DIVORCE IN MARYLAND
Generally, a divorce in Maryland that consists of any significant amount of property and/or children results in a contested divorce. A contested divorce in Maryland can be resolved amicably, provided both parties attempt to resolve the issues of property and custody in an equitable manner. How contested a divorce case in Maryland is going to be is in great part determined by the parties and the divorce lawyer each party chooses to represent them. More often than not, the opposing attorney in a contested divorce case in Maryland will play a great role in how amicably a contested divorce can be resolved. This in turn will determine how expensive or inexpensive the contested divorce in Maryland will be for the parties.
How your specific case will proceed will greatly be determined by the specific facts of your case. The divorce laws in Maryland are complex. If you have questions about how the divorce laws in Maryland apply to the specific facts of your divorce case, do not hesitate to contact us.
Our attorneys in Maryland will do their best to assist you with your divorce. Please call us via our toll free number – 888-437-7747.
The Law Offices of SRIS, P.C. has client meeting locations & lawyers to assist you with your divorce in Maryland to better serve you: Rockville, MD. (Montgomery County) & Baltimore, MD.
MARYLAND DIVORCE ATTORNEYS
Our Maryland attorneys are frequently asked questions about different divorce issues in Maryland. We hope that the information you find herein answer some of your basic questions regarding divorces in Maryland. After you read this, if you wish to talk to our Maryland lawyers about your divorce in Maryland, please feel free to call us at 888-437-7747. We are here to help you and fight for you if necessary.
The lawyers of SRIS, P.C. have client meeting locations in the following states :
Maryland: Rockville, MD. (Montgomery County) & Baltimore, MD.
The Separation of the Parties In Maryland
As a general rule, parties cannot be deemed to be living separate and apart with the intent of remaining permanently separate and apart if they are both residing in the martial residence. If either spouse wants a divorce, the odds are, they are going to get a divorce. The real question is on what terms is the party desiring the divorce going to get it. If your spouse wants a divorce and wants you to move out of the marital home, perhaps refusing your spouse’s demands may be in your best interests. Refusing to move out may cause your spouse to agree to your terms for the divorce. Ultimately, the party who wants a divorce the most is the one who is willing to agree to almost any terms to get a divorce. Keep this in mind as you try to negotiate a property settlement and custody of the child(ren)
One caveat we always tell our clients is: the threat or possibility of danger of remaining in the marital home. Nothing is more important than being safe. If the other party has a history of physical violence or you have reason to believe that if you do not move out, the other party will hurt you, then you probably should leave.
The person who leaves the marital home without an express agreement that the parties have mutually agreed to separate may suffer some dire consequences in court. If you leave the marital residence, the Court may award custody of the children to the parent staying in the marital residence. This award of custody is initially awarded pending the final divorce hearing. However, as a general rule, divorce courts are averse to change the status quo. Thus, the parent who received the initial award of custody is the person who is most likely going to be the primary physical custodian of the child(ren). Additionally, the party leaving the marital home may be accused of abandoning the marital home. Keep in mind, that if you leave the marital home and don’t try to see your children frequently, this too may have negative consequences. During the pending divorce action, the visitation you have with your child(ren) may be dramatically limited. The party staying in the home may be awarded exclusive use and possession of the marital residence. The bottom line is what you do at the start of the separation process of the divorce will most likely have a long term impact as to how your divorce turns out. This is one of the main reasons you need excellent counsel right from the start from an experienced divorce attorney who almost exclusively handles contested divorces. Please keep in mind that divorce attorneys who practice other types of law are probably not as up to date with the new divorce laws that the courts have recently ruled upon.
The financial situation of the parties in Maryland
If you want to ensure that the marital assets are not wasted by the other party, make sure you are in control of all financial accounts and credit cards. Also, make sure you are in control of any form of credit that you may become liable for if used by the other party. Taking control is very easy. Simply transfer all assets of the marriage to a completely new and separate account that only you have access to. As a law professor once said, “it is a lot easier to give than to get.” The person who controls all the assets negotiates from a great position of strength. Remember a contested divorce can be costly and very few attorneys work for free.
Things not to do during the separation in Maryland:
DO NOT DO THINGS YOU WILL BE EMBARRASSED ABOUT IF IT COMES OUT DURING THE TRIAL.
Try not to date anyone. We understand that when you are going through a divorce, you may be emotionally upset and want solace. However, what you do during the separation may affect how the Court decides custody of the child(ren), if custody is at issue. Also, if you spend marital assets (property, money, etc. accumulated during the marriage) on your new “friend”, this may affect how the divorce Court determines the ultimate distribution of marital property. The Maryland lawyers at the Law Offices of SRIS, P.C. is here to help you. Listen to us and we will do our best to make this difficult time in your life as smooth as possible.
How does the legal aspect of the divorce start Maryland?
The first step is to file a pleading asking for a divorce. This is a legal document requesting the Court to grant you a divorce. Your spouse will then be served with this document by either a law enforcement authorized to serve process or a private process server. Generally, we prefer to use a private process server if we believe the party being served with a divorce is going to try and avoid service. Once the initial divorce papers are served, then your spouse has to determine how badly they are going to fight the divorce. Most people after being served with divorce papers think they have to get the nastiest divorce lawyer in town. This is a mistake. All this is going to do is end up costing both parties a lot of money and help put the nasty lawyer’s child through college. We recommend our clients to try and talk to the other spouse in a civil manner and attempt to reach a settlement. Before you go and talk to your spouse, we will advise you as to what a fair settlement is and what you can expect if you go to trial. If your spouse is reasonable and your spouse listens to your proposal, then he or she may agree or ask for time to go talk to their lawyer. Again, if and it is a big IF, the lawyer is reasonable and willing to give good advice to their client, both parties may be able to settle most of the divorce issues, if not all of the issues. However, if the other side chooses to be unreasonable in their demands regarding the divorce, there is only one option. GO TO COURT.
