If you are involved in a custody/access/child support case in Maryland,
you or the other parent may request a temporary hearing, referred to as
a Pendente Lite (“PL”) hearing before a Magistrate. A Magistrate
is not a Judge, but under Maryland rules, may take testimony under limited
circumstances such as a request for a PL order regarding custody/access
and child support. Usually the hearing is set for a limited time period
not more than 2 hours. The parties and witnesses may be heard, and written
evidence may be submitted. At the conclusion of the PL hearing the Magistrate
will issue written findings of fact and a recommendation to the Judge
of the Circuit Court regarding any and all issues raised at the PL hearing.
Either party may, within 10 days of the issuance of the recommendations,
file what is referred to as ‘exceptions”. The exceptions filing
must state the reason for the filing along with a request for the Circuit
Court to review the findings of the magistrate. When exceptions are filed
the filing party must obtain at a cost of typically $200-$400 a copy of
the transcript of the hearing so the court will have an opportunity to
review the case. After the filing of the case and the transcript an exceptions
hearing will be held before a Circuit Court Judge. Exceptions hearings
are usually set for 1 hour.
The parties will have an opportunity, typically through their lawyers if
they are represented, to convince the Judge that the Magistrate made a
reversable error in the findings of fact and recommendation. It is typical,
but not required, that the Judge will issues his/her decision from the
bench immediately after the hearing. The Judge can affirm the decision
in which case the recommendations of the Magistrate will be accepted,
and the Order signed. Alternatively, the Judge may issue his/her own Order
or may send the case back to the Magistrate for further consideration.
Should you have any questions about this or any family law matters please
call the Law Office of Nicholas T. Exarhakis for a free telephone consultation.