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.
Despite the protections provided by domestic violence laws in Owings Mills, countless individuals have been victimized by the people closest to them. If you’re considering divorce and your spouse has committed violence or threats of violence against you, then your safety is your priority. Know that acts of violence can unpredictably escalate before victims are able to leave their abusers. Unfortunately, this has caused many victims—mostly women—to lose their lives before they can get away. Don’t wait for the situation to worsen before taking action—get the help you need today.
Contact the local police department.
As soon as you are able, you should report the abuse to your local police department. Call 911 if you need emergency help. When you file the report, be as specific as possible. The report should reflect whether your spouse has an ongoing pattern of abusive behaviors. It isn’t enough to simply say that your spouse broke one of your ribs. To substantiate the case, you’ll need to specify exactly what your spouse did, and what you did during the incident.
Consult a family court attorney.
Your spouse may react violently if you tell him or her that you’re seeking a divorce. Instead of telling your spouse first, and then getting legal help, talk to an attorney right away. Your lawyer can provide guidance on obtaining a restraining order. In the meantime, if you do go back to the shared residency, ask your attorney not to call you at home. He or she shouldn’t call your cellphone, either, if your spouse might check your call logs.
Get to a safe place.
Even the most carefully planned arrangements can be derailed if your spouse becomes violent again. If you or your kids are in imminent danger, your only priority is to get to a safe place. Call 911, go to a hospital, or go to a relative’s or friend’s house if necessary. The nursing staff at any hospital can direct you to the confidential location of the nearest domestic violence shelter.
Stepparents in general have an undeservedly bad reputation, despite the fact that many of them form strong emotional bonds with their stepchildren, and invest considerable time and effort taking care of them. When a stepparent and biological parent divorce, it’s usually thought that the stepparent has no parental rights. However, divorce law in Owings Mills has been slowly catching up to the modern reality of blended families. Since child custody laws are subject to change, stepparents are encouraged to visit an attorney for the latest information about their legal rights.
Determination of Standing
A divorce attorney will first determine whether the stepparent has the right to have an issue heard by the court. This is known as standing. A court may decide to hear a stepparent’s case if visitation could be in the child’s best interests. The following factors may apply to the determination of standing:
- Whether the child will suffer harm without visitation with the stepparent
- The extent of assistance and financial aid provided by the stepparent for the child’s rearing
- The duration of the stepparent’s parental role with the child
- The degree to which the stepparent has held an active, significant role in the child’s daily life
- The strength of the relationship between the child and the stepparent
Award of Custody
Divorce law presumes that it’s in the child’s best interests for the biological parent to retain custody, rather than the stepparent. However, there are some occasional exceptions. If both of the biological parents are found unfit to raise the child, the stepparent may be awarded custody. Parental fitness is determined on a case-by-case basis, but may be considered when any of the following factors apply:
- Child abuse or neglect
- Other form of domestic violence
- Substance abuse
- Severe psychiatric illness
Of course, if both of the biological parents have died around the time of the divorce, then the stepparent will also be more likely to secure custody.
Establishment of Visitation
Although it’s challenging for a stepparent to get custody, he or she may be more likely to receive visitation. Visitation may be awarded if it’s determined to be in the child’s best interests. The court will consider whether an ongoing relationship with the stepparent will enhance the child’s quality of life.
Many marriages end with a prolonged divorce case contentiously argued in court, but not all divorces have to take this route. Your family law attorney in Owings Mills may recommend that you give mediation a try, especially if you’re interested in getting the case finalized quickly and retaining some control over the outcome. Divorce mediation is particularly helpful for resolving child custody issues. This is because it establishes a foundation of working together for the best interests of the children. Your divorce lawyer will help you prepare for your mediation session.
Preparing for Your Appointment
You can get the most out of each mediation session by arriving prepared. Organize all of your divorce-related paperwork and keep it in one folder. You should bring paperwork that details your assets, debts, retirement funds, and income. The mediator may send a packet of materials to you that you should review in advance. You might be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, for example.
Identifying the Issues
After explaining the purpose and format of mediation, the professional mediator will establish the rules for speaking. When one party is given the floor, the other person is expected to refrain from interrupting. You’ll each have an opportunity to identify the issues that need to be resolved. These generally include child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. Within those categories, it’s helpful to work on one specific issue at a time, such as who will live in the family home, how the parties will communicate with each other, and how household rules will remain consistent across both of the child’s residencies.
Discussing Concerns and Proposals
As the group works through each issue in mediation, both spouses will have an opportunity to clarify his or her concerns, goals, and proposals without interruption. After each person finishes speaking, the mediator can help him or her elaborate on these concerns. The other spouse will then have an opportunity to ask questions and respond. The mediator helps each spouse, together or separately, develop a proposed solution. The other spouse may choose to accept part or all of the solution, or offer a counter-proposal. In this way, the group works toward solutions that are mutually agreeable.
Even after a divorce has been finalized, you can expect to continue communicating with your ex-spouse if you share children with him or her. For the sake of your children, it’s essential to keep your interactions with your ex civil, especially when the children are within earshot. If your divorce is still pending, consider talking to your family attorney in Owings Mills about designing the parenting plan to include preferred communication methods. For example, your family lawyer could specify that it is the responsibility of each parent to keep each other informed about any changes in the children’s school schedule, extracurricular activities, and health.
