It is hard to imagine a more painful and challenging process than separation and divorce, especially when there are children with all types of needs, conflict within the home, as well as assets to support two households post-divorce. There is tremendous value in coming to a Maryland Marital Settlement Agreement that resolves all, or at least a part, of the issues to dissolve the marriage. Placing the power in the hands of the Wife/Mother and Husband/Father eliminates the risk that a judge unfamiliar with your case, will make a decision that is dissatisfying to all involved. In order to reach a comprehensive agreement with your spouse, it is necessary to have skillful negotiators on your side to advocate for your interests. Skillful negotiation involves the ability to see the global picture, extensive knowledge of the relevant law, and the recognition of the needs and objectives of both parties. In family law, effective negotiation is the application of leverage in a way that maintains a level of balance and equity.
Unfortunately, agreements between parties when it comes to family law matters – children and finances specifically – are not always possible for a variety of reasons. This can include the reasonableness of each party and their representation, the willingness of each party to exchange relevant information, the level of conflict between the parties, differences between the parties regarding parenting and time-sharing, and each parties’ desire to protect their respective futures. From the time that a client first walks into our office, we prepare for litigation while guiding our client’s expectations. The skillful ability to put on a presentation for the court that involves a myriad of sensitive issues is the hallmark of our practice. This means ensuring that the client is knowledgeable about the litigation process, strategizing internally and externally, attention to detail at the highest level, and an approach that demands results.
The days when divorce was characterized negatively are in the past. The truth is that people change over time and there is now a realization that happiness trumps all. With respect to children, the mentality that parents must stay together for the betterment of the children in a home riddled with conflict, is also in the past. Over time, experts and non-experts alike have agreed that two loving households is much better for children than one household entrenched in conflict and anger.
Whether a swift and amicable divorce resolved by way of agreement and uncontested divorce, or the most complex of cases involving business valuations, military benefits/pensions, forensic child psychology involvement/intervention, or the need to analyze high-income/spousal need for purposes of support, we are able to guide you through a process in order to achieve happiness and success in your post-divorce life. Representing husbands/fathers and wives/mothers equally has also given us the ability to see things from the other perspective to gain progress for our individual clients.
Nesting is a type of agreement sometimes used to manage joint custody of the children during separation and divorce. This type of agreement allows the children to remain in the home, while the parents each visit for a set time each week.
This method of custody management keeps the children on a set schedule, and around their friends. It also prevents the parents from having to invest in a bed, clothing, toys, and other items for each home.
While a nesting agreement can help children transition during divorce, it is paramount to put this type of agreement in writing, and include details such as your separation date, the custody schedule, and how long this agreement lasts. Hecht & Associates can help with this type of agreement.
Since the adoption of same-sex marriage laws in Maryland in 2013, the state has managed same-sex divorces in the same way as a traditional divorce filing.
There are, however, some complications that same-sex couples may face. For example, same-sex couples may face tax penalties when dividing assets such as pensions, 401k(s), or the marital home.
Hecht & Associates has experience navigating these stressful issues, and achieve positive results for our clients.
When partners with a large net worth file for divorce, they become involved in a high-asset divorce. Separating assets with a high net worth is often more difficult, and often leads to additional conflict or disagreement than in your typical divorce.
This is especially true when one partner earned the majority of the income while the other stayed home to care for children or keep the house. These cases often require expert testimony from forensic accountants, appraisers, and other professionals.
Before the court can analyze assets and determine how to equitably distribute them, it is necessary to have an expert appraise them. First, the judge decides which assets qualify as marital property and which qualify as separate property. Then, appraisers and other valuation experts put a price on assets such as:
The family home
Real estate investments
Stock market investments
Cars or other high-value vehicles
Other collectibles or investments
Maryland law follows equitable distribution laws when it comes to dividing property. While equitable does not always mean equal, many divorcing partners usually end up with roughly half of the marital assets, including real property, pensions earned during the marriage, and other investments.
Factors the court considers when determining who receives which assets and how much include:
Each partner’s role in the divorce
Each person’s monetary and nonmonetary contributions to the family and home
Each party’s health, age, and ability to earn a living
Other resources available to each partner
In an uncontested divorce, the partners agree on the separation and can come to a fair settlement on their own or through mediation. When one of the parties contests a divorce, however, this means they cannot reach an agreement. Usually, the disagreement centers on:
The divorce itself
How they should split the family assets
Whether or not alimony is necessary
While military divorces and typical divorces are more alike than they are different, there are some important differences between the two under Maryland law:
First, the law allows for the postponement of a divorce proceeding while an active military member is deployed, and for as long as two months after he or she returns home. If the divorce is uncontested, however, the law may allow the deployed partner to sign an affidavit instead of requiring in-person service of legal documents.
Second, the division of assets can sometimes be different in a military divorce. This is because federal law disallows division or distribution of military retirement unless the marriage lasted a decade or longer.
Your divorce attorney files a Maryland divorce complaint with your county’s Circuit Court, depending on the county where you live. From there, the court generates documents called the complaint and the summons. Once a process server or sheriff serves your spouse with the papers, he or she has:
30 days to respond if your spouse lives in Maryland
60 days to respond if your spouse lives out-of-state
90 days if your spouse lives in another county
No-fault divorce is both possible and very common in Maryland. The laws outlining this process changed in 2011, making it easier to file on no-fault grounds. The only requirement to file for a no-fault divorce is that the couple must live apart in separate residences for a year or more prior to filing.
Fault grounds for a Maryland divorce include:
Conviction of certain, mostly violent, crimes
“Excessively vicious conduct”
The court considers a large number of factors when considering ordering alimony, especially in a high-asset divorce. These factors include:
The partner’s ability to support themselves
Their need for further education or job training
The financial situation of each partner
The current standard of living, and each partner’s ability to continue the current lifestyle
How long the couple was married
Each partner’s monetary and nonmonetary contributions to the family
The circumstances surrounding the divorce filing
Each partner’s monetary and nonmonetary contributions to the family
The age of each partner
The health and abilities of each partner
Other assets granted to each party, including pensions, investments, etc.
Many people facing a high net worth divorce fear the court will bar them from receiving alimony if they contributed little monetarily to the family, and have the ability to earn their own income. Maryland courts, however, take nonmonetary contributions into account.
At the same time, when there is a gross disparity in income between divorcing partners, the court may decide to award indefinite alimony. This is because of an “unconscionable economic disparity” between the previous standard of living and the lifestyle the low-earning partner could afford post-divorce.
Call Hecht & Associates for help with your Maryland divorce: 301-587-2099.