Prince Frederick Divorce Attorney Serving Southern Maryland
There are many ways to approach divorce in Maryland, including obtaining a divorce by mutual consent, mediating a resolution of outstanding issues, or litigating the matter in court. At Meng Law in Southern Maryland, our Prince Frederick divorce attorneys are committed to pursuing the option that most affordably and effectively meets our clients’ needs while protecting their rights and ensuring all issues in the divorce are resolved in their best interests. Learn more about Maryland divorce matters below, and contact Meng Law for help with divorce in Calvert, St. Mary’s, Charles or Prince George’s County.
Limited Divorce and Absolute Divorce in Maryland
Maryland divorce law recognizes two types of divorce. A limited divorce is akin to a legal separation in other states. The court may make orders regarding child custody, child support, alimony and the division of property, but the couple remains legally married. They may continue to live apart for religious, economic or other reasons, or they may eventually reconcile and return to married life together. An absolute divorce, on the other hand, legally dissolves the union and leaves each individual free to marry another.
There are several fault-based grounds under which a divorce proceeding can be initiated immediately, but in order to obtain a no-fault divorce, the couple must first experience a continuous one-year separation from each other. A couple who wish to divorce under no-fault grounds may seek a limited divorce during their period of separation so they can benefit from the court’s temporary orders, until such orders are finally decided in an absolute divorce once the one-year separation requirement has been met. If they have a full agreement and do not wish to wait the one-year period, they may file for a Mutual Consent Divorce.
Approaches to a Maryland Divorce: Mutual Consent, Mediation, Litigation
If the parties can agree on alimony, property division, child custody and child support, they can create a written agreement on these matters and submit it to the court for approval. This is known as a divorce by mutual consent. If any issues are contested, the parties may try divorce mediation to resolve their differences (mediation is required in Maryland if child custody issues are contested). The alternative to mutual consent or mediation is to litigate contested issues in court. Meng Law divorce lawyers are experienced and proficient in all settings and can provide the right level of support to make sure your needs are met in divorce.
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is an amount of money paid by one former spouse to the other for a period of time after the divorce. Alimony in Maryland can be rehabilitative or indefinite. Rehabilitative alimony is meant to provide financial assistance while an individual gains the education or employment needed to become self-supporting. Rehabilitative alimony is preferred by courts in Maryland and usually ordered for a period between two and 10 years. If the individual can’t become self-supporting due to circumstances such as age or health, or if the former spouses have an unconscionably disparate standard of living post-divorce, it may be appropriate to award alimony indefinitely.
Alimony is not automatically ordered in a divorce. One party must request spousal support and be able to prove the need for it and the other party’s ability to pay. The court will consider a number of factors related to the spouses and the marriage in making an alimony decision, including for instance each spouse’s contributions to the household during the marriage.
An important issue to be determined in the divorce is the division of the couple’s marital property. Marital property refers to all income, assets and debts acquired by either person or the couple together during the marriage, except for certain gifts or inheritance given specifically to one spouse. Each party leaves with the separate property they brought into the marriage (assuming it hasn’t been transformed into marital property), but the marital property has to be divided in a marital settlement agreement or by the court.
A court dividing marital property is required to make an “equitable distribution” of the property. What is equitable, or fair, may be different from a 50/50 equal split, depending on the circumstances. The court will consider a number of factors in making an equitable distribution of marital property, including each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, how the assets were acquired. Meng Law attorneys can help guide the judge regarding these factors with strong legal arguments and factual evidence. Our divorce lawyers can also help ensure that all marital property is properly characterized and accurately valued. We can make sure the other party is not hiding assets, overvaluing property, undervaluing a business or underreporting self-employment income.
Get the Help You Need with Your Southern Maryland Divorce
Divorce is not easy, but when it’s time to make a break, the Prince Frederick divorce attorneys at Meng Law can advise you and represent throughout the process to help you exit your marriage efficiently and effectively, with your rights and interests protected now and into the future. Call Meng Law in Prince Frederick for help with divorce in Calvert, St. Mary’s, Charles or Prince George’s County.