For some helpful tips on overcoming communication problems, watch this interview with a family therapist. She suggests treating the relationship with your ex just like a business relationship; you can be cordial with your ex even if you do not enjoy being in his or her presence. It’s also crucial to avoid using your children as messengers between you and your ex; instead, speak or text directly with your ex.
Property division is often a contentious issue in divorce cases. When you consult your divorce lawyer in Owings Mills , be sure to bring along a complete list of all of your assets, including retirement accounts. Every divorce is different, depending on the exact types of retirement accounts that are involved. For example, if you and your spouse have an IRA, then you should be able to transfer some of the funds into a new account for one of the spouses. If done properly, no taxes should be assessed; change in fund ownership will be treated as an IRA rollover or transfer by the IRA custodian. Your family lawyer will ensure that the transfer is handled correctly to avoid tax assessments and early withdrawal penalties.
Qualified retirement plans are handled differently from IRAs during a divorce. Spouses must use a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to divide the assets in the account between the account owner and the current spouse, ex-spouse, child, or other dependent.
If you are eligible for divorce in Maryland , there are several steps you and your spouse must take to legally end your marriage. In addition to making the decision to divorce, you must also settle matters such as asset division, child custody, and spousal support. Working with a divorce attorney serving Owings Mills is a smart choice when navigating Maryland divorce laws; your divorce lawyer will ensure that all relevant issues are covered and that your needs and preferences are met during the divorce process.
Filing Divorce Documents
The first step in seeking a divorce in Maryland is the filing of at least two documents: A Complaint for Absolute Divorce and a Civil Domestic Case Information Report. These documents must be filed by the plaintiff spouse wishing to end the marriage with the circuit court serving your county, and are associated with filing fees; however, you may be eligible for a fee waiver depending on your circumstances.
Serving of Divorce Documents
After the divorce documents have been filed, the defendant spouse is personally served with these documents, as well as a Writ of Summons. The plaintiff spouse will receive an affidavit proving that the papers have been served once this process is complete.
Filing an Answer
Once the defendant spouse receives the divorce documents, he must file an Answer to the Complaint for Absolute Divorce. This document will admit or deny any allegations made in the Complaint. Additionally, the defendant spouse has the right to file a Counter Complaint for Absolute Divorce, which may state grounds for divorce that are different than those of the plaintiff spouse if he disagrees with the original Complaint.
Before the divorce can be finalized, both spouses must settle issues such as the division of finances and property, child custody and support, and alimony payments. This process is typically aided by the couple’s family court attorneys, and may go through a divorce mediation process or court appearances if the couple cannot come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce.
Alimony is financial support awarded to one spouse during divorce proceedings to allow him or her to maintain a certain standard of living after the marriage ends. Because alimony is often a very contentious issue, you will need a divorce attorney in Owings Mills to argue for the right kind of alimony for you.
There are a few different types of alimony. Alimony pendente lite is paid during the divorce process but does not ensure that alimony will be awarded when the divorce is complete. Rehabilitative alimony, which is the most common form, is paid post-divorce for a specific period of time to allow the recipient to complete education or job training that will allow him or her to become self-sufficient. Indefinite alimony is typically only awarded if the recipient has an illness or disability that prevents him or her from become self-sufficient. It is also awarded if the court determines that one party’s living standard is significantly disparate from his or her ex. Rehabilitative alimony can be modifiable or non-modifiable, meaning the court may not be able to make any changes to it once it is ordered. However, indefinite alimony is generally modifiable. A divorce lawyer can help you understand which type of alimony is best suited to your needs under Maryland law.
A child custody dispute can be stressful for everyone involved because it often causes extremely emotional issues to surface. Going into a dispute with a focus on what is best for the children and the assistance of a child custody attorney near Owings Mills will help you navigate the issues surrounding this complicated part of the divorce process. When you enter into a dispute over child custody, here is a look at what you can expect.
In some cases, parents can negotiate a child custody agreement with the help of their divorce lawyers. During this negotiation, you will figure out issues such as which of the types of child custody is appropriate for your case, where and when the children will spend time and who is able to make decisions about the children’s lives, such as their schooling and healthcare. If both parents are civil with each other, often these negotiations facilitated by child custody lawyers are easier than going to court. If negotiation doesn’t work, then your attorney will seek a court date for a judge to hear your dispute.
To prepare for your court date, your lawyer will gather information from you to support your argument for the type of custody agreement you want. Courts make decisions based on what is best for the child, so you may need to demonstrate that you have a stable home that gives children easy access to their school, friends, and activities. Showing that you have been the primary caregiver in the past or that your spouse is unable to provide the children with the care they need because of his or her work schedule or personal life is also helpful. Your attorney will carefully gather evidence to support your custody request.
Your lawyer will present all of the information necessary to support your case to the court. You may also be called on to answer questions and to fight back against allegations made against you by your ex. Depending on the age of your children, the judge may also consider their preferences. Typically, judges seek this information in a private meeting away from each parent to put the child at ease.
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