A Spouse’s Guide to Cruelty and Vicious Conduct
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.
What Is Implied Consent?
If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, you will need to have an attorney in Owings Mills explain the legal nuances of your case. Like other states, Maryland has established a rule of implied consent. This means that, if you are driving on the state’s roadways, you are presumed to have already consented to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test. The implied consent law applies to you if you’re pulled over by a police officer on suspicion of impaired driving and the officer asks you to submit to blood alcohol content (BAC) testing.
Since every driver has already given his or her consent to submit to testing, drivers who refuse to do so face legal penalties. If you’ve refused to take the test, your lawyer will inform you that you face a 120-day suspension of your driver’s license. If you refuse the test on a second occasion, the suspension will last for one year. Some people reason that it’s worth it to risk license suspension if it means they won’t be convicted of DUI. But in fact, refusal to submit to a test almost certainly won’t help your case, and it will only add to the penalties you could face.
What Is Negligent Manslaughter?
The killing of one human being by another may be prosecuted under a few different charges. Homicide, for example, is an intentional killing. Manslaughter is different, but the potential legal penalties are still quite severe. If you or a loved one has been charged with manslaughter, it’s important to contact an attorney in Owings Mills right away. You can also watch this featured video for a quick introduction to this charge.
This legal professional explains that a person can be charged with negligent manslaughter if he or she acted in a negligent manner that resulted in another person’s death. This charge does not require that the defendant intended to kill the other person. For example, a drunk driver might not intend to kill a pedestrian, but the death could occur if the drunk driver strikes that person.
What Is Equitable Distribution?
During a divorce, separating property and assets can be a daunting process. Ideally, a divorce lawyer in Maryland can represent your interests during this negotiation process to ensure that your rights are being protected. If you and your ex cannot agree on how to divide the property, the court may make a determination that equitable distribution should occur.
Equitable distribution means dividing all of the marital assets in a fair manner. This standard does not mean that property is divided up equally but rather that is it shared between the two parties in a way that is deemed equitable based on factors such as the duration of the marriage, the financial and nonfinancial contributions made to the family by each party during the marriage, and each party’s current financial situation. Because equitable distribution is extremely complex, having a divorce attorney at your side is essential. Your attorney can accurately represent your claim to marital property during a divorce so that you get your fair share of the assets. He or she may also help with property division negotiations before you go to court, so that you and your ex can attempt to settle the dispute without legal intervention.
The Basics of Alimony
Alimony, or spousal support, is frequently an area of dispute in divorce cases. Before discussing spousal support in your divorce settlement, you should have an experienced alimony attorney in Owings Mills on your side.
Watch this video to learn more about how alimony is decided during divorce cases. In addition to any applicable state laws, courts consider each family’s individual circumstances before ruling on alimony. Your divorce lawyer can build a case that demonstrates your current financial standing after your marriage ended to argue either that you are entitled to support from your spouse if you are seeking alimony or that you should not have to pay to support your ex if you are fighting an alimony request.
Can a Child Express Custody Preferences to the Court?
Child custody is one of the most difficult aspects of the divorce process. Ideally, child custody issues for families in Owings Mills may be resolved by the parents through mediation. But when the parents disagree, the judge will make the decisions regarding parenting arrangements. The preferences of the minor child may play a role in the judge’s decision. However, it is not typically the only factor that a divorce judge will consider. The judge will give greater weight to the preferences of the child when that child displays maturity and offers a well-reasoned explanation of why one parent is preferred over the other. Superficial reasons such as fewer rules at one house will not help a child’s case.
Even if a mature child has valid reasons why he or she prefers to primarily live with a particular parent, the judge is not likely to require the child to testify in court. Testifying in front of the parents can be psychologically damaging for a child of any age. Instead, the judge may decide to interview the child in chambers. Family lawyers may be present during the interview, but the parents will not be there.
Should You Report Alimony on Your Tax Return?
Filing taxes after a divorce can be complex, particularly if alimony payments are involved. Your divorce lawyer in Owning Mills can offer advice about filing your taxes after a divorce. This video addresses a common question that people have about alimony and taxes.
Generally, alimony payments are taxable income for the recipient and deductible expenses for the person paying the alimony. If you are the person paying the alimony, you will need to include the Social Security number of your ex on your taxes so the IRS can determine where those payments are going. If you are unsure about how alimony and other aspects of your divorce may impact your taxes, ask your divorce lawyer for advice or a referral to a tax professional.
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.
What to Know About Alimony Payments
Alimony laws are intended to help spouses maintain a comparable standard of living that was enjoyed during the marriage. Typically, the intention of alimony is to allow the lesser earning spouse the opportunity to become self-sufficient after the marriage. If a divorce judge awards alimony to one spouse, these payments are completely separate from a child support order. If you intend on seeking alimony from your spouse or your spouse is seeking payments from you, contact an alimony lawyer located in Baltimore County for guidance.
What happens if spouses make an out-of-court agreement?
It’s highly advisable to avoid signing any type of agreement with your spouse before discussing the matter with a divorce lawyer. If you do make an out-of-court agreement with your spouse, the court is generally bound to honor that agreement.
Can I seek alimony after I’m already divorced?
After your divorce is finalized, neither ex-spouse can initiate a new request for alimony. If alimony has already been ordered, it may be possible to petition for a modification of alimony payments. Consider talking to your divorce lawyer if you experience a significant change in financial circumstances that might prompt an alimony modification.
What will the court consider when ordering alimony?
There are a range of factors the court will evaluate when deciding whether or not to award alimony to a spouse. Primarily, the judge will consider the ability of each party to be self-supporting, the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, and any agreement that was already made between the spouses. The court can consider each party’s financial needs and resources, the time necessary for a spouse to receive education or vocational training, the parties’ respective ages, their health, and the mental and physical capabilities of each spouse.
Are there any tax consequences for alimony payments?
Unlike child support-which is neither taxable nor tax deductible-alimony does have tax consequences. Generally, the payor can deduct alimony payments on his or her tax return and the alimony recipient must report it as income.
Does the court enforce alimony payments?
If the court has issued an alimony order or decree, then the court can also enforce that order. If an ex-spouse does not remit alimony payments, the court may decide to hold that person in contempt of court.
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