Who Gets to Keep the Pet When Couples Split?
Along with child custody, the decision regarding who gets to keep the family pet is often the most contentious part of a divorce. If you can’t bear to think of life without your beloved pet, let your family attorney in Owings Mills know that your pet is your priority. You may have to compromise on other matters, such as giving up some of your share of the marital property.
You can hear more about this complex issue by watching this featured video and consulting your attorney. You’ll hear an interview with Gail, a woman who recently filed for divorce and only requested retaining ownership of her faithful friend, Lucky. Although Maryland divorce law hasn’t caught up to the emotional realities of pet parenthood, the judge presiding over Gail’s case made an exception. He ordered Gail and her ex to share visitation time with Lucky.
Steps to Take Before You File for Divorce
Once you’ve made the decision to file for divorce , the first person you should inform is your attorney—not your spouse. Make an appointment with a family lawyer in Owings Mills and find out what you should and shouldn’t do in the time leading up to the filing of the petition. If you believe your spouse may react aggressively or violently to the news of the divorce, you can ask your attorney about getting a protective order. The protective order can require your spouse to move out of the family home.
Assess your finances and earning potential.
Switching from a two-income to a one-income household is quite a shock. A legal separation is even more difficult if you didn’t work during the marriage. You’ll need to carefully consider your financial situation. If you do work, consider whether you can realistically support yourself and any children with one income. If you don’t work, consider whether your education, experience, and job skills would allow you to secure a job that is capable of supporting your lifestyle.
Make copies of financial and household documents.
Your family lawyer will need all relevant financial and household documents. Make copies of these before informing your spouse that you want a divorce, especially if there’s a possibility that your spouse will try to hide assets. You may need copies of the following:
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Life insurance policies
- Mortgage documents
- Credit card statements
- Investment and retirement account statements
- Vehicle titles
- Employee benefits statements
- Social Security statements
Your spouse might be self-employed, which can complicate the divorce process further. Get as much information as you can about the finances of the business, such as by copying relevant documents stored in the family’s computer.
Write down the details of the household expenses.
Use your checkbook and your bank statements to identify all household expenses for the past year. The family court will ask for information about household expenses. Additionally, you can keep track of your average monthly cash expenditures by putting a small notebook in your car, and making a note in it every time you purchase something.
Make an inventory of major assets.
You’ll need to give your lawyer a list of all major assets. These typically include vehicles, jewelry, furniture, appliances, and electronics. You might have to get a professional valuation of certain assets , including rare coin collections or the contents of a wine cellar.
What Role Does Adultery Play in a Divorce Case?
Adultery is a breach of trust, and many couples cannot recover from it. But before you tell your spouse that you want a divorce , schedule a consult with a family lawyer serving Owings Mills. He or she can walk you through the process and explain the effects of the infidelity on the divorce case.
Grounds for Divorce
Maryland divorce law is complex, and for most couples, it’s more time-consuming in this state to obtain a no-fault divorce. Many spouses must be legally separated for 12 consecutive months before getting legally divorced. If either spouse has sexual relations with another person, either before or during the legal separation, this is grounds for an absolute divorce. The court can grant an absolute divorce based on adultery much more quickly than the average no-fault divorce.
Effects on Alimony
Bring your relevant financial documents to your meeting with your attorney. He or she can review these to give you personalized guidance on the alimony the judge might order. Many spouses are surprised to learn that adultery doesn’t always affect spousal support. Even if your spouse was the one who was unfaithful, he or she could still receive alimony from you. The judge is more likely to consider the role of adultery while establishing the support order if the act of infidelity affected the marital assets. For instance, the adulterous spouse might have spent a substantial portion of the marital assets on expensive gifts for the other person.
Proof of Adultery
The judge will only grant an absolute divorce based on adultery if you can prove that your spouse was unfaithful. It is not necessary to prove that sexual intercourse took place. Also, depending on the electronic surveillance used, this might even be illegal. All that’s necessary is to prove that your spouse had an adulterous disposition and an opportunity. An adulterous disposition refers to displays of affection, such as hand-holding, hugging, or kissing. An adulterous opportunity could include any indication that the spouse could have committed adultery, such as evidence that the spouse stayed overnight at the other person’s residence.
Is Your Child Support Arrangement Fair?
Regardless of the type of child custody arrangement you have, it may be possible to get a child support order modified. Talk to a lawyer in Owings Mills who is knowledgeable about divorce law. Your family law lawyer may be able to file a petition to request a modified court order if you can demonstrate that you have experienced significant financial changes that affect your ability to pay the current support order. For instance, you may have suffered job loss or hour reductions. Or, you may have recently become responsible for paying child support for a different child.
As you’ll learn by watching this featured video, it may also be possible to request a modification of child support based on changes in the financial circumstances of the other parent. If the custodial parent has recently secured a higher paying job or has received a large inheritance, it may be possible to reduce the support obligations.
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.
