Given the consistently high divorce rates in modern times, many couples consider it prudent to establish a prenuptial agreement before the wedding. A prenup can protect both spouses, although each of them should consult their own family lawyer in Owings Mills before signing the document. If the marriage doesn’t last, a divorce attorney can offer state-specific guidance regarding the impact of the prenup on the divorce settlement.
The Benefits of a Prenup
Divorce doesn’t always have to be a long, drawn-out process filled with arguments and ill will. Divorce mediation is a viable alternative, and having a prenuptial agreement in place may make mediation more likely to succeed. That’s because a prenup can take care of many of the issues that need to be settled before a divorce is finalized. Even if mediation doesn’t succeed in settling the rest of the issues, or if you and your spouse would rather not try mediation, having a prenup in place can lessen the headaches of a court proceeding. It may reduce discovery, and in doing so, reduce legal fees.
The Disadvantage of a Prenup
The main downside of prenuptial agreements isn’t one that will apply to every divorcing couple. It will occur if your spouse decides to contest the validity of the agreement. Your spouse will need a legally acceptable reason for asserting that the agreement is invalid. Even if grounds to contest the validity are lacking, the process of proving the validity of the document can make the divorce take much longer. A valid prenup is one that was not prepared or signed with any of the following present:
Fraud (i.e., hiding assets)
Duress or coercion
Unconscionable or grossly unfair
It’s worth noting that most prenuptial agreements are found to be valid. If you had your prenup prepared by a family court lawyer, it’s almost certainly going to hold up in court.
The Ways Your Prenup Can Work for You
The exact ways in which your prenup will affect your divorce depends on its provisions. Bring a copy of the agreement to your consult with the lawyer. Your prenup may affect the following areas:
Life insurance policies
Division of debts and assets
If you share children with your spouse, your prenup cannot legally affect child custody or child support arrangements.
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.
Going through a divorce and establishing child custody requires a lot of preparation and paperwork. It can start to feel like a full-time job in itself, which is one of the many reasons why you should hire a child custody attorney near Owings Mills to do the heavy lifting for you. Your lawyer will guide you in collecting the evidence necessary to present a compelling argument in court.
If your child isn’t currently living with you, make an effort to contact your child frequently. Call or use video conferencing software to maintain your relationship with your child, and to help him or her cope with the significant changes of divorce. Each time you speak with your child, keep a record of the date, time, and duration. Make notes about whether the other parent attempted to discourage contact between you and your child. If your child is currently living with you, you can still keep a record of contact between your child and the other parent. If the other parent doesn’t have frequent contact, the judge might think that there isn’t much of a relationship between them. Alternatively, the judge might consider whether you are discouraging contact.
Family court judges frown upon contentious interactions between parents when a child is a witness. Never provoke an argument, and never contribute to one. Instead, keep a record of all the times your ex disparages you in front of your child, shows an unwillingness to co-parent, or shows signs of mental or emotional instability.
Judges like to see that both parents are encouraging the child to have a healthy relationship with the other parent. If your child currently lives with you, you should support a robust visitation schedule with the other parent. If you’ve moved out of the family home, make every effort to see your child regularly. Both parents should keep records of when the visitation occurred, how long it lasted, and whether the visiting parent was late for the pick-up or drop-off. Additionally, make notes about whether the child was returned to you hungry, unhappy, or injured—or with homework incomplete.
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.
Co-parenting is much more than just exchanging the kids for visitation. It’s the process of working collaboratively and amicably with your ex for the sake of your kids. Divorce experts tend to agree that co-parenting is the most effective way to raise kids who are well-adjusted and have healthy relationships with both parents, despite the parents’ divorce in the Owings Mills area.
Watch this quick video for some helpful tips on successful co-parenting. You’ll learn the value of reaching out to professionals, like counselors and divorce mediators. You’ll also learn that child custody and visitation agreements might be modified as circumstances change and the children grow older. Always remember to prioritize the well-being of the kids, and set aside the personal feelings you have toward your ex.
In most cases, getting married again after a divorce will not affect a parent’s obligation to pay child support or the right to receive it. Since divorce-related laws do vary from state to state, you should consult a family law attorney near Owings Mills for legal guidance for your specific situation. If you are the noncustodial parent who is paying child support, you should not expect to have the payments increased solely because you remarried. Child support law doesn’t confer responsibility for the children to the new spouse.
If you are the custodial parent who is receiving support payments, you should continue to receive the same amount as before you remarried, regardless of whether your household now has two incomes. Some custodial parents who remarry consider canceling the child support agreement altogether. However, it’s still the noncustodial parent’s obligation to provide for the children’s needs. If child support payments aren’t needed for daily expenses, they could be contributed to a college savings fund instead.
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
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.
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.
Arguably, divorce is more difficult for the children than for the parents. When you make an appointment with a family law attorney near Owings Mills, take the time to also schedule a consult with a family therapist. Even if the children don’t go to the therapist with you, he or she can help you learn how to protect your kids from the most harmful aspects of divorce. Additionally, consider divorce mediation, which may help both parents co-parent more effectively.
When you watch this video, you’ll hear directly from some children of divorce. They explain what they wish their parents knew when they were getting divorced. Some of their recommendations include: Never argue in front of the kids, never ask the children to pass messages between parents, and never use the children as leverage against the other parent.
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