between then and the final Merits Hearing. It covers issues like child support, child access, alimony, use and possession, attorney fees, suit money, and other bill payments.
In Settlement and Status Conferences, we will meet with a Master to try to settle individual aspects of the case, like custody or property. For custody we may hear reports from the Custody Evaluator, and the Best Interest Attorney (if one has been appointed) may share their position. For property, we’ll discuss the Joint Property Statement. You MUST attend these conferences.
Merits Hearings are the end of the process. This is the trial. Either a Judge or Master presides and makes the absolute and final decisions in individual issues after hearing all of the evidence.