There are numerous reasons why you should have a Maryland family law attorney by your side during your divorce. A few may be obvious, but one thing you may have missed is when you suddenly encounter an emergency that keeps you from being present in a regularly scheduled court hearing. Not having an attorney and being a no-show can have a negative impact on your case. However, if you have an attorney represent you, they will know how to give notice to the court of your emergency and other necessary and timely action on your behalf. This includes asking the court for a continuance and having the court hearing rescheduled, saving you from the negative impact of not notifying the court beforehand.

In 2012, Lucas and Toni got divorced. Without consulting attorneys, they worked out a voluntary separation and property settlement agreement that called for Lucas to make monthly payments to Toni. After Lucas allegedly did not make certain payments, Toni went to court and asked to hold Lucas in contempt. The ex-couple went back to court in September of 2016 to have a merits hearing with a magistrate (some cases in Maryland are first held before a magistrate prior to going in the presence and authority of a judge). The magistrate will take heed of the evidence presented and will proceed to file a report citing their findings and the facts considered with their recommendations to the judge.

After the magistrate finishes making their report and before the judge is ready to pass their final order, a period of time is allowed by the law to give you a chance to challenge the findings or report of the magistrate, a filing of an “exception”. Lucas filed an exception with the argument that the magistrate erred on the side of failure to notice or take into consideration evidence such as bank records, 1099’s, and mortgage and rental payment documentation. The case was then set for a hearing before the circuit court judge to deliberate on the exception Lucas filed. Toni and her attorney were present, however, Lucas, who did not hire an attorney, failed to appear without giving notice of the reason for his absence. Lucas also failed to contact the judge and Toni about his whereabouts.

Lucas’ Absence Set A Series of Negative Outcomes For Him

The judge discovered that Lucas was given and received notice in due manner of the hearing. The judge then proceeded to deliberate the filing of exceptions in the presence of Toni and her lawyer. Toni was asked by the judge if she wanted to make any motions. Her lawyer sensibly requested that Lucas’ exceptions be overruled and the magistrate’s recommendations be adopted. Because Lucas failed to attend and there was no one to represent him, the judge granted Toni’s request and threw out Lucas’ objections. Maybe Lucas had prepared strong evidence or argument to support his exceptions and to keep the magistrate’s recommendations from being adopted. Because Lucas failed to show up and he had no legal counsel to give voice to his pleas and objections, all his efforts were wasted.

We strongly advise that you do not let the same thing happen to you. Make sure you have an experienced Maryland family law attorney to guide and support you throughout the entire process of divorce. Don’t wait, schedule your consultation with one of our divorce attorneys today.