Sadly, over half of all marriages in the state of Maryland end in divorce. Marriage dissolution occurs for reasons ranging from cheating to family violence to spouses simply no longer getting along.
Regardless of the reason for the divorce, ending a marriage is often a challenging process. An experienced Anne Arundel County divorce lawyer could guide you throughout the entire legal process. A dedicated member of our legal team could identify the critical issues in your case and ensure that your rights are protected.
Fault versus No-Fault Divorce in Anne Arundel County
State law recognizes two types of divorce. The more common is a no-fault divorce, where the couple prefers to end their marriage without blaming one another. To qualify for a no-fault divorce, the parties must live apart for at least 12 months before filing the divorce complaint.
In a fault divorce, one party alleges that the other’s misconduct caused the marriage’s dissolution. Under Maryland Family Code §7-103, the basis for a fault divorce, also known as grounds, includes:
- A spouse’s criminal conviction
- Cruelty of treatment
- Excessively vicious conduct
A couple may also request a ‘mutual consent’ divorce if they have a written, signed marital settlement agreement resolving all alimony, property, and child-related issues.
Regardless of what form of divorce a spouse pursues, one way to be eligible to file for divorce is for one of the parties to be a state resident for at least six months before commencing legal action. A seasoned Anne Arundel County divorce attorney could explain the legal requirements for divorce, available grounds, and which type might better serve a client’s specific case.
Common Issues in Divorces
No two marriages are the same, and neither are divorces. While each case is unique, some issues arise more frequently than others when parties choose to legally split. Some of the common points of contention between divorcing spouses include:
- Child custody and support
- Property division
- Spousal support
- Transfer of retirement accounts
- Disposition of a marital home
- Allocation of marital debt
- Tax consequences of asset liquidation
Additionally, depending on how a divorce settlement is structured, the parties could face federal and state tax consequences, particularly if they liquidate substantial assets like stock or retirement accounts.
While there is no way to anticipate every contingency that may arise in a divorce, careful planning can help eliminate uncertainties. A skilled divorce lawyer in Anne Arundel County could help identify the primary issues in a case and develop a strategy to address them equitably.
An Overview of the Divorce Process in Family Court
Generally, neither spouse enters a marriage thinking it will one day end. However, while considering divorce can be heartbreaking, understanding the legal process could help someone approach it more objectively.
To initiate a divorce, one spouse must file a complaint for divorce in the family court division of the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. The initiating spouse must deliver or ‘serve’ the opposing spouse with the complaint and a summons to respond. The receiving spouse must file an answer to the complaint or risk a judge finding them in default and deciding the outcome of the case without their input.
After a complaint and answer have been filed, the court will issue a scheduling order directing the parties to appear for various proceedings, including pretrial settlement conferences, temporary support hearings, and a final divorce hearing. If the parties resolve their case during negotiations, they may submit a written marital settlement to a judge for approval.
If the parties disagree on settlement, a judge will hear the case at trial and render a final decision. Because of the complexity of family law actions, a party seeking marriage dissolution could benefit from the advice of a capable divorce attorney in Anne Arundel County.
Seek Help from a Knowledgeable Anne Arundel County Divorce Attorney
Whether you and your spouse are at odds or are on good terms and wish to resolve your divorce amicably, the legal process can be complicated. Significant issues like your children’s custody, property rights, and your financial future are all on the line.
A committed Anne Arundel County divorce lawyer could help you every step of the way through your divorce. From filing the initial complaint to the final divorce hearing, the compassionate team of attorneys at our firm could approach your case with the attention and respect you deserve. Call today to take the first step toward protecting your rights and your family’s future.