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Rules of Family Law Trial Procedure

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When Knowledge of the Rules of Trial Procedure Could Make or Break Your Family Law Case

There are times when family law cases may lean heavily on the facts of the case. Family court cases also rely on a party’s knowledge or lack of it about procedural law. To be certain that you are covered on the legal side, it is best practice to consult an experienced Maryland family law attorney.

We had a case between Lucas and Laura, who were in a heated dispute regarding custody of their two sons. The dispute reached a breaking point when Laura installed an app on her sons’ cell phones to monitor the boys’ messages and social media posts. When Lucas and Laura were about to hash it out in court, Laura was ready to show evidence about texts between the father and their sons. Lucas countered by claiming that Laura had violated the Wiretap and Electronic Surveillance Act of Maryland and requested the judge to do away with the text-message evidence. The judge agreed with Lucas and barred the text-message evidence from the trial hearing.

Laura’s attorney went on with the deliberations without the text-message evidence. The court awarded each parent sole legal custody of one of the sons. Laura thought the outcome was unfair and took it to appeal. She went on to claim that the key to the trial was the text-message evidence, which the judge excluded from the trial. The appeals court recognized that the evidence presented by Lucas that Laura has violated the Surveillance Act was insufficient, however, it still supported the trial judge’s decision.

This decision was based on what Laura did and did not do after the trial judge barred her from using the text-message evidence. Lucas had used a legal strategy called “motion in limine” to bar the text-message evidence. When Lucas had made this motion, Laura should have responded with what the law calls as a “proffer” of evidence. This means you still present to the judge the content of the evidence that you would have shown had the judge not decided to exclude it from the trial. This is an essential step if you are planning to appeal your case. Failure to do so will tell the appellate court that you were not able to “preserve” the evidence, and will lose your argument automatically in your appeal.

This case proves that facts and legal procedures go hand in hand during deliberations and trial, so it is best that you consult a skilled family law attorney with knowledge and experience with the law to make your case and avoid any missteps along the way. For solid advice, legal representation, and intricate knowledge and competent legal skills, consult one of our Maryland family law attorneys today.

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