What to Expect When You Meet With a Divorce Lawyer
Meeting with a divorce lawyer for the first time can be emotional and overwhelming. Fortunately, you will almost certainly walk away from the meeting feeling better than when you walked in, with many questions about the future finally answered and with a plan for moving forward. As you go into your first meeting with your divorce lawyer in Owings Mills , here is a look at what to expect, so you can be prepared and ready to focus on the issues at hand.
General Case Review
Before your divorce lawyer can give you the right advice, he or she must understand as much as possible about your situation. First, he or she will need to know if your spouse has already filed for divorce or if you plan to file yourself. Next, you’ll need to review the circumstances that have led to your divorce. The reasons you want a divorce can have an impact on the approach your attorney takes to your case. For instance, if your divorce was precipitated by your spouse’s affair, that circumstance can influence the type of divorce you decide to pursue and decisions about alimony and child custody. Although your divorce attorney is not a counselor, he or she is accustomed to dealing with people in distress, so don’t be concerned if you become emotional, and don’t feel embarrassed to be honest about your marriage and your reasons for divorce.
It’s important to prepare a number of documents for your first meeting with your lawyer, if possible. The most crucial information to have is financial information. Bring bank statements, the past two years of tax filings, statements on your IRAs, mortgages, credit cards, and other debts. It can also help to make a list of your living expenses and bring pay stubs from both you and your spouse. Child support and spousal support will be determined in large part by these factors. If you have documentation of any of the issues within your marriage, such as receipts that are linked to an affair, you can also provide these to your divorce lawyer during this meeting.
Speaking with Your Kids About Divorce
When you and your spouse are certain that you’re moving forward with a divorce, it’s time to decide when and how to tell the kids. A family law attorney in Owings Mills may recommend that you and your spouse attend divorce mediation to try to work out a custody and visitation arrangement . If so, then you might want to delay having the discussion until you can answer the kids’ questions about where they will live.
For more helpful advice, watch this brief video. It recommends telling the kids a few days before one of the parents will move out to give the kids time to get accustomed to the idea. Remember to emphasize to the kids that the divorce isn’t their fault. Avoid blaming the other parent and never say anything that makes the kids feel as though they have to choose sides.
Effective Communication Methods with Your Ex
Divorce law is complex, which is why it’s best to have a divorce attorney in Owings Mills on your side to protect your interests. Although divorcing spouses often want the case to be resolved as quickly as possible, it’s necessary to remember that divorce isn’t always a one-time issue; if you share children in common with your spouse, you’ll need to be able to communicate effectively with him or her for years to come. Making the divorce process as amicable as possible may help prevent contentious child custody issues in the future and it will certainly improve your communication with your ex.
Agree on a Method
The first step toward effective co-parenting is a matter of logistics: Deciding which communication methods you will use. It may be necessary to make a phone call or have a face-to-face conversation in some cases, but if your relationship with your ex is strained, then it’s best to use more impersonal methods whenever possible. E-mail is an excellent choice because it gives you time to choose your wording carefully before responding. Plus, you can save all of your received and sent e-mails in case they are needed for future litigation. Regardless of which methods you choose, you should never use a child as a messenger.
Keep Each Other in the Loop
Agree to keep each other in the loop. Tell your ex about the important things going on in your child’s life (e.g., school pictures, immunizations, and major temper tantrums) and ask that you be kept informed if something happens at the other parent’s house that you need to know about.
Avoid Putting the Kids in the Middle
Children need stability and support . Witnessing hostility between their parents can inflict real psychological damage on children that can have lasting effects. Make an agreement with your ex to hide disagreements from the kids and to never make disparaging remarks about the other parent in front of the children.
Use Professional Language
Perceiving your relationship with your ex as a business relationship can support effective co-parenting. Use courteous, professional language with your ex when speaking, texting, or e-mailing. After writing an e-mail to your ex, take a minute to reread it before you press “Send.” Make sure there are no word choices or stylistic selections that could be misinterpreted. For example, writing something in all capital letters could be interpreted as hostility.
Reasons to Avoid an Online Divorce
If you are about to get divorced, it can feel overwhelming. Even if the separation is agreed upon mutually, chances are there are many things in your life that will change as a result of the divorce. Though some people choose to get divorced online thinking that it will save them time and money, it can actually do more harm than good. Online divorce forms are simplistic, and do not take into account the nuances of your relationship, assets, and financial situation. By consulting a divorce attorney in Owings Mills , you can feel confident that your bests interests will be represented, resulting in a fair and timely divorce agreement. Check out this infographic to learn more about why you should work with a divorce lawyer instead of seeking a divorce online.
How Is Child Support Enforced?
Child support is one of the many issues that will be negotiated by your divorce lawyers in Ownings Mills when you end your marriage, but the agreement only works when the responsible party pays. What happens if child support payments aren’t made after divorce? Watch this video to learn more.
Child support agreements can be enforced through a court hearing in which your child support attorney can demonstrate that the payments are missing and your ex-spouse has an opportunity to show why he or she is not making payments. Child support groups also exist in each state to enforce child support law. Consult with your divorce attorney before pursuing any action to determine the best strategy for enforcing your support agreement.
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