Maryland Family Law FAQs
At Meng Law in Prince Frederick, our attorneys engage in a comprehensive Southern Maryland family law practice, handling matters of divorce, child custody, child support, adoptions, and family law mediation in Calvert County, St. Mary’s County, Charles County and Prince George’s County. Our full-service family lawyers are here to help with other Maryland family law matters as well, including drafting, challenging or enforcing prenuptial agreements, seeking or opposing domestic violence protective orders, and establishing or fighting paternity proceedings. Click on a topic above for more information, or see below for answers to frequently asked questions on important family law issues in Maryland. Call Meng Law at 410-535-5500 if you have other questions or require immediate assistance in a Southern Maryland divorce or family law case.
What can a prenuptial agreement do?
A prenuptial agreement can help a couple enter into marriage with a full understanding of each other’s assets and debts, as well as each partner’s vision regarding the division of property or payment of spousal support in the event of divorce. Any couple can benefit from drawing up a prenuptial agreement, although they are especially helpful in situations where there is a large income disparity between the prospective spouses, or when one of the partners has been previously divorced. A prenuptial agreement can help ensure that a less well-off spouse is protected in case of divorce while assuring that the higher-earning spouse won’t be taken advantage of. A prenup can also help fend off a bitter divorce battle over property or alimony and can protect the inheritance rights of children from a previous marriage.
A couple has the ability to fashion a customized premarital agreement that meets their specific needs. Common provisions include:
- Stating what property will or will not be subject to division in a divorce, or how it will be divided
- Whether spousal support will be paid after a marriage of a certain length, including how much alimony and for how long
- Inheritance rights of children from a prior marriage or children to be born of the prospective marriage
- Whether a spouse will assume or not assume the other spouse’s premarital debts
- The making of a will with specific provisions
- The provision of a life insurance policy, including payment amount and beneficiary
To ensure a premarital agreement is valid and enforceable, it should be voluntarily entered into by both parties, signed by both parties, and be based on a full disclosure of assets and liabilities. Each party should have the opportunity to review the agreement with their own attorney before signing.
How do I get a protective order against an abusive spouse?
If you’ve been assaulted, stalked or threatened by a family member, member of your household, a former spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend or co-parent, Maryland domestic violence law enables you to get a protective order from the courts. A protective order can prohibit the alleged abuser from contacting you in any way. The order can require the person to keep away from your home, school or work and stay a certain distance away from you at other places where you both may be. A person subject to a protective order can be immediately arrested for violating the order.
To get a temporary protective order, you must complete a Petition for Protective Order (CC-DC-DV-001) and file it with the District Court or Circuit Court during business hours, or with the Commissioner’s Office after hours. At Meng Law, we can help you complete the petition and file it in the correct location. We can also represent you at a hearing on a final protective order, whether you are the party seeking the final order or believe you are being wrongly accused of domestic violence.
If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1 or get to a safe place and call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If not in immediate danger, call Meng Law to discuss ways our family law attorneys can help you deal with a domestic crisis situation.
How does one establish paternity in Maryland?
If the parents are unmarried when the child is born, it is important to take some step to establish the child’s paternity. Without establishing the child’s legal parentage, the father cannot assert rights to custody and visitation, and the mother cannot enforce a right to child support on behalf of the kids. Paternity provides other benefits to a child as well, such as inheritance rights and the right to receive health insurance, social security and veteran’s benefits and other benefits through the father.
Paternity can be established in Maryland by voluntarily signing an affidavit at any point before the child has turned 18. The person signing the affidavit has 60 days after signing to rescind it, after which time paternity is considered established. Absent an affidavit, either the mother or the putative (alleged) father can go to court to establish paternity, which involves a court-ordered DNA test and other evidence produced by the parties. For help with an affidavit or to litigate a contested paternity case in Southern Maryland, call Meng Law in Prince Frederick for help.