Divorce usually results in difficult financial situations, which your alimony lawyer in Owings Mills will help you sort through. You may also wish to consult an accountant when it’s time to file your tax return, instead of handling tax changes yourself. If you’re the parent with primary physical custody of the child, you’re entitled to receive child support. These payments do not have to be reported as income—you’ll receive them tax-free to defray the expenses of rearing your child. If you’re awarded alimony after the divorce , you will typically have to report these checks as income, and they’ll be subject to taxation.
You might find yourself making alimony and child support payments after the divorce. In this case, your tax situation will be similar to that of your ex’s, only in reverse. You cannot deduct child support on your taxes in order to reduce your tax liability. However, you can usually deduct alimony payments, provided those payments are made in cash, rather than property. Additionally, alimony payments must be court-ordered if they are deducted.
A child support attorney serving the Owings Mills area can estimate how much you can expect to pay, based on the state’s guidelines and your family’s finances. Unlike child custody, there is a set formula that divorce judges follow to determine a fair child support payment .
When you watch this video, you’ll learn that this formula relies on both parents’ income, household expenses, and the child’s financial needs. You’ll be asked to fill out a detailed financial statement, and your ex-spouse will do the same. Your attorney will adjust your net income based on whether you pay or receive alimony. If you already pay child support for children from a different relationship, these payments will be taken into consideration. Additionally, the courts may consider the family’s standard of living prior to the divorce.
Under divorce law, it is presumed that, barring evidence to the contrary, it’s in a child’s best interests to have balanced and ongoing access to both parents. Even when this is accomplished, other relatives may sometimes get left out. Grandparents can be powerful role models and loving caregivers for children. Grandparents who have been refused time with their grandchildren do have the legal right to request visitation. This is a complex issue, however, and grandparents are more likely to have a favorable outcome for their case by working with a family law attorney serving the Owings Mills area.
Understanding Federal Rulings
Initially, Maryland divorce law simply stated that the court may choose to award reasonable visitation to grandparents if it’s in the child’s best interests. Family law judges have considerable discretion when determining if something is or isn’t in a child’s best interests. However, this law was affected by a decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000. The case, Troxel v. Granville, was resolved with the ruling that fit parents are ultimately responsible for making decisions in their children’s best interests, and that they could choose to deny visitation with grandparents.
Overriding Parental Objections
In 2002, the Maryland Court of Appeals handed down a ruling on the case of Shurupoff v. Vockroff. In its ruling, the court established two ways in which grandparents could successfully obtain visitation despite parental objections. The first is to prove parental unfitness. The second is by proving that exceptional circumstances apply. Grandparent rights were further supported by the decision in the 2007 case, Koshko v. Haining. In its ruling, the Maryland Court of Appeals determined that exceptional circumstances exist to override parental objections when the absence of grandparent visitation would be harmful to the child.
Seeking Visitation with Grandchildren
Both case law and statutory law are still evolving in Maryland regarding grandparent visitation rights. A family lawyer can evaluate the merits of seeking visitation on a case-by-case basis, considering any recent legal developments. The process of seeking visitation rights starts with the filing of a petition with the appropriate court.
In Owings Mills, Maryland, divorce law is a bit stricter than most of the country, although that has slowly been changing. In most cases, if the couple isn’t eligible for fault-based divorce or a mutual consent, no-fault divorce, then there is a minimum 12-month waiting period. This 12-month period is a legal separation, during which the spouses must not cohabit or have sexual relations. At the end of the separation, the divorce can proceed. The time it takes to finalize the divorce depends on the extent to which the spouses can agree to settle the major issues, such as custody and property division.
Spouses who do not share minor children and have resolved all issues out of court can seek a mutual consent divorce. Both spouses must sign the proposed settlement agreement. A court hearing may be scheduled in as quickly as 45 days from the filing of the paperwork. Another option is fault-based divorce, in which one of the spouses seeks to end the marriage because of issues like adultery, incarceration, or insanity. Some of these grounds may have their own waiting period. For example, divorce based on conviction of a crime can proceed only if the convicted person has been sentenced to more than three years, and has already served at least 12 months.
The child custody laws applicable to Owings Mills, Maryland give the judge broad discretion in determining whether a child can voice his or her own preferences about the type of child custody arrangement. When establishing the original custody agreement , the judge will determine on a case-by-case basis if the child is mature enough to express his or her preferences. Judges will not consider poorly reasoned opinions, such as a child wanting to live with the mother because she has looser house rules. Greater weight is given to evidence of emotional attachment.
