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Family Law FAQs

Answers to Family Law in Owings Mills

Does Maryland allow no-fault divorce?

Maryland allows both no-fault and fault-based divorce. No-fault divorce is available after the spouses voluntarily live separate and apart for one year without interruption or after the spouses, voluntarily or involuntarily, live separate and apart for two years without interruption. Fault-based divorce is available in cases involving adultery; insanity; desertion (if the desertion is deliberate, final, has continued for 12 months without interruption, and there is no reasonable expectation that the spouses can reconcile); cruelty or excessively vicious conduct toward the complaining party with no reasonable expectation of reconciliation; or a spouse's conviction of a crime if he or she has been sentenced to serve at least three years or an indeterminate sentence in a penal institution and has served at least one year of that sentence.

What are grounds for a limited divorce in Maryland?

To obtain a limited divorce, a party must prove that the other spouse is guilty of any of the following actions:

  • cruelty of treatment of the complaining party or of the complaining party's minor child or children;
  • excessively vicious conduct toward the complaining party or toward the complaining party's minor child or children;
  • desertion; or
  • voluntary separation, if the parties are living separate and apart without cohabitation and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.

What are grounds for an absolute divorce in Maryland?

To obtain an absolute divorce, the party filing the petition must prove that the other spouse is guilty of any of the following actions.

  • adultery;
  • desertion, if the desertion is deliberate, final, and has continued for 12 months without interruption;
  • voluntary separation, if the parties have lived separate and apart voluntarily for 12 uninterrupted months;
  • conviction of a felony or misdemeanor in any state or federal court if the defendant has been sentenced to serve at least three years or an indeterminate sentence in a penal institution, and has served one year of the sentence;
  • two-year separation, when the parties have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for two years without interruption;
  • insanity, if the insane spouse has been confined in a mental institution, hospital, or other similar institution for at least three years and the court determines from the testimony of at least two physicians who are competent in psychiatry that the insanity is incurable and there is no hope of recovery; and
  • one of the parties has been a Maryland resident for at least two years;
  • cruelty of treatment of the complaining party or of the complaining party's minor child or children;
  • excessively vicious conduct toward the complaining party or toward the complaining party's minor child or children.

Other grounds that the court might consider before granting an absolute divorce decree are recrimination, res judicata, and condonation.

What is a restraining order?

A restraining order, known as a protective order in Maryland, is a court order intended to protect you from physical pain or injury or the threat of pain or injury, abuse, or harassment from someone who has hurt you frequently, and to keep such person away from you, your home, or your work place. It generally is issued against a family member, a household member (anyone with whom you live or formerly lived), or someone you have dated recently.

A protective order directs the person who may be hurting you to stop hitting, threatening, harming, or harassing you in any way. It also can order the person to stay away from you or refrain from coming within a set distance of you, your home, or your workplace.

What is the difference between a temporary protective order and a permanent protective order?

A temporary protective order is issued for a short length of time, usually a few weeks to a month. A permanent protective order is active for more than one month, and may last for months or years. Permanent protective orders can be renewed or extended if the person requesting the order remains in danger of being subjected to abusive or harassing behavior when the original order expires.

What are my rights to money and property when my marriage ends? What happens to investments and similar assets?

The court determines the ownership of the marital real property and may either grant a decree specifying each party's ownership interest or, if any property is owned by both of the parties, order a partition or sale. An order directing a sale usually orders a division of the sale proceeds. The court may grant one of the parties sole possession and use of the property or may divide the possession and use of the property between the parties.

The court may transfer ownership of an interest in pension, retirement, profit sharing, or deferred compensation plans from one party to the other or to both parties.

What is a pre-nuptial agreement?

A pre-nuptial agreement is a contract that is negotiated and signed by a couple before their marriage and that addresses divorce issues, such as property division, child custody, and alimony.

Is alimony the same as child support? If not, can the court grant both simultaneously?

Alimony is paid to support a spouse or former spouse. Child support is paid, usually to the custodial parent, to support the minor children. Both can be granted because each serves a different purpose.

Is alimony and child support taxable?

Alimony is taxable to the recipient and deductible from the income of the payor. Child support is neither taxable nor deductible.

How long is the legal divorce process?

The length of the divorce process varies, depending on an individual case's particular issues and the parties' willingness to resolve differences. Divorces that include marital property, custody, and child support issues usually take longer than cases without those issues. A case can be resolved quickly if the parties agree on the issues, either on their own or with the help of a mediator, or if they have a valid pre-nuptial agreement that addresses all the issues.

Have more questions regarding family law? Contact the Law Office of Kent L. Greenberg today at (410) 363-1020 for a consultation.

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