Maryland Divorce Rules
2-101. COMMENCEMENT OF ACTION
A civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with a court.
2-302. PLEADINGS ALLOWED
There shall be a complaint and an answer. There may be a counterclaim, a cross-claim, and a third-party complaint. There shall be an answer to any counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party complaint. No other pleading shall be allowed except that the court may order a reply to an answer. Demurrers, pleas, and replications are abolished.
2-401. GENERAL PROVISIONS GOVERNING DISCOVERY
Parties may obtain discovery by one or more of the following methods:
- depositions upon oral examination or written questions,
- written interrogatories,
- production or inspection of documents or other tangible things or permission to enter upon land or other property,
- mental or physical examinations, and
- requests for admission of facts and genuineness of documents.
9-204. EDUCATIONAL SEMINAR
This Rule applies in an action in which child support, custody, or visitation is involved and the court determines to send the parties to an educational seminar designed to minimize disruptive effects of separation and divorce on the lives of children.
Cross-References. — Code, Family Law Article, 7-103.2.
Order to attend seminar.
- Subject to subsection (b) (2) of this Rule and as allowed or required by the county’s case management plan required by Rule 16-202 b., the court may order the parties to attend an educational seminar within the time set forth in the plan. The content of the seminar shall be as prescribed in section (c) of this Rule. If a party who has been ordered to attend a seminar fails to do so, the court may not use its contempt powers to compel attendance or to punish the party for failure to attend, but may consider the failure as a factor in determining custody and visitation.
- A party who
- is incarcerated,
- lives outside the State in a jurisdiction where a comparable seminar or course is not available, or
- establishes good cause for exemption may not be ordered to attend the seminar.
Committee note. — Code, Family Law Article, 7-103.2 (c)(2)(v) prohibits exemption based on evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect.
The seminar shall consist of one or two sessions, totaling six hours. Topics shall include:
- (1) the emotional impact of divorce on children and parents.
- developmental stages of children and the effects of divorce on children at different stages.
- changes in the parent-child relationship.
- transitions between households.
- skill-building in
- parental communication with children and with each other,
- explaining divorce to children,
- problem-solving and decision-making techniques,
- conflict resolution,
- coping strategies,
- helping children adjust to family changes,
- avoiding inappropriate interactions with the children, and
- developing constructive parenting arrangements; and
- resources available in cases of domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect.
The provider of the seminar shall establish scheduling procedures so that parties in actions where domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect is alleged do not attend the seminar at the same time and so that any party who does not wish to attend a seminar at the same time as the opposing party does not have to do so.
The fee for the seminar shall be set in accordance with Code, Courts Article, 7-202. Payment may be compelled by order of court and assessed among the parties as the court may direct. For good cause, the court may waive payment of the fee.
9-205. MEDIATION OF CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION DISPUTES
Scope of Rule.
This Rule applies to any case under this Chapter in which the custody of or visitation with a minor child is an issue, including an initial action to determine custody or visitation, an action to modify an existing order or judgment as to custody or visitation, and a petition for contempt by reason of non-compliance with an order or judgment governing custody or visitation.
Duty of court.
- Promptly after an action subject to this Rule is at issue, the court shall determine whether:
- mediation of the dispute as to custody or visitation is appropriate and would likely be beneficial to the parties or the child; and
- a properly qualified mediator is available to mediate the dispute.
- If a party or a child represents to the court in good faith that there is a genuine issue of physical or sexual abuse of the party or child, and that, as a result, mediation would be inappropriate, the court shall not order mediation.
- If the court concludes that mediation is appropriate and feasible, it shall enter an order requiring the parties to mediate the custody or visitation dispute. The order may stay some or all further proceedings in the action pending the mediation on terms and conditions set forth in the order.Cross-References. — With respect to subsection b (2) of this Rule, see Rule 1-341 and Rules 3.1 and 3.3 of the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct.
- Promptly after an action subject to this Rule is at issue, the court shall determine whether:
Scope of mediation.
- The court’s initial order may not require the parties to attend more than two mediation sessions. For good cause shown and upon the recommendation of the mediator, the court may order up to two additional mediation sessions. The parties may agree to further mediation.
- Mediation under this Rule shall be limited to the issues of custody and visitation unless the parties agree otherwise in writing.
If the parties agree on some or all of the disputed issues, the mediator may assist the parties in making a record of the points of agreement. The mediator shall provide copies of any memorandum of points of agreement to the parties and their attorneys for review and signature. If the memorandum is signed by the parties as submitted or as modified by the parties, a copy of the signed memorandum shall be sent to the mediator, who shall submit it to the court.
Committee note. — It is permissible for a mediator to make a brief record of points of agreement reached by the parties during the mediation and assist the parties in articulating those points in the form of a written memorandum, so that they are clear and accurately reflect the agreements reached. Mediators should act only as scribes recording the parties’ points of agreement, and not as drafters creating legal memoranda.
If no agreement.
If no agreement is reached or the mediator determines that mediation is inappropriate, the mediator shall so advise the court but shall not state the reasons. If the court does not order mediation or the case is returned to the court after mediation without an agreement as to all issues in the case, the court promptly shall schedule the case for hearing on any pendente lite or other appropriate relief not covered by a mediation agreement.
Confidentiality of mediation communications under this Rule is governed by Rule 17-109.
Cross-References. — For the definition of “mediation communication,” see Rule 17-102 (e).
Payment of the compensation, fees, and costs of a mediator may be compelled by order of court and assessed among the parties as the court may direct. In the order for mediation, the court may waive payment of the compensation, fees, and costs.
Cross-References. — For the qualifications and selection of mediators, see Rule 17-104.
Joint Property Statement
9-207. JOINT STATEMENT OF MARITAL AND NON-MARITAL PROPERTY
When a monetary award or other relief pursuant to Code, Family Law Article, 8-205 is an issue, the parties shall file a joint statement listing all property owned by one or both of them.
Form of property statement.
Time for filing; procedure.
The joint statement shall be filed at least ten days before the scheduled trial date or by any earlier date fixed by the court. At least 30 days before the joint statement is due to be filed, each party shall prepare and serve on the other party a proposed statement in the form set forth in section (b) of this Rule. At least 15 days before the joint statement is due, the plaintiff shall sign and serve on the defendant for approval and signature a proposed joint statement that fairly reflects the positions of the parties. The defendant shall timely file the joint statement, which shall be signed by the defendant or shall be accompanied by a written statement of the specific reasons why the defendant did not sign.
If a party fails to comply with this Rule, the court, on motion or on its own initiative, may enter any orders in regard to the noncompliance that are just, including:
- an order that property shall be classified as marital or non-marital in accordance with the statement filed by the complying party.
- an order refusing to allow the noncomplying party to oppose designated assertions on the complying party’s statement filed pursuant to this Rule, or prohibiting the noncomplying party from introducing designated matters in evidence.
Instead of or in addition to any order, the court, after opportunity for hearing, shall require the noncomplying party or the attorney advising the noncompliance or both of them to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, caused by the noncompliance, unless the court finds that the noncompliance was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.
A judgment granting a divorce, an annulment, or alimony may be entered only upon testimony in person before an examiner or magistrate or in open court. In an uncontested case, testimony shall be taken before an examiner or magistrate unless the court directs otherwise. Testimony of a corroborating witness shall be oral unless otherwise ordered by the court for good cause.