Couples consult with a divorce lawyer for many reasons. Over time, spouses can drift apart. Others fear for their safety because of domestic violence and abuse. Or, you might be unable to forgive your spouse’s misconduct or infidelity. Regardless of your motivation, divorce is a difficult process. Before you file, you should learn about Maryland’s divorce laws and procedures.
Our attorneys at James E. Crawford Law and Associates represent clients in all types of divorce cases in Maryland, including:
- Children and Divorce;
- Contact Maryland Legal Separation Lawyers.
- Divorce and Bankruptcy;
- Divorce Costs;
- Divorce Mediation;
- Divorce Separation Agreements;
- Domestic Partnerships;
- High-asset Divorce;
- Maryland Divorce Laws;
- Men and Divorce;
- Military Divorce;
- Post-Judgment Modifications;
- Pre-Court Settlement;
- Preparing for Divorce;
- Same-Sex Marriage and Divorce;
- The Divorce Process;
- Uncontested Divorce;
- Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce;
- Women and Divorce;
Understanding Maryland’s Divorce Laws
If you or your family have been involved in an out-of-state family law issue, do not assume that the same rules apply in Annapolis, Baltimore, Bel Air, or Catonsville. Every state has its own divorce laws and procedures. If you do not follow Maryland’s rules, your divorce might be denied or delayed. And, you might lose valuable property and custody rights.
Unlike some states, Maryland couples cannot file for “legal separation.” Instead, there are two types of divorce in Maryland: absolute and limited.
- Absolute Divorce: Ends the marriage, allowing the spouses to remarry. An absolute divorce also distributes marital property and awards child custody, child support and alimony (when appropriate).
- Limited Divorce: Allows spouses to live separately, divide their marital property, and address issues such as child custody, child support, and alimony. A limited divorce does not terminate the marital relationship and neither spouse can remarry.
Depending on your circumstances, you might qualify for either an absolute or limited divorce. The court will award an absolute divorce if both parties consent or there is evidence of adultery, desertion, a 12-month separation, insanity, or cruelty. If you do not meet the time requirements for an absolute divorce, you can always request a limited divorce.
During a divorce, you and your spouse must address a series of legal issues. For most couples, child custody, support payments, and property distribution are their biggest concerns. Importantly, Maryland is not a “community property” state. During a divorce, the court must distribute your property fairly (rather than simply dividing it 50/50). The court will consider a series of factors, including the length of your marriage, your economic circumstances, and any misconduct when dividing marital property.
The Divorce Process
Before you file for divorce, you should take some time to think about your priorities and organize your evidence. During this time, consider:
- Your financial welfare: Can you cover your living expenses without support from your spouse? Do you need additional training or education before re-entering the workforce?
- Your parenting goals: How will you co-parent with your spouse after the divorce? How will you share custody and child-related expenses?
- Your personal safety: If you fear domestic violence, do you have a safety plan in place? Do you need a protective order?
- Your property: How should you and your spouse divide your marital property? Are there assets that you want or need after the divorce (such as the family home)? Do you have a valid nuptial agreement in place?
You should also compile documents addressing your finances, past domestic violence, and other issues. These documents will help your divorce lawyer understand the main issues and identify possible problems in your claim.
Once you have clearly stated objectives and well-organized documents, you should contact an experienced divorce lawyer. Your lawyer will help you fine tune your goals, craft a legal strategy that protects your interests, and file a Complaint for Divorce. Once your spouse responds to your complaint, you will begin the difficult process of wrapping up your marriage. This typically involves extensive negotiations and mediation (when a neutral third party helps you negotiate a divorce settlement).
If you cannot agree on the terms of your divorce, the court will schedule your case for trial. After both sides present their evidence and legal arguments, a circuit court judge will either approve or deny your divorce and make decisions about your property, time with your children, and need for spousal or child support. If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you have the right to appeal.
Do I Really Need a Divorce Lawyer?
Most people cannot properly handle a divorce without the guidance of an experienced Baltimore divorce lawyer. Divorces can quickly become emotionally charged and contentious — especially if the case involves children and significant assets (or debts). Without a lawyer, you might agree to an unfair divorce settlement or lose valuable time with your children. However, a lawyer can help you avoid a trial by negotiating a fair divorce settlement. And, if a trial is needed, a divorce lawyer will craft defenses to your spouse’s claims.
Consult with a Baltimore Divorce Lawyer
If you are considering a divorce, it’s in your best interest to consult with a Baltimore divorce lawyer. At James E. Crawford & Associates, we have guided our clients through divorces and legal separations since 1992. We provide compassionate advice and aggressive legal representation, ensuring that our clients receive their fair share of child custody and marital property. Contact us for a free and confidential evaluation today.
Call us today for a free initial consultation at 443-709-9999.