Maryland divorce proceedings can be overwhelming, as you are faced with new living arrangements, financial implications, addressing the needs of children, and many other factors. Unfortunately, there is no user’s manual or list of To-Do’s to get you through the process, and the laws definitely do not envision a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Like many others, you may enter the process with a combination of uncertainty, anger, guilt, frustration, and many other emotions. At the same time, you may struggle to understand the relevant divorce concepts and how they impact your case.
Getting through divorce is somewhat easier when you are informed about the basics and have an idea of how the proceedings work. You can rely on your Maryland divorce attorney to help you navigate the legal requirements, but some information on what to expect may also be useful.
Equitable does not always mean equal in property division. One of the first issues to address in divorce will be how to divide up marital property, which is a two-part analysis:
- Parties must determine which assets were acquired during the marriage, since only marital property is subject to division. Generally, property owned by each person before getting married belongs to him or her.
- All marital assets are divided between the parties.
However, property division does not always mean an exact 50-50 split. Maryland’s equitable distribution statute simply requires assets to be divided in a way that is fair and just, which could mean one party obtaining slightly more.
There is no automatic right to alimony. Spousal support is another two-part test, starting with whether it is necessary and appropriate. When both parties are able to sustain the same relative lifestyle through their own means, alimony may not be proper. If one person does need support, Maryland statute on alimony factors applies to determine the type, amount, and duration.
You should not expect a “win” when it comes to children. Do not approach child custody, visitation, and support as a scenario where parents are on opposing sides of a battle. You may be divorcing, but you are both still parents who are responsible for important decision-making, health care, and all other issues related to well-being. In addition, all arrangements involving custody and visitation must comply with the best interests of the child standard. You will be required to put your child’s needs above your own.
There are multiple ways to resolve divorce issues. Not every divorce case involves bitter, protracted litigation. Parties are encouraged to agree on asset division and alimony, and a court will usually not disturb the arrangement unless it is egregiously unfair. Any agreements involving custody and visitation must take the child’s best interests into account, but a judge will likely approve any arrangement that complies with the law.
Even if you cannot agree, you may be able to resolve disputes by going through the mediation process. Trained mediators can often get divorcing couples closer together on agreement by facilitating productive, solutions-based discussions. If you still cannot reach a compromise after mediation, you can still go to court to have a judge decide outstanding issues.
Discuss Expectations with a Skilled Maryland Divorce Lawyer
Hopefully, this information on what to expect in divorce will ease your mind about going through the process. When you retain experienced legal counsel for assistance, you will also have peace of mind knowing that your interests are protected. Our team at The McKeon Law Firm will be at your side throughout the proceedings, so please contact our firm to set up a consultation with a skilled attorney. You can reach our offices in Gaithersburg or Bethesda, MD by calling 301-417-9222 or 202-742-1800.