Divorce Lawyers in Towson, MD
Representing the legal rights of individuals in Maryland seeking to end their marriage.
Getting a divorce is often an extremely difficult decision and involves the end of a person’s primary relationship. In many instances, emotions are running extremely high and the parties to the marriage are unable to communicate in a constructive manner. Unfortunately, when a couple decides to divorce, there are often many issues that need to be addressed. These issues can affect both parties’ finances, their ability to effectively parent their children, their living situation, and in some cases, even their source of income. For this reason, it is critical for anyone seeking a divorce attorney in Towson to speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
Grounds for a Divorce
Unlike some other states, Maryland does not recognize “irreconcilable differences” as a legitimate reason to end a marriage. For this reason, people who wish to get a divorce often must establish grounds to end their marriage. The recognized grounds for a Towson divorce are as follows :
- A 12-month separation
- Excessively vicious conduct
- Certain criminal convictions
No-fault vs. Fault Divorce
When one party to a marriage establishes that there are grounds to end the marriage, it is considered a “fault” divorce, meaning that one person engaged in some form of marital misconduct that justified ending the marriage. Importantly, a fault divorce is often sought when one party wants to establish such misconduct for the purposes of alimony and child custody determinations. There are two “no-fault” grounds for divorce under Maryland law – A 12-month separation or “mutual consent,” the latter of which was only approved by the Maryland Legislature in October of 2015. There are four conditions that must be met in order to obtain a mutual consent divorce in Maryland, which are as follows :
- The couple has no minor children in common
- The couple has entered into a settlement agreement addressing both property rights and alimony that is submitted to the court.
- Neither party requests that the court set aside their settlement agreement
- Both parties appear at the uncontested divorce hearing
Not all issues that arise during a divorce need to be litigated in order to be resolved. In fact, in many instances, a couple can come to mutually agreeable terms that may be formalized through the use of a settlement agreement. A settlement agreement is simply a contract entered into by both parties that details the way that issues such as alimony, child support, and the division of marital property will be handled. Importantly, it is not necessary for divorcing couples to file their settlement agreement with the court. In some cases, a settlement agreement may be incorporated into a divorce decree, meaning that its terms may be modified at a later date by the court. In others, a settlement agreement may stipulate that it will exist as a separate contract even after a divorce decree, meaning that would not be subject to modification by the court.
Child custody and support
Child custody and child support are often the most contested issues in a divorce in which there are children involved. Both of these determinations are made based upon the best interests of the child, and courts have significant discretion in making decisions regarding either matter. Importantly, courts are able to consider virtually any factor that they deem relevant in making these determinations, so it is critical for divorcing parents to retain legal counsel who is familiar with representing individuals in child custody or child support disputes.
Individuals who are considering getting a divorce or have already started the process should contact an experienced attorney. In many cases, the assistance of a lawyer can make the process go much more smoothly and can help you ensure that your best interests are well-represented.