What is a Standing Examiner?
A Standing Examiner is appointed to take testimony and evidence in an uncontested divorce case and to make recommendations to the Court as to whether or not the statutory grounds have been met to grant a divorce.
What Does a Standing Examiner Do?
By the Court, or by either parties own initiative, a Standing Examiner is referred to a case. Not only does a Standing Examiner take testimony and admissible evidence during a hearing scheduled with them in regards to a case, but they are able to:
Issue a subpoena to compel the attendance of witnesses to a hearing and for the production of documents or other tangible items.
Administer oaths to witnesses and examine witnesses.
Convene, continue, or adjourn the scheduled hearing, as needed.
Recommend to the Court that contempt proceedings occur or other sanctions be awarded.
All proceedings in front of a Standing Examiner must be recorded by a stenographer or by an electronic recording device. That is, unless the Court orders this to not occur. Any proceedings must then be transcribed and then filed with the Court. When the taking of testimony occurs, the Standing Examiner must remain in the room the entire time.
After the proceedings and recommendations are provided, there are ten (10) days in which the record is available for inspection by both parties. Within the ten (10) days, if either party does not agree with the accuracy, completeness, or authenticity of the record, or they are looking to present the court their objections that were made before the Standing Examiner, that party may file Exceptions. Exceptions need to be in writing, and state exactly what error in the record was found. If other matters are brought up, concerns or disputes that were not specifically submitted in the exceptions, those matters are waived, unless the Court finds that justice requires otherwise. The Court may or may not give leave for an Exceptions Hearing.
Why have a Hearing with a Standing Examiner?
There is one advantage to presenting your uncontested divorce case before a Standing Examiner rather than appearing in Court before a judge, and that is convenience. Hearings are usually scheduled much faster and possibly more conveniently for the scheduling party. When scheduling a Hearing with a Standing Examiner, the Hearing takes place in a private office setting, usually, and is less formal and not in a public court setting.
Scheduling Appointments with a Standing Examiner
In an uncontested divorce case, when one party files a Complaint for Limited or Absolute Divorce with the Court, and then the other party files their Answer with the Court, and this Answer is uncontested (or when they agreed with the first parties’ complaint) the Plaintiff, who filed the Complaint, will need to contact one of the counties Standing Examiners to schedule an appointment for them to take their testimony.
After the Plaintiff schedules the appointment, they then must send a letter via first-class mail (not certified mail) to the Defendant’s last known address, notifying them of the hearing date and time, along with the location. This must be done by at least seven (7) days prior to the hearing date.
The Plaintiff must bring their marriage certificate, as well as a witness (not their spouse) to the Hearing. If the marriage certificate is not readily available, their witness must be able to corroborate their marriage. The witness must have knowledge of the following facts:
The Plaintiff and/or the Defendant have been Maryland residents for more than one year prior to the Plaintiff filing their Complaint.
That both parties lived together as husband and wife prior to their separation.
The date of both parties’ separation, as well as the circumstances of the separation.
That both parties have lived separate and apart since the date of separation, without cohabitation.
The Standing Examiner takes the Plaintiff’s testimony and of the corroborating witness. Afterwards, the Standing Examiner writes up their Recommendations, and a judge makes the final decision on the matter.
If either party disagrees with the Standing Examiner’s recommendations, they need to file a Notice of Intention to file Exceptions, and when the Recommendations are filed for a Judge to then review and make their decision, then that party needs to file Exceptions within ten days of the Recommendations being filed.
Recently, Fanning Law, LLC’s Mr. William C. Fanning, Jr., was appointed as a Standing Examiner by the Circuit Court of Charles County. We are extremely proud for him to be appointed to this honorable position, and cannot wait to utilize our twenty-five (25) years of legal experience in these legal matters.
Fanning Law, LLC Can Help
We assist individuals and families with family law issues and other legal concerns in Southern Maryland, Washington DC, and throughout the region. For more information about how Fanning Law, LLC can help you and your family, contact Bill Fanning at Fanning Law, LLC - The Offices of William C. Fanning, Jr. - 301.934.3620 or at www.fanninglawllc.com.