Given the consistently high divorce rates in modern times, many couples consider it prudent to establish a prenuptial agreement before the wedding. A prenup can protect both spouses, although each of them should consult their own family lawyer in Owings Mills before signing the document. If the marriage doesn’t last, a divorce attorney can offer state-specific guidance regarding the impact of the prenup on the divorce settlement.
The Benefits of a Prenup
Divorce doesn’t always have to be a long, drawn-out process filled with arguments and ill will. Divorce mediation is a viable alternative, and having a prenuptial agreement in place may make mediation more likely to succeed. That’s because a prenup can take care of many of the issues that need to be settled before a divorce is finalized. Even if mediation doesn’t succeed in settling the rest of the issues, or if you and your spouse would rather not try mediation, having a prenup in place can lessen the headaches of a court proceeding. It may reduce discovery, and in doing so, reduce legal fees.
The Disadvantage of a Prenup
The main downside of prenuptial agreements isn’t one that will apply to every divorcing couple. It will occur if your spouse decides to contest the validity of the agreement. Your spouse will need a legally acceptable reason for asserting that the agreement is invalid. Even if grounds to contest the validity are lacking, the process of proving the validity of the document can make the divorce take much longer. A valid prenup is one that was not prepared or signed with any of the following present:
Fraud (i.e., hiding assets)
Duress or coercion
Unconscionable or grossly unfair
It’s worth noting that most prenuptial agreements are found to be valid. If you had your prenup prepared by a family court lawyer, it’s almost certainly going to hold up in court.
The Ways Your Prenup Can Work for You
The exact ways in which your prenup will affect your divorce depends on its provisions. Bring a copy of the agreement to your consult with the lawyer. Your prenup may affect the following areas:
Life insurance policies
Division of debts and assets
If you share children with your spouse, your prenup cannot legally affect child custody or child support arrangements.
Divorce law in Maryland is notoriously complex. In many cases, spouses must endure a lengthy legal separation before the divorce can be finalized. If you can prove fault-based grounds for absolute divorce; however, you may be able to forego the waiting period and move forward with your post-divorce life. If your marriage has deteriorated because your spouse has committed adultery, you should speak with a divorce lawyer near Owings Mills. You may be surprised to learn that proving adultery could be easier than you think.
You do not require definitive proof of adultery.
Many spouses assume that it is necessary to provide hard proof of their spouse’s adultery, such as pictures or videotapes. Although this is a possibility, it certainly isn’t necessary. Maryland divorce law does not require spouses to offer definitive proof that adultery existed. Circumstantial or indirect evidence is sufficient.
You do need to prove your spouse’s disposition of affection.
Maryland divorce law does require a spouse to demonstrate that the other spouse had a “disposition of affection” toward a third party. This simply means that the individual somehow displayed his or her affection toward someone who is not married to that individual. This could take the form of holding hands, kissing, hugging, or even suggestive dancing. For instance, a friend of yours may have witnessed your spouse behaving in an affectionate manner with someone else. The testimony of your friend, perhaps complemented by pictures, may be sufficient to prove your spouse’s disposition of affection.
You do need to prove that an opportunity for adultery existed.
In addition to proving your spouse’s affectionate behavior, you must prove that he or she had the opportunity to commit adultery. This opportunity has to be more conclusive than the mere fact that you weren’t in your spouse’s presence on a 24/7 basis. For instance, you might demonstrate that your spouse spent time in a hotel room with the other individual or was seen entering the residence of the other individual.
You could offer substantial proof if it exists.
Although conclusive proof is not required to prove adultery, it can certainly help your case. It’s important to be honest with your divorce lawyer about your suspicions of adultery. If you were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD), this may be all that’s needed to prove adultery. If your spouse became pregnant and paternity tests prove that the child is not yours, this certainly proves adultery.
Going through a divorce and establishing child custody requires a lot of preparation and paperwork. It can start to feel like a full-time job in itself, which is one of the many reasons why you should hire a child custody attorney near Owings Mills to do the heavy lifting for you. Your lawyer will guide you in collecting the evidence necessary to present a compelling argument in court.
