Frequently Asked Questions
Are the courts closed due to the pandemic?
The courts have remained open to accept filings in all cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, though there are restrictions on operations within the courthouses. In most jurisdictions, court filings can be made via the MDEC electronic filing systems. In the jurisdictions that have not yet adopted MDEC, the filings can be mailed to the court or left at a drop box outside the courthouse. However, even though the courthouses remain open for filings, the may be imitations on the types of cases that can be heard in court during the pandemic. The court has a 5-phase response which determines which types of cases may be held in-person during the pandemic. If an in-person hearing is not permitted, it may be possible to conduct a remote hearing via Zoom, Skype, or by phone. For more information about the judiciary’s response to coronavirus, please go to the following link: https://www.mdcourts.gov/coronavirusupdate
I was served with court papers. What happens next?
If you were served with a summons in a family law case in Maryland, in most instances you will have 30 days to file a response, which is called an Answer. In the Answer, you will admit or deny each of the allegations in the Plaintiff’s Complaint. After the Answer is filed, you will receive notice of a scheduling conference. The purpose of the scheduling conference is to set deadlines for the case, which can include deadlines for discovery and mediation. The court may schedule a pendente lite hearing to determine whether temporary orders should be established for child custody, support, and/or alimony, among other things. Other court services may be requested at that time.
I want to file a divorce case. How long will it take?
You may file a divorce case if you have the proper grounds for a divorce (link to divorce section). After the case is filed with the court, we will receive a summons that will have to be served upon the Defendant, along with the other court papers. In most cases, the Defendant will have 30 days from the date of service in which to file an Answer admitting or denying the allegations of the Complaint. If all of the allegations are admitted, then an uncontested divorce hearing will be scheduled in a few weeks. Within a couple of weeks of that hearing, the divorce judgment should be signed by the court. On the other hand, if any allegations in the Complaint are not admitted, this will be considered a contested case. In contested cases, the court sends notices to the parties requiring them to attend a scheduling conference. At the scheduling conference you will get a better idea of how long the case may take. In a fully contested divorce, where issues of alimony, child custody, child support, and division of martial property are all contested, the court will try to have the case resolved within a year of the date of filing. It should be noted that these time standards are not possible due to the COVID pandemic, so a fully contested case may take longer than a year to complete.
How much is child support?
Child support is based on the gross monthly income of the parties. It also takes into account various expenses for the children, including daycare, medical insurance, and extraordinary medical expenses. Another factor is the amount of overnights that the children spend with each parent. In Maryland, shared custody begins when a parent receives 25% or more of overnights with the children, which is about 92 overnights per year. If the overnights are less than 25%, this is a sole custody situation, which creates an increased child support amount.
How much will my case cost?
This really depends on the type of matter and how many issues are contested. In most situations, I will ask you to complete an intake form where you can provide relevant details about your case. The purpose of the intake process is to provide enough information about your situation so that we can assess the issues and perhaps clear up any misconceptions that you might have about your case or the court process. This may resolve some parts of the case and reduce costs. The intake will be reviewed at an initial consultation, where we can discuss how much the case may cost. If you cannot afford representation, it may be possible to hire me for limited scope representation that will be more affordable.