After the type of child custody has already been determined, either parent may later file for a modification due to substantial changes in circumstances. At this time, the child may again be able to voice an opinion. A child can only file the petition for him- or herself when he or she is at least 16. The teen must prove that a change in custody serves his or her best interests regarding emotional and physical well-being.
Once a judge issues a ruling on the type of child custody arrangement, either parent must have a compelling reason to request a modification. A family lawyer serving Owings Mills may file a petition to request a modification if either parent has experienced a significant change in life circumstances. A substantial change doesn’t automatically compel a judge to order a modification, however. The change must be proven to be in the child’s best interests.
One reason to have a family lawyer file this petition is if the custodial parent intends to undertake a long-distance move away from the noncustodial parent. Maryland law requires the relocating parent to file a written notice with the court and the non-relocating parent at least 90 days before the scheduled move. It’s possible for the non-relocating parent to agree to the move, in which case the parents can submit the written agreement to the court. If the non-relocating parent doesn’t agree to it, he or she has 20 days to file an objection after receiving the notice. Attorneys can represent the parties at the hearing, during which the court will consider which arrangement would be in the child’s best interests. In these cases, the court is primarily concerned with maintaining stability in the children’s lives and facilitating ongoing relationships with both parents.
If you think your child is in imminent danger, don’t wait for a court order—call the local police department right away. In less urgent situations, talk to a family lawyer about requesting a modification in custody. The court may consider a modification if you can prove that the child is at risk of harm in the other household due to domestic violence, substance abuse, parental neglect, or severe mental health disorders.
Sometimes, one of the parents repeatedly violates the terms of the custody agreement. Perhaps the mother refuses to let the father have his rightful visitation or repeatedly disparages the father where the children can hear. Or perhaps the father repeatedly brings the kids back late from visits. Parental noncompliance should be documented each time it happens. The first step is generally for the parents to try to improve their communication. If this doesn’t work, one of the parents could petition the court to enforce the order. Child custody modifications may be considered when these options fail, or when the violations of the custody order are significant.
The end of a relationship can be difficult, regardless of whether the couple was married or not. This is especially true when the couple shares a child. Even though the couple won’t need to file for divorce, they’ll still need to consult a child custody lawyer in the Owings Mills area regarding custody, visitation, and support agreements. It is possible, though not always practical, for unmarried ex-partners to make parenting agreements without going to court.
Identify the custody and visitation issues that must be resolved.
There are many more issues that must be agreed upon other than the type of child custody you’ll have. Consider these questions regarding common child custody issues:
- Which parent will the child primarily live with?
- When will the other parent spend time with the child?
- Will there be overnight visitation?
- Who is responsible for picking up/dropping off the child?
- Will either parent be able to call the child at any time?
- With whom will the child spend holidays and school vacations?
- Will either parent be able to move out of the area?
- How will household rules remain consistent across houses?
- Who will make major decisions for the child’s upbringing?
A solid parenting agreement is one that is specific and easily understood. It’s best to make major decisions ahead of time, but both parents should know that a little flexibility is also important. For instance, a parenting agreement might not specify that visitation time might be canceled if the child has a stomach flu, but if the parents are reasonably flexible, they can adjust their plans to suit the child’s needs.
Agree about the child’s support.
A family lawyer can help you calculate a reasonable child support payment based on state guidelines. This may help prevent disputes about paying too much or not enough. In the support agreement, be sure to specify the amount, frequency of payment, and form of payment (check, cash, etc.).
Establish an avenue for change.
It’s normal for parenting and support agreements to change over time, whether or not a court established them. As the child grows older, his or her needs and preferences will change. It’s a good idea to have a written agreement with your ex to meet at least annually to discuss whether there are any new issues that must be resolved. Some problems may arise before your planned annual meeting. Consider setting guidelines for how you and your ex will manage disputes. A proactive mindset may help you avoid court in the future.
Even if you and your ex have a rock solid child custody agreement, it’s virtually inevitable that some moments of tension will occur. With a joint type of child custody , parents will likely have to meet each other briefly to exchange the child. You and your ex might not look forward to seeing each other again, but it’s crucial to keep the exchange as neutral and conflict-free as possible. Remember that kids easily pick up on tension, and they are apt to be psychologically harmed by it. If you’re still going through the divorce, consider talking to a family lawyer in Owings Mills about specifying the details of the exchange in the parenting agreement.
Understanding the Child’s Best Interests
For a child exchange to be conflict-free, it’s essential that both parents be on the same page about the best interests of the child. When the exchange is contentious and stressful, the child becomes anxious about each exchange, less able to enjoy spending time with either parent, and more likely to suffer from damage to self-esteem. Remember that children of divorce tend to feel significant guilt. When they see their parents fighting, they often blame themselves. Your child needs emotional stability, and only you and the other parent can provide it.
