Howard and Montgomery County Divorce Lawyers Fighting for You
Serving clients from offices in Columbia, Fulton, Bethesda and Rockville
For most couples, the decision to end the marriage is a difficult one. Taking one life and making it two is not an easy process. There are assets to divide, perhaps children to protect, and a reordering of how you define yourself. Becoming “I” after being “we” can have a larger emotional toll on you than you might think, even in circumstances where the separation was mutual and beneficial.
At McCabe Russell, PA, our accomplished divorce attorneys in Howard and Montgomery County understand that every divorce experience is unique. We are committed to clear communication and providing our clients with high-quality representation. We are prepared to guide you through every aspect of your divorce. From our offices in Fulton, Columbia, Bethesda and Rockville, we provide all of our clients with professional and knowledgeable service.
Absolute vs. limited divorce
In Maryland, we have two types of divorce: absolute and limited. Each has its own grounds and legal and financial implications. A limited divorce is what many people think of when they consider a legal separation: the marriage is not legally terminated, the two parties may not remarry (until an absolute divorce is granted) and property is not divided, either by the courts or in accord with a pre- or post-nuptial agreement. An absolute divorce is, as the name implies, entirely unequivocal. In an absolute divorce, the marriage has formally ended, and each spouse may go his or her own way. Child support and custody are formalized, and assets and debts are divided.
Grounds for divorce
One of the more challenging aspects of filing for divorce in Maryland is choosing the grounds under which you wish to file. Many clients, we have discovered, are unsure how to choose – and many are served with papers which list an incorrect ground. In these cases, a no-fault divorce may be the way to proceed, provided the couple has refrained from cohabitating for at least one year without interruption. It is possible to file for an uncontested divorce under no-fault grounds, wherein the 12-month separation requirement waived, but only if you and your spouse do not have minor children.
If a no-fault divorce is not feasible, you must choose one of the following grounds:
- Cruelty/excessively vicious conduct. Physical, sexual, mental or emotional abuse, either of a spouse or the minor child of the complaining spouse, is grounds for divorce. Even a single act of cruelty can be grounds if severe physical harm is performed or threatened.
- Desertion. Desertion constitutes maintaining separate living situations for a full year, purposefully by one spouse but not agreed to by the other, and without any expectation of reconciliation.
- Separation. By contrast, a separation is mutually agreed upon, but also lasting at least a year, without leading to a reconciliation or reasonable expectation thereof. There is also the expectation that the two spouses will not engage in sexual or romantic activity during this time period.
- Adultery. Having a sexual relationship of any kind with anyone aside from one’s spouse, is considered valid grounds for an absolute divorce in Maryland.
- Mutual consent. This option is only applicable in marriages where there are no minor children and allows both parties to come to an agreement on the finality of their union.
- Criminal conviction. Conviction of a felony, or misdemeanor if the sentence is at least three years long and the person has already served one year, may be grounds for absolute divorce.
- Insanity. In situations where one spouse has been confined for at least three years in a facility to address mental health issues, the remaining spouse may file for an absolute divorce.
Determining which type of divorce is right for your circumstances often requires the help of a qualified Howard and Montgomery County divorce lawyer, as does documenting any applicable grounds.
Helping you through your divorce in Montgomery and Howard Counties
Some see divorce as a destruction process, rending families into small islands, between which little information or emotion travels. At McCabe Russell, PA, we see the divorce process differently: we are creating a new, more functional structure that is better able to fulfill the needs of all participants. Our confident and educated Howard and Montgomery County divorce attorneys in Fulton, Columbia, Bethesda and Rockville have the knowledge and experience developed by working with families to make strong plans for future the well-being of all. Call McCabe Russell, PA at 443-917-3347 or fill out this contact form to schedule an appointment.