Columbia Maryland Divorce Lawyers
Providing support and guidance for clients throughout Howard County
Divorce is a life-altering experience. One day you’re fully connected to another human being. The next day, after the divorce decree has been signed, you’re on your own. Ending a marriage can involve a great deal of anxiety and change; you deserve competent legal counsel that can provide the support you need while you are planning for a new future.
At McCabe Russell, PA, our Columbia divorce lawyers calmly review your assets and those of your partner, assess your situation, prioritize your needs and then plan how to proceed. If an amicable resolution is not feasible, we have the skills and resources to handle complex litigation in family courts in Howard County and throughout Maryland. We keep your and your children’s best interests in mind at all times.
What are the different types of divorce in Maryland?
There are two types of divorces in Maryland – a limited divorce and an absolute divorce. Most Maryland divorces are absolute divorces. In this kind of divorce, the marriage is formally dissolved, allowing the spouses to remarry if they so choose. Child custody, child support and alimony are negotiated, and the final decisions are part of the divorce agreement. If one spouse needs to amend or revise the decision, it must go through the court.
A limited divorce, which is akin to a legal separation, does not terminate the marriage. It does allow the couple to legally live separate and apart from each other until they are ready to divorce, or decide to live together again. Limited divorces will generally be granted if the couple is living apart without marital relations, or if one spouse has been cruel or deserted the other spouse. A limited divorce will also address child support, alimony and child custody.
What are grounds for divorce?
When both parties agree that a divorce is for the best, and have completely agreed on elements such as child support or alimony, then that couple may file for an uncontested divorce. If the parties have children, they must live apart for 12 full months in order to file under these grounds. Couples without minor children who are seeking an uncontested, absolute divorce can file for divorce under the grounds of mutual consent once they have come to an agreement on how they will divide their assets, and if there will be spousal support.
In dissolutions where there is disagreement, high levels of conflict, or other circumstances which would not allow for an uncontested divorce, or for mutual consent, the most common grounds for divorce in Maryland are as follows:
- Excessive vicious conduct
- A criminal conviction
Your first instinct may be to move the process forward as quickly as you can, especially if you are filing under mutual consent. We understand that desire, but we do want to stress that settlement agreements should not be rushed. Valuable rights to assets and income can be lost if the agreement is not handled properly. For starters, spouses need to understand that marital assets are not necessarily divided equally – they are divided equitably. Spouses have the right to claim future interests, such as pensions and other retirement benefits, if those rights have vested.
Which family matters must be resolved with the divorce?
Our Columbia divorce attorneys are experienced advocates. We are known for our ability to fully address every family law matter and our skill at understanding how all these issues are interdependent. The key issues that divorcing spouses must decide are:
- How does the equitable division of marital property take place? Marital property is the property acquired during the marriage or may include the increase in value during the marriage of separate property each spouse brought into the marriage. Part of our duty as legal counsel is to identify all the spousal assets, including hidden assets, and to properly value them with the help of financial experts. We are especially skilled at negotiating agreements and arguing for court decisions that give our clients their priority assets in return for bargaining away non-priority items.
- Will one party pay alimony to the other? Maryland allows alimony during litigation (alimony pendente lite) so that the status quo is preserved, and the more affluent spouse does not pressure the other spouse into an unfair settlement. The state allows for rehabilitative alimony if one spouse is able to pay, and fairness dictates they should help the other spouse get an education or learn a trade. Indefinite, long-term alimony is rarely awarded any more, though it may be applicable if one person is disabled or there are other unique situations that limit the ability to earn a living.
- How is child custody decided in Maryland? Parents are, under Maryland law, entitled to time with their children, barring any extenuating circumstances. Parents need to resolve who will have legal custody (make long-term decisions such as education, health and religion) of the children and who will have physical custody (who the child stays with daily). Both types of custody can be shared (called joint custody) or may be the sole responsibility of one parent. If child custody cannot be determined by the parents, then the Court will do it for you.
- How is child support calculated? The court awards child support based on a specific set of guidelines. Parental income, including alimony and support from previous marriages, time spent with the minor children, as well as costs associated with education, healthcare, extra-curricular activities and additional considerations could all play a role in the Court’s decision.
How much does it cost to get a divorce in Howard County?
The cost of your divorce will depend on the circumstances of your case. Every divorce is unique and each one brings its own complications and controversies. There are court costs and other fees that everyone will pay, but those will vary depending on what your divorce entails, and how long it takes to reach an agreement between both parties. Every divorce has its own set of challenges and financial considerations. The skilled Columbia divorce attorneys from McCabe Russell will make sure that every client has a clear understanding how they can help control costs to keep their divorce from ruining their financial future.
Talk with our strong Columbia divorce lawyers as soon as possible
Don’t suffer in silence or worry about what rights you have. The sooner you contact McCabe Russell, PA, the earlier we can put your mind at ease. Early planning and strategizing maximizes the type of financial justice you will get and minimizes the emotional stress of divorce. Our lawyers do explain your rights and work to make you comfortable and happy with your choices. Please call 443-812-1435 or complete our contact form to learn more, or to reserve a consultation at our offices in Columbia, Fulton, Rockville or Bethesda.