Communicating with Alternative Methods
You may need to have your family lawyer include provisions in the parenting agreement that spell out acceptable methods of communication between parents . Phone calls can be tricky when the relationship is contentious. Written communication, such as emails and texts, may be best, although phone calls will still be needed for last-minute changes in plans. By agreeing to communicate about important matters before or after the exchange—not during it—both parents can reduce the risk that a conflict will affect the child.
Adjusting the Child Exchange Method
Sometimes, despite the best intentions of the parents, child exchanges become less than harmonious. It may be best to adjust the method of the exchange before the child becomes significantly affected. Email the other parent and tell him or her that you’re concerned about the emotional well-being of your child, and would like to explore the possibility of adjusting the exchange. It may be possible to have another responsible adult with a valid driver’s license provide transportation for the child, such as the child’s grandparent or stepparent. If this isn’t possible, then consider doing the exchange in a public parking lot. Both parents could stay in their own cars and supervise the child as he or she walks from one car to the other.
One of the most contentious aspects of divorce law is child custody. It’s common for parents to have trouble working together, long after a judge hands down a ruling on the type of child custody they will have. Since future conflicts are almost inevitable, it’s best to take a proactive approach. Parents can be proactive about handling child custody problems by becoming knowledgeable about child custody laws in Owings Mills, and by keeping the phone number for their family lawyers close at hand.
Denied visitation is one of the most common—and most serious—child custody issues. Custodial parents sometimes deny visitation if the other parent is late with child support or alimony. Perhaps less commonly, parents with visitation rights may decide to purposely withhold child support or alimony in an attempt to barter more visitation time with the child. Neither situation is legally allowed, nor is it healthy for the child. It’s important to remember that, legally speaking, child support and alimony are completely separate issues from custody and visitation. If the other parent has refused to transfer the child for your court-ordered visitation, you should document the problem, call your family law lawyer, and perhaps file a petition with the court requesting that your visitation rights be enforced.
Child Transfer Tardiness
For busy parents, running a few minutes late now and then is to be expected. But when a parent consistently runs late when he or she is supposed to pick up a child for visitation, this may have harmful psychological effects on the child. Sometimes, the best course of action for this problem is to simply chat with the other parent about the schedule. Avoid being argumentative or confrontational, but do point out the effect the tardiness has on the child. Perhaps the two of you could make a few simple scheduling changes to avoid this problem in the future.
Legal Custody Disagreement
Joint legal custody means that both parents have a say in the major decisions for a child’s upbringing, such as the child’s education, healthcare, and religion. It isn’t always easy for parents to come to a consensus on these issues, but it’s important to maintain civility in your conversations. Perhaps there’s an underlying reason why the other parent constantly challenges your suggestions. The other parent may feel that he or she doesn’t get enough time with the child, for instance. In this situation, professional mediation can help.
Divorce typically has substantial effects on personal finances. Not only will the spouses have to adjust to living on a single income, but they won’t have access to the same financial assets as before. The division of property is subject to Maryland divorce laws and factors that are unique to each individual case. For accurate legal guidance, it’s advisable to consult a divorce attorney serving Owings Mills .
What is marital property?
It’s a common misconception that marital property refers solely to property that is jointly owned by both spouses. In fact, marital property includes almost any property that was acquired during the marriage. This applies regardless of which spouse purchased the property or earned the wages. Marital property includes vehicles, furniture, artwork, real estate, stocks and bonds, bank accounts, and retirement accounts. There are a few exceptions to this rule. If one spouse receives an inheritance or property as a gift, it’s considered non-marital property. Property is also excluded if there is a valid, legal agreement that excludes it.
Is marital property divided 50/50?
Another common myth about property division in a divorce is that each spouse receives half of the marital assets. Maryland is an equitable distribution state, rather than a community property state. In an equitable distribution state, the court issues rulings on property division based on what would be fair for both parties. A fair result isn’t necessarily an equal distribution.
Can property be both marital and non-marital?
In certain cases, it’s possible for property to be marital and non-marital. One person might purchase a condo before the marriage, which would make the condo non-marital property. However, if marital assets are then used to pay the mortgage, the condo becomes partially marital and non-marital property.
Does the length of the marriage factor into property division?
The length of the marriage does not necessarily have a significant impact on property division, unless the marriage was short-lived. Short-term marriages do not generally give the spouses enough time to accrue significant marital property. In these situations, the goal of the court is generally to restore both individuals to their pre-marital financial situations. The spouses can expect to keep the property they each brought to the marriage, and fairly divide any assets acquired during the marriage.
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