We are a full service law firm providing a wide array of legal services to individuals and businesses. We assist clients with simple or complex legal issues as we share our knowledge in different fields to provide our clients with the best legal advice and a plan of action for their legal needs. This page is provided to help you with some of the more standard legal questions. During the next 6 months we will add monthly to this list of important questions.

Legal Questions & Answers:

DO I NEED A PRE-NUPTIAL AGREEMENT?

A Pre-Nuptial Agreement is a contract negotiated and signed by a couple prior to their marriage. It is recommended that a couple have a Pre-Nuptial Agreement in situations where one or both have children from prior marriages and/or one party has substantially more assets than the other.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements usually address what will happen in the event of a divorce (such as alimony, division of retirement benefits and other assets and liabilities), as well as what happens in the event of death (how the decedent's estate will be divided, life insurance, and payment of certain expenses for the surviving spouse).

When negotiating Pre-Nuptial Agreements, it is essential that a full and truthful disclosure of assets and liabilities be made by each party; that the Agreement be entered into voluntarily; and that each party have independent legal counsel during negotiation of the Agreement.

WHAT ARE GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE?

In Maryland, there are 8 grounds for divorce: adultery; desertion for 12 continuous months; voluntary separation for 12 continuous months; two-year separation; conviction of a felony or misdemeanor with incarceration for at least 1 year under a sentence of 3 or more years; insanity, with the spouse institutionalized for at least 3 years and the insanity is incurable; cruelty of treatment; or excessively vicious conduct.

To be "separated", spouses must live in separate residences. The separation is interrupted if spouses have sexual relations with one another, resume living together, or even spend one night together under the same roof, regardless of whether or not they sleep in separate bedrooms.

IS MY DIVORCE CASE UNCONTESTED?

Your divorce case is uncontested if you and your spouse agree to divorce and all issues related to the marriage have been resolved. A contested divorce is where the grounds for divorce and/or any issues related to the marriage are in dispute, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and property disposition.

If you have a contested divorce, you may need to seek relief from the Court, either from a Judge or a Family Division Master. This process can be very complicated, lengthy and expensive.

If you and your spouse agree on the grounds for divorce and all issues incident to the dissolution of the marriage, it may be advisable to negotiate and enter into a Voluntary Separation and Property Settlement Agreement. Once all issues are settled, the divorce situation becomes uncontested and obtaining a final divorce can be expedited.

WHAT IS A "NO FAULT" DIVORCE?

A "no fault" divorce is where neither spouse is considered responsible for the breakup of the marriage.

Technically, Maryland does not have a no fault divorce. The closest thing to a no fault divorce in Maryland is when spouses are divorced on grounds of a two-year separation.

If you and your spouse have lived separate and apart in separate residences without interruption and without sexual relations for two years, you can obtain an absolute divorce.

It is not necessary to show that the separation was voluntary. Nor is it necessary to show that either spouse deserted the other or was otherwise at "fault" for the dissolution of the marriage.

IS CHILD SUPPORT MODIFIABLE?

Child support can be modified by the Court if there is a "material change in circumstances" since the last Order for child support.

For example, if a Separation Agreement providing for child support is incorporated into a divorce decree, the parent seeking a modification of child support must prove a material change in circumstances since the date of the divorce decree (not the date of the Separation Agreement).

A material change in circumstances would include a change in either parent's income, a change in certain expenses of the children, such as work-related child care, extraordinary medical or private school expenses, or a child reaching age of majority.

When a court modifies child support, it can make the modification retroactive only to the date of the request for modification. If you believe your child support should be modified, you should not delay filing.

Whatever your legal needs are... we can help you to a complete resolution. Call us today. We're located in the neighborhood.

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Gaithersburg, MD 20879
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