DO I NEED A PRE-NUPTIAL
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
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
IS MY DIVORCE CASE
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
WHAT IS A "NO FAULT"
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
IS CHILD SUPPORT
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
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
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.