Maryland Family Law and Divorce Lawyers
When you are dealing with the emotional strain of a separation, divorce, child custody battle or other family law issues, understanding Maryland laws can feel overwhelming. In the midst of so many major life changes, some people fail to take stock of all of their options or learn their rights and responsibilities.
However, this may be the most important time in your life to understand the law. To help you during this trying time, we have gathered some crucial information about Maryland family and divorce laws. Use this information to protect yourself and your family.
What is Family Law in Maryland?
Family law cases are some of the most complex and time-consuming cases in civil law. They involve situations with high emotion, like divorce, division of property, spousal support, child custody, child support, protective orders and sometimes even domestic violence, abuse and neglect.
For the individuals dealing with family law cases, it can be an extremely stressful experience. There may be serious financial, legal and mental health concerns for all parties involved. Any misstep during this time can endanger your and your children’s futures.
These cases require the help from an experienced family law attorney who can provide you the understanding of how to skillfully navigate the ins and outs of the law. Each case should be carefully prepared to go to trial, while still keeping settlement in mind as an option. Your attorney will help you explore all possible legal routes that are in the best interest for your unique situation.
Understanding Grounds For Divorce in Maryland
In order to file for divorce in Maryland, you will need to explain your separation to the court. These explanations are called the “grounds for divorce,” and range from infidelity to desertion to a spouse’s conviction of a crime.
Maryland divorce law accepts many grounds for divorce, including a “no-fault” reasoning that only requires the couple to live separately for a period of time. Couples that do not have minor children can also obtain an absolute divorce by providing a mutually agreed-upon separation agreement that finalizes every element of their separation.
For more information on filing for divorce and providing an explanation to the court, read our article on grounds for divorce in Maryland.
“Jana Poczak is an incredible attorney. She represented my interests without compromise and at the same time handled negotiations diplomatically and respectfully so that we all emerged with a desirable outcome. I highly recommend Jana and her team at Zirkin & Schmerling!”
Two Types of Divorce In Maryland
There are two types of divorce in Maryland: absolute divorce and limited divorce. A limited divorce simply means that the couple decides to live apart and separate their assets. It is not permanent and can be reversed.
Absolute divorce, on the other hand, is very permanent. It finalizes the division of assets and allows both spouses to remarry later if they choose to do so. Because this is a serious and impactful decision, the court requires more serious grounds be established before it will grant an absolute divorce.
Grounds for an absolute divorce may include adultery, a separation longer than 12 months, excessively vicious conduct or a felony conviction. Read more in our article about types of divorce in Maryland.
The Impact of Child Custody Laws in Maryland
Child custody cases are extremely emotional for everyone involved. You are rightfully concerned about what will happen to your children and how often you will be able to see them after the divorce. Your children will also have questions, and you may be unsure about how to answer them.
With expert legal assistance, you can begin to find the answers you need. Divorce law in Maryland gives parents plenty of ways to be involved in their children’s lives.
Physical custody, also known as access, determines how much time the child spends with each parent and how much child support is owed. It outlines the child’s day-to-day experiences and provides guidance on issues like where they will sleep and which holidays will be spent with which parent.
Legal custody involves the rights of parents to make decisions for their children, such as their child’s school, medical care or doctor and religious practices. Under Maryland law, the parent with legal custody has the final say on these matters.
Both physical and legal custody can be primarily assigned to one parent or shared between both parents, depending on the family situation. Parents who are able to make joint decisions in their child’s best interest are often granted equal legal custody over their children.
To learn more about how courts determine custody after a divorce, read our in-depth article on custody law in Maryland.
Grandparent Rights in Maryland
In terms of grandparent rights, Maryland makes no presumption in favor of grandparent visitation. Parents can petition the court for reasonable visitation with grandparents, but the court will rule in favor of the best interests of the child.
Visitation or custody can be awarded to a third party, including grandparents, as part of a child custody case. If you are a grandparent searching for help obtaining custody of a grandchild, contact Zirkin & Schmerling as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Child Support According to Divorce Laws in Maryland
Parents also often wonder if they will need to pay child support before and after a divorce. Under divorce law in Maryland, every parent is required to support their child financially until they reach the legal age of adulthood.
If the parents have separated or divorced, the court sets an amount for one parent to pay to the other. Courts draw this determination from many factors, such as each parent’s income and the cost of basic needs like healthcare.
Maryland child support law provides a comprehensive set of guidelines for establishing how much each parent should reasonably pay to provide for their child’s needs. However, each case is unique, and over time child support orders may need to be modified to include changes in income, new medical needs for an ill child and other life events.
Having knowledgeable legal counsel on your side is very important in child support matters. See our article on child support in Maryland for more information.
“Because of Jana our family is whole! My husband was able to legally adopt my oldest child and just in time for the holidays!!! She made this experience such a special and heart warmer one! She updated us on our case and progress weekly and was constantly in communication with us. I can never thank her enough for all the hard work (and paperwork) she has done for my family. My son is so proud to be my husband’s legal son and to be a Braxton just like his youngest brother! We all have the same last name as well and that means so much! Thank you so much Jana! We will always be grateful for all you have done! You are truly an amazing person and miracle worker!”
Protect your children, family and future. Contact our Family Law attorney to schedule a case evaluation today.
Division of Property in a Maryland Divorce
Maryland is an equitable distribution state. This means that the Court will make an “equitable,” as opposed to an “equal” distribution of property after a couple has divorced. The goal is fairness rather than a straight 50/50 split in monetary value.
Any property that was owned prior to the marriage is considered non-marital property. Courts do not consider non-marital property when deciding how to split up the marital estate. Marital property includes all property obtained during the marriage, no matter who paid for it or how it is titled.
Of course, all property titled as tenants by the entirety, such as the marital home, is considered marital property. Property may be divided either by agreement between the parties or through equitable distribution by the court.
Every division of property case is different, and you may have a special situation that requires a high level of legal expertise. You need an attorney who will work hard for you to ensure that you obtain a fair distribution of your assets.
“Worked with Jana to resolve details resolving disputes after an acrimonious divorce. She was professional, counseled me when I was acting against my own financial best interests. She was fair in her billing and don’t feel I was ever charged unnecessarily. I would use her again, I just hope I never need her again!”
Contact Us for Maryland Family Law and Divorce Cases
If you want to protect your interests and build a solid case, you need to have a complete understanding of divorce law in Maryland. Zirkin & Schmerling Law is here to answer all of your questions about this challenging period in your life. To learn more about the divorce process or speak to one of our experienced attorneys, call 410-753-4611.
We can help with divorce, child custody, and many other family law matters. Contact our Family Law attorney to schedule a case evaluation today.