Filing for Divorce in Maryland
Even those who want a divorce typically find that it is a sad and stressful experience. At Jimeno & Gray, our dedicated Maryland divorce lawyers have the experience and knowledge to help you through this difficult phase of your life. Clients choose us to handle their complicated family law matters because:
- We understand the common reasons couples file for divorce, Maryland’s requirements to establish grounds for divorce, and the financial and personal costs that come with the end of a marriage.
- As your divorce attorneys, our objective is to do what’s necessary to protect you and your assets, and to help you make informed decisions about what’s best for you and your children.
- Jimeno & Gray is a small divorce law firm that looks after each client individually. We care, and you’ll notice that when you come into one of our offices. We strongly believe you’ll appreciate the time and attention our team will dedicate to you and your case.
If you are considering divorce in Maryland, please contact us by phone, online, or by visiting one of our conveniently located offices in Glen Burnie, Annapolis, or Columbia (Howard County). We empathize with what you are going through and will stand by your side to guide you toward your goals for moving forward with your life.
Divorce Lawyer in Glen Burnie, Columbia, Annapolis & Anne Arundel County
When you meet with our experienced Maryland divorce attorneys, we will walk you through what to expect and what steps need to be taken to protect yourself.
The State of Maryland recognizes two types of divorce:
- Absolute divorce, or the termination of a marriage
- Limited divorce, otherwise known as legal separation, which does not end the marriage
To obtain an absolute divorce, you must establish grounds, or reasons, for ending the marriage. Maryland recognizes the following as grounds for divorce:
- Mutual consent (or an uncontested divorce). If you and your spouse do not have any minor children in common and you submit to the court a written settlement agreement that resolves all issues, a judge will quickly grant a divorce decree.
- One-year separation. You and your spouse must have lived separately and apart from one another for a continuous period of one year, and not had sexual relations during that time.
- Adultery. One spouse has had voluntary sexual intercourse with a person who is not his or her spouse.
- Desertion. An unjustified abandonment (leaving the home) with intention of terminating the marriage may be cited under certain circumstances.
- Cruel treatment. Your spouse has treated you or his or her minor child with violence or cruelty.
- Insanity. A licensed medical doctor has determined that your spouse is legally insane, and your spouse has been in a mental institution or hospital for at least three years prior to filing for a divorce.
- Incarceration. Your spouse has been convicted of a crime, and has been sentenced to three or more years in prison. When filing for divorce, your spouse must have served at least 12 months of the sentence.
A limited divorce is not required before obtaining an absolute divorce, but some people (or couples) seek one if their divorce is contested (meaning they and their spouse disagree) and they are unable to establish grounds for an absolute divorce. Sometimes a person already living apart from his or her spouse will seek a legal separation to help settle issues of contention, particularly issues of monetary support.
What to Expect in a Limited Divorce
In a decree of limited divorce, the judge may establish any of the following:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Use and possession of property (such as the family home)
Once a limited divorce is granted, absent other grounds, the couple can maintain the separation for a year and then file for an absolute divorce. During this time, the couple may work to come to agreement on the issues listed above.
What to Expect in an Absolute Divorce
In an absolute (final) divorce decree, the judge will settle issues like those above in a binding judicial order. These issues are typically at the heart of any divorce that ends a marriage of several years:
- Payment of alimony (spousal support): Alimony (money) paid by one spouse to the other may be temporary, rehabilitative (awarded for a specific period), or indefinite, which is rare.
- Custody of children: Custody may be awarded to only one parent (“sole custody”) or both parents (in “joint” custody), a shared responsibility for raising and caring for the children. “Split” custody occurs when two or more children are involved, and each parent takes sole custody of one or more of them. Custody of a child may be legal (one parent has the right to make major decisions regarding a minor child) or physical (making a home for the child and making day-to-day decisions while the child lives with the parent).
- Payment of child support: One spouse may be required to pay child support to the other. Regardless, both parents remain legally required to support their minor-age children (i.e., 18 years old or younger and unemancipated).
- Division of property: If the individuals seeking a divorce cannot agree how property belonging to both of them should be divided, the judge may order the property sold, with proceeds divided between the spouses. This may include houses, motor vehicles, the contents of bank accounts, and other assets.
- Use of last name: A spouse may ask the court to change his or her name back to the name used before the marriage. These requests are usually granted.
Obviously, it is better for all concerned, especially any children, if a divorcing couple can settle their issues amicably. We recognize, of course, that this is often not the case. This is why it is important to retain the services of an experienced Maryland divorce attorney.
A divorce agreement can be financially ruinous if your interests are not protected as it is drawn. You could be forced to divest yourself of assets and/or sell off personal property that you treasure. You could lose your home or even access to your children.
To negotiate a fair divorce agreement, you need an experienced Maryland family law attorney who will first listen to and understand your needs. He or she must be able to negotiate the terms of your divorce with a balance of toughness to protect your interests, and an openness that allows you and your spouse to cooperate and resolve the outstanding issues between you.
Contact Our Maryland Divorce Lawyers Today
Marriage is legal contract, and divorce is a legal process that concludes with a binding legal order, as well. The emotions, legal questions, and concerns inherent in a divorce can lead to an agreement that damages your future financially and personally. Don’t file for separation or divorce in Maryland without qualified legal counsel to guide you.
Contact Jimeno & Gray, P.A., for dedicated legal assistance from an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer who will protect your rights and interests as your marriage ends. Our divorce lawyers can meet with you in Glen Burnie, Annapolis, or Columbia (Howard County) at your convenience. Contact us today.