What to expect when you come in for your consultation in Maryland?
When you talk with a SRIS, P.C. Maryland lawyer about your divorce in Maryland, try to have an idea as to the value of the separate and marital assets and liabilities. Also, try to have an idea as to how you wish to have custody resolved if you have child(ren).
What will we talk about during our first consultation in Maryland?
First and foremost, we are here to help. You can count on us to be honest with you. We are not the type of lawyer who tells a client what they want to hear so that they can be hired. We will do our best to make the process as easy as possible, both financially and emotionally. We will listen to you and help you identify what is in your best interests. We will not aggressively promote going to court. This does not mean we are scared of trying cases. We simply do not want you to incur unnecessary costs. However, if your spouse is unreasonable or simply nasty and bitter, then we will gladly take the matter to court. Our goal is to help you get a fair resolution and get a divorce.
To settle or not settle your divorce case in Maryland?
No one can force you to settle. Only you can determine if a divorce settlement is acceptable.
What can I expect once the divorce process starts in Maryland?
One of the first things we will generally do is file a request for discovery in a divorce action. We use the discovery process in a divorce action to flesh out the information you give us. In turn, you will be asked to respond to a discovery request by the other party’s attorney.
There may be an entry of a temporary order. This will usually address the issues of who will stay in the marital home while the divorce is pending; what will be the custody arrangement while the divorce is pending; what support if any is awarded while the divorce is pending; etc.
During this entire process, the parties through their divorce attorneys will be trying to reach a settlement. However, after trying your best to settle the outstanding issues of the divorce, then there is only solution. Let the judge decide. The judge will hear all the issues regarding the divorce and make a determination as to custody, property, support, etc. All of the judge’s ruling will then be written up in the final decree of divorce. The final decree of divorce is an order of the court. Failure to abide by it may result in sanctions to the party disobeying the court’s order.
What do you do if you disagree with the Court’s ruling in Maryland?
You can always appeal the court’s ruling if you think it is not fair. We will advise you as to our opinion regarding the judge’s ruling. However, the ultimate determination as to whether an appeal is filed is always left up to the client. If you accept the court’s ruling and later wish to modify either the issues of support or custody, then you may request a modification provided there is grounds for a modification.
Granting Alimony In Divorce Proceedings In Maryland
Once a couple decides to divorce and starts the actual legal dissolution of marriage proceedings, either one may ask the court for interim financial support. This request is known as pendente lite – or “pending litigation.” This order is often used to provide for the support of a lower-income spouse while the legal process moves ahead.
After the divorce is final, either party may ask for post-marital alimony. Alimony is not an absolute right. The court will determine if alimony is justified by looking at the circumstances surrounding both the divorce and the divorcing couple.
If one party has received interim support, this financial obligation is not automatically extended after the dissolution becomes official. The reasons for granting support before the marriage ended may have changed after the divorce has become final.
The parties may decide on certain terms in their divorce case in a mutually agreeable manner – signing a binding agreement or legal document to that effect. This can include any alimony payments. If the couple does not have such an agreement, or cannot or will not come to terms, the court will step in, making a fair determination based on the facts and testimony submitted by both parties.
This determination is not set in stone – it can be modified when circumstances change, and one party gives the other proper notice and applies to the court for a re-hearing. However, unless there are compelling reasons, courts are generally reluctant to modify a prior existing agreement.
In some jurisdictions, the court always has authority in granting maintenance should one of the former spouses become a public charge – needing public assistance for the basic necessities of life.
Comparing Alimony and Child Support In Maryland
These are two separate arrangements. Alimony is not the same as child support. In child support, one parent is required to contribute financially in order to help raise (support) his or her children, by making structured payments to the child’s other parent or guardian.
Alimony and Taxes In Maryland
Unlike child support, alimony is treated as income to the receiving spouse, and can be taken as a deduction by the person paying. Child support is viewed as payments a parent makes for the support of their own offspring, and can’t be claimed as income or taken as a deduction.
Enforcing Alimony Payments In Maryland
Here is another area where there is a big difference between child support and alimony payments to an ex-spouse. In many states, non-payment of child support is treated as a criminal matter. The defaulting parent can have a host of legal sanctions placed against them, including loss of driver’s or professional licenses as well as actual prison time.
Alimony is treated as a civil matter. Someone trying to recover back alimony can only use the collection procedures available to any other general creditor. They can hire a collection agency to try and recover the funds, or instigate civil proceedings. If the spouse who’s defaulted on the alimony payments has no real assets to seize, the suing partner may get a judgment – but precious little else.
Courts we cover in Anne Arundel, Maryland
Anne Arundel County Circuit Court
P.O. Box 71,
7 Church Circle,
Annapolis, MD 21401
Anne Arundel County District Court
Robert F. Sweeney Building,
251 Rowe Boulevard,
Annapolis, MD 21401.
These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group. They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions. The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content.