What is incarceration?
Incarceration is also referred to as imprisonment. If a person has been convicted of a particular crime, they may be ordered to serve time in jail. This is usually only mandated if the person was found guilty of committing a felony and/or misdemeanor.
How does incarceration affect a marriage?
Incarceration can certainly strain a marital union. The incarcerated parent may miss out on many special moments during their children’s formative years. It can be difficult to explain to younger children why their parent isn’t at home or why they are in jail.
If a parent was incarcerated due to a violent act that they committed against their spouse, child or other people, it may be the beginning of the end of the marriage. The offender could reasonably be seen as a potential threat if they are ever released and returned to society. The crime that was committed could even be reason enough for the other partner to consider asking for a divorce.
It may be difficult for the person who was jailed to reintegrate after their prison term has ended. They may be viewed differently by their family members, friends and peers, even if they were found innocent of their charges or paroled. Serving time often carries a negative stigma that doesn’t disappear overnight. The person may need to spend extra time and effort to rebuild trust and credibility and it can also make finding gainful employment challenging.
Can I use incarceration as a reason for divorce in the state of Maryland?
Incarceration may be used as divorce grounds in Maryland. The person who was incarcerated must have been sentenced to a prison term of at least 3 years or longer and served at least 12 months of that sentence. The time served is usually consecutive and uninterrupted.
The person who was incarcerated will have been charged and convicted with a felony or misdemeanor. There are many different types of crimes that Maryland currently recognizes as felonies or misdemeanors. They typically carry a minimum fine and/or jail term. Those penalties can be increased if the offender was found guilty of other crimes.
How can I verify incarceration?
Incarceration is easy to confirm. The person’s sentencing and prison records can be brought to the court when the initial divorce petition has been filed. The Maryland Public Information Act has also officially listed criminal records as public records. Anyone who wants to view that information can do so online whenever they want.
Before the offender can be served with divorce papers, you should obtain their inmate number. A private process server will then serve them with the respective paperwork. A sheriff will accompany the process server in prison. An Affidavit of Service of Process will then be filled out by the process server. This affidavit will also be filed with the court in the district or county where you are currently residing in.
What can I do if my spouses used incarceration as grounds for divorce?
It’s up to you whether you choose to cooperate with the divorce request. You can accept the summons that are served to you or you can refute the claim and even file a counter-claim if you wish. Just keep in mind that it can take more time for your case to be evaluated and decided if you disagree with the petition. If you ignore or don’t respond to the complaint, it’s possible that a judge may make a default decision in favor of the plaintiff (the person who filed the divorce petition).
You can work together with your former partner on a marital settlement agreement, even if you are currently incarcerated for your crime. Child visitation, child support, alimony, asset division and other important matters can be determined. Your children’s best interests should be the top priority when making these arrangements. The judge presiding over the divorce proceedings will evaluate the agreement. They will take your prison sentence into consideration, as it may affect child visitation and your ability to pay child support and alimony.
If both parties cannot agree on those arrangements, the judge will make those decisions for them. The incarcerated person’s current situation, the employment status of the other spouse, each spouse’s current age and physical condition, the ages of their children and other factors will be evaluated when those arrangements are created. Visitation schedules are often intended to be flexible, and it may be necessary to work around inclement weather, the incarcerated spouse’s prison term, unexpected medical concerns and other issues that may occur from time to time.
Incarceration is usually used as a reason for divorce in absolute divorces. It could be given as a reason for asking for a limited divorce, but that usually only happens if the person’s jail term is about to end. Limited divorces can give couples more time to figure out their living arrangements, child custody, alimony, child visitation and property division matters, but they are temporary. An absolute divorce will end a marriage. Couples can’t opt for an absolute divorce and then decide to change their minds. However, they can remarry if they want once that divorce has been finalized. Remarriage will end any child support or alimony payment requirements.
Divorce can be devastating. Children may feel like they’re to blame. No matter what happens, it’s important for parents to reinforce the fact that they will always love their children and that they are not the reason for the end of the marriage.
If you’re contemplating filing for divorce or have been served with divorce papers, give us a call today. You can set up a no-obligation consultation that works with your schedule. Our experienced professionals will listen to what you have to say and recommend possible actions that can be taken. We can even represent you in the divorce proceedings if you want.
We’ll work hard to help you regain your life. It won’t be easy. Success rarely happens overnight. There will be stressful days and nights, but if you’re willing to commit to the process and do the work that’s required, you’ll be back to spending quality time enjoying the company of treasured friends and family members before you realize it.