For the average person with no legal experience the Court system can seem daunting and frustrating because of the various rules and procedures that everyone needs to follow. Basically, this is what happens:
- A Complaint or Motion gets written and filed with the Court. This is often called the initial pleading. (You can do this yourself in what is called ProSe or my a qualified and experienced lawyer.) The Court also requires you to file what is called an Information Sheet for organizational purposes. If alimony or child support is requested your MUST file a Financial Statement with your pleading, if you don’t your case is subject to dismissal. There will be a fee to file unless you ask for a waiver due to hardship.
- The Court will then issues a summons and will then return your pleading back to you for service. The summons can be served by the sheriff or someone over 18, but if you use someone to server the pleading, you who must submit an affidavit to the Court that the other party was served the papers. YOU CAN NOT SERVE THE PAPERS YOURSELF.
- The summons must, depending where the other party lives will have 30 days if they live in Maryland or 60 Days if out of state to file an answer or other responsive pleadings. If they do not answer then you must file a Default Motion and an affidavit they are not in the military service. Please note that if the person lives outside the United States they will have longer to answer and may not be subject to our laws.
- A scheduling Order will then be established once the parties have filed their answers. This sets time for discovery to learn about assets, experts and other factual matters. They may also set you in for mediation or parenting classes. The Court can also set a Pendete Lite hearing to set child support, access, spousal support and suit money to name a few.
- Many Courts have settlement conferences or status conferences to see where the case is headed and help to settle. You may get a trial date at that time.
- On the trial date you will present your case for judicial determination. If you do not like the decision of the Court you have a right to file post trial Motions or ask an Appellate Court to review the lower Courts decision.
Remember that this is general information and you should seek the advice of a qualified attorney to help you through this process.