The Truth Behind Common Myths About Divorce Law in Maryland
Divorce law is complex and is periodically redesigned. There are also plenty of misconceptions about divorce law, which further complicates matters. Your best source for accurate, up-to-date information is a family attorney in Owings Mills. Ahead of your initial consultation, write a list of your questions and concerns.
Myth: Assets listed under one spouse’s name are off-limits.
Your family lawyer may ask you to bring a complete list of assets to your consultation. This allows him or her to give you an estimate of how the judge will likely divide your property. One common misconception is that anything solely listed in the name of one spouse cannot be divided among both spouses. In fact, a Maryland court can order the redistribution of any marital asset. In other words, if a spouse purchased a truck during the marriage, it is considered a marital asset and it can be included in a marital property award.
Myth: Retirement assets cannot be divided.
Similarly, retirement assets are considered to be marital property if they were earned during the course of the marriage. This means that the court may redistribute a 401(k) pension plan, IRA, military pension plan, or other retirement assets.
Myth: Spouses can be separated, but live in the same house.
Maryland divorce law is among the strictest in the country. Before you can finalize a divorce, you and your spouse may be required to undergo a one-year separation. It’s often thought that spouses can legally be considered separated as long as they sleep in separate bedrooms. In most cases, spouses can only be considered separated if they maintain separate residences for 12 consecutive months. During this time, the spouses must also abstain from marital relations.
Myth: Legal separation is always required before an absolute divorce.
Maryland recently revamped its divorce laws to make it easier for some spouses to obtain an absolute divorce without enduring a 12-month separation. Spouses who do not share children in common and who work out a divorce settlement agreement that resolves all involved issues can be granted an absolute divorce much more quickly.
How Do Courts Determine Alimony?
When you consult a family attorney in Owings Mills, one of the questions you will be asked is whether you plan to seek spousal support or alimony . If not, your divorce attorney will consider the likelihood that the court will order you to pay alimony to your soon-to-be ex-spouse. The court has broad discretion in deciding whether to award alimony. The judge will consider all relevant factors to establish a fair and equitable award.
It’s always best to consult a divorce attorney before making any agreements directly with your spouse or your spouse’s lawyer. If you sign any agreement regarding spousal support, the court is likely to be bound by the terms of that document. And after a divorce is finalized, you forfeit your right to seek alimony. For example, if you signed an agreement stating that you would not seek alimony and the court is bound by this agreement, you cannot request spousal support later on.
When considering whether to order alimony payments, the court is likely to consider marital factors such as the length of the marriage. There is generally a greater likelihood of awarding alimony if the marriage was substantial in duration. The court might also consider the circumstances that led to the breakdown of the marriage.
The financial resources of each spouse will be carefully considered in every alimony decision. The court will consider the assets and needs of each spouse. For instance, if one spouse demonstrates a need for spousal support, the judge will consider the ability of the other spouse to pay alimony. The standard of living that each spouse enjoyed during the marriage is another relevant factor. The judge can also consider the monetary contributions that each spouse made to the family during the marriage.
It is not uncommon for one spouse to demonstrate a poor earning history during the marriage if that spouse agreed to relocate or otherwise stop working for the sake of the career of the other spouse. Because of this and other factors, the judge will consider each spouse’s earning history in light of his or her earning capacity. In some cases, one spouse is awarded rehabilitative alimony, which is intended to provide for education or vocational training to improve the earning capacity of that spouse.
How to Break the News of Divorce to Your Spouse
It isn’t easy to inform your spouse that you want a divorce , even if both of you can clearly see that the marriage is deteriorating. If you fear that your spouse will have a dangerous or violent reaction to the news, it’s best to have the discussion in a public place. You can also protect yourself by consulting a lawyer in Owings Mills ahead of time. Even if you do not fear that your spouse will have an intense reaction, you should take some time to prepare for the discussion.
Watch this featured video to get some practical tips on discussing divorce. It recommends writing out what you want to say in advance because this gives you an emotional outlet and allows you to clarify what you want to say. Avoid discussing the details of the divorce until you’ve had a chance to meet with your family lawyer. Try to avoid assigning blame for the divorce and allow your spouse plenty of time to respond.
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