When you think of misconduct in a Maryland divorce, your mind may turn to adultery, violence, or other wrongdoing that provides a spouse with grounds to end the marriage. A spouse’s acts can no doubt be egregious, but they are not always as big of an issue in a divorce case as you think. Maryland is a no-fault state for purposes of dissolving a marriage, so you do not need such proof to get a divorce. However, there is a type of spousal misconduct that most definitely affects your divorce case: When a spouse engages in wrongful acts which cause substantial harm to your financial interests and/or your rights as a parent.
Fortunately, Maryland law provides you with tools for detecting wrongdoing, as well as legal remedies when you do have proof of spousal misconduct. Because the concepts are complex and emotion can hinder your efforts to protect yourself, it is wise to work with a Bethesda, MD divorce attorney. Some background information may also help you understand how these acts could affect your future.
Spot the Common Types of Spousal Misconduct in Divorce: The first step in taking action regarding wrongdoing is knowing what it looks like in a real-life scenario. Because you probably never expected such deception from someone to whom you were married – and with whom you possibly share children – it is important to recognize the signs of misconduct:
- Concealing Assets: Maryland’s equitable division statute requires a fair, equitable split of all assets, including real estate, financial accounts, and personal property, that were acquired during the marriage. A spouse may try to hide items in order to avoid having them considered by the court during asset division.
- Wasting the Marital Estate: Once the petition is filed and divorce proceedings are underway, one spouse might make luxury purchases, go on lavish vacations, or otherwise expend assets that rightfully belong to the marital estate.
- Interference with Child Custody: While being late for an exchange once in a while may not be a big deal, constant disruptions or forbidding visitation is against the law. Maryland prohibits interference with child custody, and it can even be a crime under certain circumstances.
- Nonpayment of Alimony or Child Support: A court will enter an order for child support to be paid by the nonresidential parent during divorce proceedings, and may even award alimony to one party. Failure to comply with the court’s order can lead to serious financial hardship.
What to do About Misconduct in a Maryland Divorce Case: There are strategies and legal remedies to address the above wrongs, starting with hiding assets. Maryland divorce laws require financial disclosures from each party, and parties can take advantage of discovery tools to uncover ownership interests.
When a spouse refuses to pay support or comply with a child custody order, you can file a motion to have the court find the other party in contempt. The judge may order payment of arrearages or modify a child custody order, such as by requiring supervised visitation. Plus, while Maryland’s Child Support Administration enforces payment by parents, you may get faster results by going through a family court, which can order:
- Wage garnishment;
- Entry of judgments; or,
- Jail time, in particularly egregious cases.
Contact Maryland Divorce Lawyer About Options for Addressing Spousal Misconduct
Spouses are often tempted to hide assets or disrupt a coparent’s relationship with minor children, so it is essential that you pursue all available options for legal relief. Our team at The McKeon Law Firm can advise you and help with the court process, so please contact our Gaithersburg or Bethesda, MD offices today. You can schedule a consultation with a divorce attorney by calling 301-417-9222 or 202-742-1800.