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.
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.
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.
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.
Divorce may be a sensitive issue and a contentious process, but it’s important not to overlook the effects of divorce on personal finances. When you consult a family law attorney in Owings Mills, he or she might recommend that you see a financial advisor, especially if your marriage involves complex financial matters such as retirement accounts and home ownership. With the combined guidance of your family court attorney and financial advisor, you can secure your financial future while ending your marriage.
Do Make a New Budget
Transitioning from a two-income household to a one-income household is a significant shift for your personal finances. Talk to your family lawyer about what you might reasonably expect to receive or pay for child support and alimony. Ask your attorney for guidance on marital debts and assets, and then consult your financial advisor for assistance developing a new budget for your post-divorce life. Although divorce is an incredibly stressful time, it’s important to adhere to your budget and avoid splurging on expensive gifts for the kids or relaxing spa vacations for you. Keep your focus on building a secure financial future.
Don’t Make Assumptions About Property Division
The issue of property division can be particularly contentious. It’s best not to make assumptions about whether you’ll remain in the family home and retain ownership of joint savings accounts. Because every divorcing couple’s situation is unique, it’s best to consult your family law attorney. Bring along a list of all of your assets and debts to get a clearer picture of what the future might hold for your finances.
Do Look at the Big Picture
It’s all too easy to get fixated on one particular aspect of the divorce, such as staying in the family home or keeping the family pet. One benefit of hiring a family lawyer is that he or she will help you look at the bigger picture. With your lawyer’s help, you should develop a clear understanding of your personal finances, including all of your joint and separate accounts, retirement funds, and liabilities.
The most important step to take after being served with divorce papers is to contact a family law attorney with experience in Owings Mills family courts. Being served with divorce papers can be a very difficult—even traumatic—experience, but it’s crucial to act right away because you have a limited period of time in which to file your response. If you do not retain the services of a divorce lawyer promptly, he or she may not be able to file your written answer within this time period.
Review the Legal Documents Carefully
Your divorce lawyer will help you understand the documents you received. Generally, divorce papers include the complaint or petition for divorce, a summons, and a tracking assignment. The tracking assignment informs you which judge has been assigned to your case. The document package should also include a blank financial statement; your family law attorney can prepare your financial affidavit for you. You might receive a motion for temporary orders, which will indicate the hearing date during which the motions will be ruled on. Temporary orders can make provisions for child custody, visitation schedules, and support while the divorce is pending.
Organize Important Information
After you schedule your initial consultation with a family law attorney, you’ll need to organize relevant documents. These include documents pertaining to marital assets, such as retirement accounts, savings accounts, stocks and bonds, and checking accounts, as well as documents pertaining to your income, like income tax returns and paystubs. Make copies of these statements and make copies of tax returns, credit card statements, and loans. It’s also a good idea to make copies of your children’s birth certificates, health insurance cards, medical records, daycare invoices, and daycare records. These documents may be useful in determining support obligations and demonstrating your involvement in your children’s daily lives.
File an Answer
After you meet with the divorce lawyer, he or she will draft your written answer to the divorce petition and file it with the appropriate court. Then, your lawyer will guide you through the next steps in the divorce process, such as preparing for upcoming court appearances and divorce mediation.
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