Baltimore Family Attorney
A Baltimore family attorney can help you navigate the myriad of legal issues involving family relationships. While most people associate family law with divorce, family attorneys help clients at all stages of a relationship — from the very beginning to the very end.
Marriage legally unites two people. A marriage is legally recognized if you:
- Apply for and receive a marriage license,
- Participate in a marriage ceremony with an authorized official (such as a judge or member of the clergy), and
- File a properly signed marriage license with your county clerk.
Maryland was one of the first states to recognize same-sex marriages (including out-of-state marriages). However, you cannot form a common law marriage (when a couple lives together but never formally married) in Maryland.
While marriage is romantic, it also involves the merging of your legal and financial interests. Many couples incorrectly assume that nuptial agreements are only for celebrities and the very wealthy. However, you may also benefit from a pre-nup or post-nup under certain circumstances. A properly written nuptial agreement can:
- Protect your personal assets,
- Help you avoid liability for your spouse’s debts,
- Ensure that children from a past relationship inherit certain assets, and
- Provide you with a sense of security.
And, if your marriage dissolves, a nuptial agreement may lead to a quicker and less contentious divorce. If you are interested in a nuptial agreement, contact an experienced family attorney for more information.
Unfortunately, many marriages and relationships deteriorate over time. While divorce is difficult, it is sometimes necessary. In Maryland, there are two types of divorce: limited and absolute.
- Limited divorce: You and your spouse live separately and resolve some financial and child custody issues. However, you are still considered legally married. Some couples file for limited divorce before pursuing an absolute divorce.
- Absolute divorce: A complete termination of your marriage.
Maryland only permits an absolute divorce under certain circumstances. To learn more, contact an experienced Baltimore family attorney.
While divorce can quickly become contentious, many spouses are able to resolve their issues without extensive litigation. In these cases, you may enter a separation agreement with the courts. A separation agreement is essentially a contract between you and your spouse that distributes your property, sets a child custody schedule, and may award alimony. If you cannot agree to the term of your divorce, a judge will then resolve your dispute at a trial and issue a court order.
Child Custody and Visitation
Child custody involves two issues:
- Physical custody: the right to spend time with your child and make decisions about the child’s daily needs, and
- Legal custody: the ability to make important decisions about your child’s upbringing (such as decisions about medical care, education, and religion).
Due to their importance, child custody issues are a common area of dispute between parents. Typically, the courts encourage parents to resolve custody issues on their own through a joint custody agreement. However, if you cannot agree on child custody, the court will take over and award custody based on the child’s best interests.
Parents (whether married or unmarried) have a legal obligation to support their children. In Maryland, child support calculations rely on a series of guidelines. These guidelines consider each parent’s income, expenses related to the child’s care, and other factors. Under certain circumstances, you can modify child support. If you need help obtaining or modifying a child support order, contact a family attorney.
Domestic Violence and Protective Orders
If you or your child are a victim of domestic violence, your safety is a top priority. First, it is important to document your abuse by contacting law enforcement. The authorities will subsequently investigate your case and may press criminal charges against the abuser. Additionally, a Baltimore family lawyer can help you get a protective order (sometimes called a restraining order) against your significant other.
And, if you are facing domestic violence allegations, it is important to contact a lawyer. Allegations of child or spousal abuse may impact your custody and other legal rights. All of your discussions with your family attorney are confidential and cannot be disclosed during either a civil or criminal case.
Bringing a child into your home is a joyful time. However, adoption is also a legal process. A Baltimore family attorney can help you navigate the adoption system. Our lawyers assist clients with stepparent adoptions, agency adoptions, and independent adoptions.
Consult With a Baltimore Family Attorney
Whether you are entering or departing a relationship, it’s important to consult with a Baltimore family attorney. At James E. Crawford, Jr. and Associates, we provide our clients with personalized solutions, as well as tenacious legal representation in a wide variety of family law issues. Contact us for a consultation today.