In Maryland, if you do not like a Judge’s decision you have a few options to try and have the matter overturned. These options are:
- Motion to Reconsider
- In Banc Review
- Appeal to the Court of Special Appeals
Motion to Reconsider
You have thirty days from the date that the Clerk of the Court enters the Divorce Order into the docket to request that the same Judge alter or amend their judgment. The most successful way to have your Motion to Reconsider granted is if new facts or circumstances have occurred and it is clearly in the children’s best interests that the Judgment is changed immediately.
If the Motion to Reconsider is denied, you can still file an appeal to the Court of Special Appeals.
In Banc Review
You have ten days from the date that the Clerk enters the Divorce Order to request an In banc Review. There are a few procedural rules for this option to be considered including ordering a transcript of every hearing pertaining to the disputed issues and to file an appellate Memorandum arguing your positions. The big differences between an In Banc Review and a traditional appeal is that the review is heard by three Judges of the same Court as opposed to Judges from the appellate courts, and the In Banc is faster and costs less. There are disadvantages to taking an In Banc Appeal. For example: you waive your rights to file an appeal to the Court of Special Appeals. The best way to decide if you should file an In Banc Review is to discuss your situation with an attorney.
Appeal to the Court of Special Appeals
You have thirty days from the date that the Clerk enters the Divorce Order (or a denial of the Motion to Reconsider if one was filed) to file a Notice of Appeal. The Rules for this procedure are complex and detailed and it is your burden to prove that the trial Judge erred as a matter of law or that there was not substantial evidence on the record to support the Judge’s findings. If you file an appeal, the Court of Special Appeals Alternative Dispute Resolution division will require you to attend at least one four-hour mediation session with an attorney/mediator who works for the Court of Specials Appeals and a retired judge. There is no cost for the mediation beyond paying for your own attorney’s fees and the mediation session is held at the judiciary offices in Annapolis.
Without a settlement, the appellate process can be very long. It can easily take one to two years after an appeal has been filed before a ruling is made. If the appeal is not settled, the Court of Special Appeals will either affirm (uphold) the lower court’s decision, or remand (in full or in part) the lower court’s decision requiring the lower court to retry the case (in full or in part).
If you do not like the Court of Special Appeals decision, you may file a Writ of Certiorari asking the highest court in Maryland (Court of Appeals) to weigh in. It is up to the Court of Appeals if they want to hear your case or not.
Appeals are different from Court Order Modifications
If minor children are involved, the decision relating to custody/visitation and child support are always modifiable until the child turns 18. If you want to file a modification of custody/visitation and/or child support you must prove there is a material change of circumstance before the court will even entertain whether or not a modification is in the child’s best interest.