If your child isn’t currently living with you, make an effort to contact your child frequently. Call or use video conferencing software to maintain your relationship with your child, and to help him or her cope with the significant changes of divorce. Each time you speak with your child, keep a record of the date, time, and duration. Make notes about whether the other parent attempted to discourage contact between you and your child. If your child is currently living with you, you can still keep a record of contact between your child and the other parent. If the other parent doesn’t have frequent contact, the judge might think that there isn’t much of a relationship between them. Alternatively, the judge might consider whether you are discouraging contact.
Family court judges frown upon contentious interactions between parents when a child is a witness. Never provoke an argument, and never contribute to one. Instead, keep a record of all the times your ex disparages you in front of your child, shows an unwillingness to co-parent, or shows signs of mental or emotional instability.
Judges like to see that both parents are encouraging the child to have a healthy relationship with the other parent. If your child currently lives with you, you should support a robust visitation schedule with the other parent. If you’ve moved out of the family home, make every effort to see your child regularly. Both parents should keep records of when the visitation occurred, how long it lasted, and whether the visiting parent was late for the pick-up or drop-off. Additionally, make notes about whether the child was returned to you hungry, unhappy, or injured—or with homework incomplete.
Even when parents are both committed to co-parenting cooperatively for the benefit of their children, disputes are inevitable. One common area of conflict involves medications and other medical decisions. Although some types of child custody put the power to make these decisions firmly in the hands of one parent, in other cases, parents each have the right to weigh in, and disagreements may arise. Your family attorney in Owings Mills can help you navigate these touchy issues when they occur. Here is a look at some of the common problems that happen regarding medication disputes in co-parenting agreements—and how you can overcome them.
Common Medication Disagreements
In most cases, parents do not disagree about giving children medicine for acute illnesses, such as an antibiotic for bronchitis. Instead, parents may find they are not on the same page when it comes to managing chronic conditions, particularly ADHD or ADD. One parent may believe that the child needs to be on medication for attention deficit and/or hyperactivity, while the other parent doesn’t believe in giving children these kinds of medications. Other common areas of dispute are antidepressants or other medications for psychiatric conditions and vaccinations.
Solutions for Medication Disputes
Solving a medication dispute may be as easy as reviewing your child custody agreement. If one party has sole legal custody, then he or she has the exclusive right to make medical decisions for the children. If you have joint legal custody, then both parents must come to agreement on issues regarding medical decisions. If you can’t come to agreement, consult your family law attorney. He or she may recommend mediation, or in some cases, you may wish to return to court for a review of your custody agreement. Even if you haven’t experienced a dispute about medications or other aspects of medical care, it can be helpful to ask your family lawyer to include stipulations about how medical care will be addressed in your child custody agreement, so you can reduce the risk of future complications.
Maryland divorce law is quite restrictive, although a recent change in the rules relaxed the requirements for couples who do not share children and reach agreements on other matters. In nearly all other cases, spouses must live apart for 12 continuous months before they can be granted an absolute divorce, rather than a legal separation. An exception to this rule applies when a spouse has fault-based grounds for absolute divorce, such as cruelty and excessively vicious conduct. A family law attorney near Owings Mills can discuss your case with you and determine if a fault-based divorce is right for you.
For a court to grant a divorce on the basis of cruelty, your spouse’s actions must be egregious to the extent that they could be said to significantly jeopardize your health or permanently eliminate your happiness. A court is more likely to determine that physical violence constitutes cruelty if the spouse engaged in a pattern of physical violence, has threatened physical violence, or has engaged in mental abuse. Divorce may be granted if this abuse was directed to either you or to a minor child. Acts of physical violence may include instances of marital rape.
Courts give mental abuse significant weight when considering whether to grant an absolute divorce for fault-based grounds. Generally, mental abuse must be egregious. For example, the use of profane language alone might not be sufficient to prove cruel treatment. However, the court might consider the use of profane or indecent language to belittle the spouse or otherwise compromise his or her self-respect. Other types of mental abuse include controlling behaviors like isolating the spouse from other family members and friends. Mental abuse can include taunting and making public, false accusations for the purpose of debasing the spouse.
Proving cruelty and excessively vicious conduct in court requires the use of physical evidence or witness testimony. Your family lawyer can guide you in establishing proof, such as through the use of medical records, photographs of injuries, and written communications.
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