Maryland/D.C. Divorce: The Importance of Evidence

different types of evidence that are collected for a case

Some think that evidence is only important in a divorce proceeding if your case goes to trial. That is a myth since evidence is important in “working up” a divorce case in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Most divorce cases settle long before trial, and collecting and marshaling evidence is the most crucial means of bringing the parties to an agreement. Of course, there are arcane and complicated legal rules with respect to what evidence is admissible at trial. Thus, if you are thinking of obtaining a divorce in Maryland or D.C., you should retain experienced Maryland and DC divorce attorneys like those at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl, who have a deep understanding of the divorce laws in both jurisdictions.

Evidence can come in many forms: eye-witness testimony, opinion reports and testimony, bank and other types of records, photos, videos, and more. The process of collecting evidence begins before a divorce case is filed and continues throughout the proceedings. Evidence is used by the divorce courts to make their decisions on how the divorce is finalized. Some evidence is agreed upon, and other evidence is disputed. When evidence is disputed, one function of the divorce courts is to look at the disputed evidence and decide which version is more likely correct.

As an example, let’s look at a court’s decision about dividing the spouses’ marital property. The spouses will likely agree that certain property is “marital property” subject to equitable division. But, even so, the evidence — agreed upon — must still be presented to the court. So, documents and other evidence related to the marital home, the spouses’ vehicles, the furnishing, and other things must be gathered and presented to the court. In the court’s Final Order dissolving the marriage, the court will use this evidence to award certain property to one spouse and other property to the other spouse.

Now, imagine that the parties dispute that certain property is “separate property” which belongs to one spouse or the other. Let’s say the property in question is the contents of a bank account. Evidence will be needed to prove that the bank account is “separate property.” Evidence that might help prove that include bank records, testimony from the spouses, etc. Based on the legal rules for how “separate property” is defined, the court will ultimately look at the evidence, apply the rules, and decide whether the bank account is “separate” or “marital” property.

But good Maryland and D.C. divorce attorneys know the legal rules, too. One important rule concerning “separate” property is that it cannot be commingled with marital property — like wages and income. Thus, if the evidence shows that wages and income were deposited into our hypothetical financial account during the marriage, that account has becomemarital property even if it was separate at one point. This will be explained to the spouse who insists that the account be separate. It will also be explained that the spouse “will lose the argument” if it is presented to the judge. In this manner, evidence will cause clients to abandon legally untenable arguments, reducing issues of disagreement between the parties. This is an example of how evidence in a divorce case can help the spouses reach a settlement.

Maryland And D.C. Family Law Attorneys

Contact the seasoned and experienced Maryland and D.C. family law lawyers at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl for more information. We have the skills and expertise you need. We have proven experience with family law for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Schedule a consultation today or call us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We have offices in Columbia, MD, and Washington, DC.