Following are details on how family law cases are handled in the state of Maryland. If you need help with one of these matters and are located in Hagerstown, Smithsburg, Boonsboro, Williamsport, Hancock, or elsewhere in Washington County, we can help. Please contact us today.
In the state of Maryland there are two different forms of divorce: Absolute and Limited. The most common type is Absolute Divorce, which requires legal grounds for a separation and discontinuance of the marriage. Such legal grounds include, but are not limited to: adultery, cruelty, 12-month separation, insanity, etc. Commonly, Absolute Divorce cases are based off the grounds of a 12-month separation, where as a Limited Divorce is for those couples that are currently undergoing a separation but have not completed the full 12-month separation period required for an absolute divorce and/or do not have the full qualifications to be classified as absolute.
In the state of Maryland during a divorce, the child and/or children born of the marriage will ultimately be placed in the custody of one and/or both parents. Until each parent’s custodial rights are determined, whether via an agreement or via a court hearing, custody will remain undecided and both parents are presumed to have equal rights to the child/children.
In the state of Maryland, the child/children born to unwed parties will ultimately be placed in the custody of one and/or both parents. Until each parent’s custodial rights are determined, whether via an agreement or via a court hearing, custody will remain undecided and both parents are presumed to have equal rights to the child/children.
There are many different types of custody including but not limited to: Temporary Custody, Sole Legal Custody, Primary Physical Custody, Joint Physical Custody, and Joint Legal Custody.
The standard for a custodial determination is the “best interest” of the child and/or children. Types of custody include:
- Temporary Custody - “Pendente Lite” is the form of custody prior to the official custodial determination or trial. The child and/or children are placed, Pendente Lite in the custody of the parent that is deemed by the Court to be in the child and/or children’s “best interest”.
- Sole Legal Custody - Where one parent has full decision making authority, i.e. education, religion, discipline, medical care and other major matters relating to the child and/or children’s general welfare.
- Primary Physical Custody - Where one parent has the primary right and obligation to care for and provide a home for the child and/or children. This is the parent whom the child and/children will spend the majority of their time with.
- Joint Legal Custody - Where both parties share equally in the making decisions pertaining the child and/or children’s general welfare, i.e. education, religion, discipline, medical care and other major matters. There are instances where one of the parties will have tie-breaking authority on major issues if the parties are unable to reach an agreement. Decision making on certain major issues can also be allocated, i.e. one parent has decision making authority on education while another has decision making authority on extracurricular activities.
- Joint Physical Custody - Where the child and/or children have two residences where they spend at least 35% of their time with one parent.
In the state of Maryland children are usually supported through committed relationships, marriages, and/or unions; however when those relationships end and/or undergo divorce the financial support of the child becomes a concern of the court. Thus brings “child support” where the non-custodial parent of the child and/or children gives a monthly stipend to the custodial parent in order to aid in supporting the upbringing of the child and/or children.
In the state of Maryland Protective Orders are given in stages, Interim, Temporary and Final. They are given to individuals who have shown by a preponderance of the evidence that they are in immediate danger of physical, emotional or other forms of harm and require immediate protection.
They are also given for a variety of reasons that include but are not limited to: Domestic Violence, Injury to minor child, attempted and committed sexual abuse, etc. They are meant to protect the victim from further harm and legally keeps the abuser from the victim at all costs. Violating a protective order is a criminal offence and can carry significant penalties. A protective order can remain in effect for up to one year and can be extended beyond the one year.
In the state of Maryland, those individuals who do not qualify for a protective order can be eligible for a peace order. A peace order states that any individual can acquire to have a peace order against another individual that is causing them disturbance and from whom they wish to be refrained from contact.
Separation Agreement/ Marital or Property Settlement Agreement
In the state of Maryland a couple can arrange to have a separation agreement if there is little to no hope for reconciliation between the individuals and they have agreed to live separate and apart. Separation Agreements are favorable because it is a peaceful way of terminating and resolving all issues pertaining to dissolving a marriage. When an agreement is made the support of any children is taken into consideration along with the support of either spouse, division of marital and non-marital properties and monetary awards. A separation agreement does not terminate the existing marriage and/or union, additionally it does not allow for either of the parties to remarry or commit adultery during the separation.
Prenuptial Agreement/Antenuptial Agreement
In the state of Maryland, prior to marriage, the individuals involved may sign a prenuptial agreement also known as an antenuptial agreement . This agreement addresses the property rights before and during the marriage, and/or inheritance rights based on individuals and children or future children. Additionally they are presumed valid as long as the contract is properly written and the parties knowingly and willingly entered into the agreement.