Family Law Attorneys in Columbia, MD
If you are considering getting married, especially if you have an interest in a business or you are a high-income earner, you should consider a having a prenuptial agreement drafted. Contrary to their reputation, properly prepared prenuptial agreements can set forth each party’s wishes in regard to spousal support and the division of property, regardless of how it is titled, in the event of divorce or death.
Existing property: Prenuptial agreements can identify which property that currently exists, or which might exist in the future, would be each spouse’s separate property and which property would be considered marital property subject to division in a divorce.
Future Earnings and Asset Appreciation: Prenuptial agreements are also useful to protect future earnings and asset appreciation at the time of divorce, saving consideration litigation of property issues.
Since prenuptial agreements must be executed well in advance of any marriage ceremony, it is important for you to seek advice from a family law attorney with experience in drafting these agreements.
Separation and Divorce
When a marriage fails, couples separate, and divorce is inevitable, it is one of the most stressful times of a person’s life. Counsel from an experienced family law attorney can make all of the difference. The attorney that you choose should be an experienced trial attorney, but should also be able to settle the case, if that is possible.
Aside from the grounds for a divorce, most divorces involve child custody, child support, spousal support (alimony), and a marital property division. Those individuals without children or whose children are over eighteen years old, may still have to resolve spousal support and marital property issues.
Child custody concerns both physical custody, where the child(ren) live, and also legal custody, who makes decisions regarding the children.
Child support calculations involve determining each parent’s gross income and applying those incomes, as well as each parent’s custody with the child(ren), to the Maryland Child Support Guidelines.
Unlike child support, alimony (spousal support) requires the court to analyze a series of statutory factors rather than utilize formulaic guidelines to determine an award.
Regardless of how property is titled, it may still be subject to division in a divorce. Experienced attorneys can assist our clients with any issue regarding their divorce.
Domestic violence is a serious problem in our society. It does not matter whether the parties are married, living together, have children in common, are straight or gay, intimate partner violence usually takes many forms from emotional and financial abuse to physical abuse. Many times protective orders are the only way that an individual can be protected from the violence of a spouse or partner. If you have experience violence in your relationship or believe that your safety is at risk, please contact our office in Columbia, MD to schedule a meeting with one of our divorce attorneys.
If you have children, the conclusion of a divorce, either by litigation or by agreement, may not be the end of the process. Obligations regard child custody and child support, as well as alimony (even for those folks without minor children) continue until children reach eighteen (18) years of age.
From the date of divorce until a child turns 18 years old, the custody arrangements and child support obligations may change and the court may be called upon to modify the existing custody and/or child support order provided that the party seeking the modification can demonstrate that there has been a “material change in circumstance” since the last Court Order.
Sometimes, a parent moving or changing jobs, thus having a significant change in income can constitute a material change. There is no list of what can constitute a material change. As such, you should consult with an experienced attorney if you are considering or facing a modification of custody or child support.
In addition, when an ex-spouse is not complying with the terms of a Court Order, such as failing to pay child support, a contempt action may be appropriate to ensure that all parties are in compliance with what the Court has ordered. Our child support and child custody attorneys have both prosecuted and defended contempt actions for our clients.
Parents are the natural guardians of their children until those children turn 18 years old. If the parents are deceased, incarcerated, or unavailable for other reasons, a guardian may be necessary to enroll the child in school, consent to medical care, receive benefits, etc. Such guardianships of a minor child expire when the child turns 18 years old.
Adults (those over 18) may need a guardianship of either their person or property or both when mental or physical illness render them unable to make or communicate reasonable decisions regarding their care and/or finances. In the same way, a guardianship may be necessary to locate suitable housing, consent to medical care, and to ensure the individual’s finances are protected. Guardianships of adults last until the disability no longer exists or the individual passes away.
Guardians are considered fiduciaries and are held to a higher standard than other individuals when making decisions for the disabled person. In order to be appointed as a guardian, the court will have to make a decision as to whether the disabled person needs a guardian and whether the person applying to be a guardian is the best person to be appointed.
As the process of becoming a guardian can be complex, our experienced attorneys in Columbia, MD are available to guide you through this process.
Same Sex Marriage
Since the legalization of same sex marriage in DC in 2009, Maryland in 2013, and throughout the United States in 2015, the laws pertaining to same sex divorce have continued to evolve as well.
The greatest changes to divorce law as a result of same sex marriage has been in the area of child custody.
Children who are born as a result of surrogates or through some other Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART) have forced a change in the law from the presumption that a legitimate child can only be born between a married man and a woman.
Changes in child custody law as a result of same sex divorces have also resulted in changes to third party custody, including grandparent custody, laws.
Given the relatively short period of time that LGBTQ+ individuals have had the right to marry, many couples considering marriage or facing divorce may have lived together for a long period of time before they had the right to marry. Marriage may have created issues regarding their property and which property is subject to division in a divorce.
Our Columbia, MD attorneys have significant experience in navigating these and other issues related to same sex couples. Contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys.