Family Law

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Divorce

The state of Maryland believes in keeping the family unit together whenever possible. That is why the process of getting divorced is one that is often lengthy and overwhelming while being impossible to navigate on your own.

Two Types of Divorce

There are two types of Divorce in Maryland - absolute and limited. A limited divorce is a legal separation of a married couple. The courts will decide child custody, child support, and alimony during a limited divorce, but will not make any decisions about property division. After a court grants a limited divorce, you are still legally married and cannot remarry another person. You also must reside in separate locations for the court to eventually grant an absolute divorce.

Once an absolute divorce is granted, both parties can remarry, and all issues related to child custody, child support, alimony, and division of property must be decided. You also must be able to meet one of the state-mandated grounds for divorce for an absolute divorce to be granted. If you don't meet one of these conditions, you cannot get divorced.

Two Types of Divorce

To be granted an absolute divorce in the state of Maryland, you must meet the conditions of one of the following:

  • Mutual Consent - In a mutual consent divorce, both parties have to agree on the division of assets and property before appearing in court. Any outstanding issue will hold up the process. However, there cannot be any minor children involved in a mutual consent divorce. Even if both parties agree on every aspect of child custody, child support, alimony, and the division of assets and personal property, they are ineligible for a mutual consent divorce if they have a child.

  • 1-year separation - This is the most common way to get a divorce in Maryland. If both parties are living apart for one full calendar year, they may be granted a divorce. However, they must live in separate homes, abstain from marital relations and live completely separate lives during that time. The clock on the one year-separation will start over if there is any contact that could be considered "marital" in nature.

  • Adultery - Adultery is defined as having sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse. However, using adultery as the grounds for divorce is difficult because the courts require proof beyond confession and heresy. Sexual texts, buying gifts, going on dates with someone who is not your spouse is inappropriate, but unless sexual contact can be proven, adultery cannot be proven.

  • Desertion - Even if you wake up one morning and your spouse has left you; you cannot be granted a divorce until they have been gone a full year. Constructive desertion, when your spouse is still living in the home, but have emotionally deserted the relationship, is difficult to prove.

  • Abuse - Most of the time, a one-time altercation is not proof of abuse unless it was a serious, life-threatening incident. Instead, abuse must be established as a pattern of behavior with documentation from medical professionals.

  • Incarceration/Committed - If your spouse is incarcerated and sentenced to more than three years in jail, or if your spouse is sent to a mental health institute for an extended period, you may be entitled to a divorce.

Child Custody | Child Support

When dealing with a child custody matter there are two aspects to take into consideration, legal and physical custody. Legal custody of a child means having the right and the obligation to make decisions about a child's upbringing. A parent with legal custody can make decisions about school, religion, and medical care, for example. Physical custody means the right to have the child physically live with you.

When determining child custody and visitation matters, it is important to carefully consider your children's current and future needs; keeping in mind each parent's economic situation and potential, care-taking ability and availability, as well as your child's bonds with their other siblings.

Child support is another issue to consider when dealing with child custody matters. Depending on the type of custody that is awarded to you it can affect how much if any child support you must pay.