The Value of a Good Legal Advocate in Your Maryland Divorce: It Goes Further Than You Might Think

A knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer can help your case in countless ways. Sometimes, those ways involve in-depth knowledge of the law or the effective use of the pre-trial discovery processes to get key evidence. Other times, a skilled divorce lawyer can help by managing a client’s expectations and giving them strong, unflinching advice about what sort of things can help your case… and which ones almost certainly won’t.

As an example, let’s look at the divorce case of A.T., an Upper Marlboro man whose wife filed for divorce the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2018.

The husband, in response, “did not file an answer, counter complaint, or any pleading requesting relief from the court.”

In June 2019, both spouses appeared before a magistrate to have their uncontested divorce hearing. Neither spouse had a lawyer. The wife, when it was her time, approached the bench. The husband did not.

Instead, he and “an unidentified man who came with him waving a red flag, addressed the court from the wall outside the well of the courtroom. The two men interrupted the magistrate at least six times during the hearing.”

The appeals court did not indicate the exact basis for the husband’s refusal to approach, the meaning of the flag, or the reason for the other man’s presence. However, certain groups frequently engage in “unconventional” modes of appearance in courts. For example, members of the “sovereign citizen” movement believe they are not under the jurisdiction of the courts. When they appear in court as a result of someone’s else filing, they often refuse to follow the judge’s directions and shout various statements of their beliefs about the court’s jurisdiction throughout the process.

The Consequences of Not Following the Established Procedure

Each person in this state is largely free to do what they want. If you want to decline to hire an attorney and pursue your divorce the way this husband did, you can do so. What a skilled Maryland divorce lawyer will tell you, though, is that if don’t have counsel and you do approach the case in that manner, there will be certain consequences. One of those likely will be that you will not end up with a favorable outcome. When you engage the courts in that manner, the courts will treat you as if you have presented no pleadings (or filings to counter your spouse’s pleadings) and no evidence of any kind. If your spouse has sufficiently presented her case, then the court will treat her assertions and evidence as uncontroverted.

That’s what happened in A.T.’s case. After losing, he attempted to avail himself of the system’s processes, again without success. He filed a “Motion for Reconsideration,” although the substance of his request actually was a motion to revise. That failed.

In his appeal, he argued that the trial court engaged in an irregularity in violation of Rule 2-535(b) when the court allegedly failed to distribute marital property. The problem was that, even if the court had made the mistake that the husband alleged, it wasn’t an “irregularity.” As the appeals court explained, “an irregularity… is not an error… but a nonconformity of process or procedure.” Irregularities can include things like “failures to send notice of a default judgment, to send notice of an order dismissing an action, to mail a notice to the proper address, and to provide for required publication.”

What the husband alleged was not akin to any of those things, and his appeal failed.

What you can take away from this husband’s unsuccessful litigation are two things. One, you can go to court seeking to make a political statement or you can go to court focused on getting the most favorable outcome possible, but you likely cannot do both. Two, whatever your objectives, an experienced divorce attorney can give you a clearer picture of what to expect and, if you’re truly focused on your divorce judgment, how to achieve the best possible outcome.

The knowledgeable Maryland family law attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC proudly offer our clients experienced-based, personalized, and thoughtful advice about their situations, along with diligent, determined, and detail-oriented representation in and out of court. Contact us today at 301-519-2801 or via our online form to set up your consultation.

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