Columbia Divorce Lawyer
In many states, marriage dissolution is a relatively streamlined process. But in Maryland, there is an underlying assumption that it’s still possible to save the marriage after a spouse files for divorce. So, this family law process is rather cumbersome. Some 2015 amendments streamlined the process a little, but not much. Furthermore, in all states, many divorces involve very complex financial and emotional issues.
- High-Asset Divorce
- Military Divorce
- Military Property Division
- Property Division
- Retirement Account Division
- Spousal Support Modification
- Spousal Support/Alimony
At the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, our Columbia divorce lawyers make divorce as simple as possible. After a comprehensive consultation, we thoroughly review all your legal options. Afterwards, working together, we develop a plan of action. Then, we put that plan into immediate action, beginning with the temporary hearing. All the way through the process, we fight for your legal and financial rights.
Divorce in Maryland: An Overview
A few states, including Maryland, recognize both limited and absolute divorces. Procedurally, they are rather similar. But in other ways, they are significantly different.
Limited divorce is what some people used to call an “Irish Divorce.” The parties separate their property and set up custody/visitation arrangements for their children. But, the spouses remain legally married. Some states call this outcome a legal separation.
A limited divorce may be a good option for some spouses who want to move on but have a moral or religious problem with divorce. Limited divorce also enables non-employee spouses to stay on group health plans and does not have inheritance and succession ramifications. But limited divorce provides closure to no one. Furthermore, if one spouse files for limited divorce, the other spouse usually counter-files for absolute divorce.
Absolute divorce permanently dissolves the marriage. Parties may obtain no-fault divorces after a six or twelve-month waiting period. To expedite the process, a spouse may claim martial fault, such as:
- Cruel treatment, or
The broadly-defined cruel treatment fault is the most common one. That cruelty could be physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, or otherwise. Plus, the cruelty does not have to be severe. Almost any incident will suffice.
The Divorce Process in Columbia
Every case is different. Moreover, most divorce cases settle out of court, and that settlement may occur at any time. But for the most part, most marriage dissolution cases follow the same outline.
About two weeks after the plaintiff files a petition, the court normally holds a hearing to determine temporary child custody and financial matters. These decisions are not permanent. However, they usually serve as the blueprint for the final absolute divorce order. That’s especially true with regard to child custody, as many Howard County family law judges prize consistency above everything else.
Next, the parties participate in discovery. They exchange information about their claims and defenses. Discovery often includes witness depositions and property inspections as well. In some cases, this process may be quite limited. In other situations, such as high-asset divorces, discovery could be extensive and last for months.
Once discovery is mostly complete, most Maryland judges order contested divorces to mediation. A neutral third party tries to facilitate a settlement between the two parties on issues like:
- Child custody,
- Property division, and
- Domestic Support Obligations.
DSOs usually include things like child support and spousal support. They may also include things like insurance reimbursement and tuition payments.
Mediation works about 75 percent of the time. If successful, mediation reduces attorneys’ fees, makes the process more civil, and gives the litigants more control over the outcome.
If there is a trial, it is usually before a judge without a jury. In some cases, litigants could wait several months for a trial date. If the trial court makes a serious error or there is some similar issue, a successful appeal may be possible.
Contact an Experienced Columbia Divorce Lawyer
A divorce has both legal and emotional components. For a free consultation with an experienced Columbia divorce lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Howard County and nearby jurisdictions.