Family Law

Contents

Gavel

Our law firm understands that going through a divorce or any family dispute in Court can be a very stressful and emotional experience. We will guide you through the process and fiercely advocate for you.

Divorce

In Maryland, you can obtain an Absolute Divorce or a Limited Divorce. An Absolute Divorce is one that actually dissolves the marriage. A Limited Divorce is treated like a legal separation and is commonly used when a couple does not yet have grounds to obtain an absolute divorce. An absolute divorce decree can provide for alimony, child support, child custody, and the division of property. In Maryland, you must demonstrate a grounds for divorce. The most common ground for divorce is a 12 month separation, where a married couple lives separate and apart for 12 months without, cohabitation, or interruption before filing for divorce. Other grounds for an absolutes divorce includes Adultery, Desertion, and Cruelty and Excessively Vicious conduct,

Custody

Legal Custody

Legal Custody is the right to make long range and important decisions that relate to a minor child’s health, education, religion, discipline, and overall wellbeing.

A Court may award sole legal custody to one parent, or joint legal custody to both parents. Joint Legal custody means that parents must work together to share and discuss with each other all long range decisions related to the child’s overall wellbeing and upbringing. Also, one parent may be awarded “tie breaking” authority (the final say if there is a disagreement).

Physical Custody

Physical custody involves the time that a child spends with a parent and the ability to make decisions with regards to the child’s every day needs.

A Court may award sole physical custody to one parent, or shared physical custody to each parent. Shared physical custody means that the minor child spends at least 35% of the time with each parent.

The Court will determine custody by evaluating several factors to determine the “best interest” of the minor child.

Visitation

It is a parent’s right to have reasonable visitation with their child. Courts do not often restrict or limit visitation with a parent unless that visitation would put the minor child’s safety and welfare at risk. Some examples of factors that could possibly create limitations or restrictions on visitation include: substance and/or alcohol abuse, or spousal and/or child abuse. If there are certain factors present that could put the minor child’s safety at risk, the Court may order restrictions on a parent’s access with the minor child such as supervised visitation.

Maryland Child Support

The Maryland Child Support guidelines calculates child support based on each parent’s income using an “income-shares” model. If the parents combined annual income is $180,000 or less, the Court will calculate child support through the support guidelines using the percentage of each parents combined income and the number of overnights that each parent has with the minor child. The Court may deviate from the guidelines if the annual combined income for both parents exceeds $180,000. The Court will always take into consideration the cost of work related childcare expenses, the child’s extraordinary medical expenses and health insurance, and other extraordinary expenses such as private school.

Alimony

Alimony refers to spousal support. In Maryland, there are three types of alimony: i) Temporary (temporary payment made while the case is pending), ii) Rehabilitative (a set period of time to allow a spouse to become self supporting), and iii) Indefinite (permanent spousal support). There is no set calculation or guideline used to calculate alimony. However, the Court must consider a number of factors when making a decision to award alimony to a spouse.

Property Distributions

Property distributions are often determined by dividing up the property that you and your spouse own and deciding if the property is considered “marital.” Marital property is all property acquired during your marriage. Examples of marital property may include your house, business, pensions, IRA’s, 401K’s, jewelry, bank accounts, furniture, stocks, and bonds. Examples of non- marital property includes property acquired before your marriage, a third party gift, or an inheritance given to one party.

You and your spouse can divide your property by mutual agreement. However, if you and your spouse cannot agree how your property should be divided, then the Court can also make a decision for you.