Tackling All The Issues That Arise In Divorce
At Haspel & McLeod, P.C., our attorneys apply their skills and depth of experience to helping our clients through the divorce process successfully and with a minimum of stress. In many ways, dissolving a marriage is like closing down a business, requiring redistribution of assets and debts and realignment of responsibilities. There are also emotionally charged issues, such as child custody, to be resolved. Whether your divorce is amicable, contentious or somewhere in between, our experienced Frederick and Rockville divorce attorneys can protect your rights while achieving optimal solutions.
Evaluating Divorce Vs. Separation As The Best Solution
Couples are sometimes on the fence about whether they want to dissolve their marriage completely. A separation can help parties determine whether they may be able to reconcile after time spent apart. Maryland law provides for a formal separation – known as a limited divorce – by which the spouses either agree upon or ask the court to decide issues of child custody, child support and alimony. We advise our clients on the economic and logistical advantages of pursuing the separation option.
Ground For Divorce In Maryland
Being physically separated for one year allows either spouse to seek a no-fault divorce if no reconciliation is achieved. A divorce on this ground requires that the spouses have not cohabited during the one-year period. This is generally satisfied if the parties are no longer having sexual relations and are physically living apart. Spouses can also obtain a divorce based on mutual consent, without a separation period, as long as they enter a settlement agreement providing for the care, custody, access and support of minor or dependent children, if any, as well as a resolution of all issues arising from the marriage.
Maryland law also specifies fault grounds for divorce, such as adultery, desertion, insanity and a spouse’s criminal conviction. Another fault ground is cruelty or excessively vicious conduct toward a spouse or child. This includes not only domestic violence but also mental abuse, such as controlling behavior, taunting, threats of violence, isolation from friends or family, and other misconduct that may seriously impair the health or happiness of the other spouse. Even when domestic violence is not a ground for divorce, our attorneys help victims seek orders of protection during the divorce proceeding.
Dealing With All Property Settlement And Parenting Issues Of Divorce
Our skilled divorce lawyers devise legal strategies that aid in establishing the property division, support and custody arrangements that are optimal for our clients’ circumstances. They will protect your rights and interests with respect to:
- Property division: Maryland is an equitable distribution state, providing for fair – though not necessarily equal – division of property that is considered marital in nature. Marital property means any assets acquired during the marriage except those received by one spouse as a gift or inheritance or otherwise agreed to be the separate property of one spouse. Any income directly traceable to separate property, such as interest or rent, may also be treated as separate. When the court distributes marital property, it considers such factors as the age and health of both parties, the duration of the marriage, each party’s income and earning potential, the value of the martial property in question and other relevant factors.
- Alimony: A divorce court can award alimony to either spouse. It may be rehabilitative, calling for payments over a finite period so that a spouse can become self-supporting, or indefinite, providing for a spouse who is incapable of self-support due to health, age or other factors. There can also be a grant of temporary alimony meant to maintain the standard of living as the divorce proceeds.
- Child support: Both parents are obligated to provide for their children financially. Child support is calculated based on the income of each parent, the average number of nights the child spends with each parent, child care expenses, health insurance costs and other relevant factors.
- Child custody: There are two aspects to child custody: physical, relating to the child’s primary home and daily caregiver, and legal, defining both parents’ rights to participate in important decisions about how the child will be raised.
We also help clients seeking enforcement orders of child and spousal support or modification orders when there are changes in circumstances.
Helping Spouses Find Common Ground And Avoid Litigation
When both spouses are committed to resolving disputes, it is possible to reach a reasonable outcome, even when parties do not always agree, using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as:
- Mediation: This form of ADR can allow parties the flexible structure they need to come up with creative solutions to their disputes with the guidance of a neutral party rather than have a court impose a more generic decision about property division, support or child custody arrangements.
- Collaborative divorce: Our skilled attorneys can assist with this process of negotiating a divorce agreement with the aid of expert witnesses who give studied analyses of the most contentious issues. Like mediation, collaborative divorce occurs out of court and off the record, giving the parties latitude to air their concerns fully and frankly.
Our lawyers are also skilled in resolving issues particular to partners who are and are not married. These can include custody and visitation disputes between birth parents and de facto parents, the latter of whom have raised children as their own even though they have not acquired formal adoptive rights.
Contact Our Experienced Lawyers For A Consultation
Our legal team at Haspel & McLeod, P.C., represents individuals and families throughout Frederick, Montgomery and Howard counties in all matters relating to divorce. To schedule your initial consultation at our Frederick or Rockville office, call us at 301-850-7234 or contact us online.