Columbia Family Lawyer
Three statistics offer insight into how much the legal environment has changed since the 1980s. First, most children do not live in “traditional” households. Perhaps one or both parents has been married before, they live with step-siblings, or a single parent is the head of household. Second, the number of single father/children households has increased dramatically. This change indicates that more Howard County judges have completely done away with the “tender years” doctrine which always gave mothers superior child custody rights. Finally, the number of divorces for people over 50 has tripled since 1990. These marriage dissolutions involve highly-complex property division issues.
At the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, our Columbia family lawyers have witnessed these changes first hand. We understand how the current legal, economic, and emotional environment affects your family. We do more than react to changing trends. We proactively work with them to help ensure the best possible outcome under the circumstances.
Marriage Dissolution in Columbia
The marriage rate has fallen in recent years, but the reconstituted family is still a main component in society. So, divorce is the most common family law procedure. Legal separation is an option in some cases. These couples remain legally married but live apart. But in most cases, divorce fully resolves all issues, including:
- Status Change: Some divorces involve adultery, cruel treatment, abandonment, or other fault. But most Howard County divorces involve insupportability. No-fault divorce reduces the drama in these proceedings and shifts the focus to other issues.
- DSOs: Domestic Support Obligations include things like child support and spousal support. Generally, child support determinations are objective proceedings which set amounts based on income, number of children, and some other factors. Spousal support actions, on the other hand, are much more subjective.
- Property Division: Maryland is an equitable distribution state. “Equitable” is not necessarily the same thing as “equal.” But for practical purposes, most judges require substantial evidence before they split marital property and debts on anything other than a 50-50 basis.
- Parenting Time Distribution: The every-other-weekend/every-other-holiday model still works in some cases. But such an arrangement may not give children consistent and meaningful time with each parent. So, a somewhat more even division may be more appropriate.
Only subsequent remarriage can reverse the status determination. But the other three may be modified based on changed circumstances.
Division of Parental Responsibilities in Howard County
As mentioned, most children do not live with two parents who are both on their first marriage and their pure biological children. Some situations include:
- Adoption: Maryland law is very specific in terms of things like waivers of parental rights and the amount of financial support an adopting family may give a birth mother. Strict adherence to these rules is the best way to prevent a future, emotionally-wrenching legal showdown.
- Unmarried Parents: A piece of paper does not change the fact that these families face the same struggles that married couples face. So, a court often needs to intervene, especially with regard to parenting time disputes.
- Grandparents Rights: After a 2000 Supreme Court decision, most states, including Maryland, sharply limited grandparents rights to legally spend time with their grandchildren. However, some solutions are still available for these families.
Except for status issues, most of these decisions may be legally modified later based on a substantial change in relevant circumstances.
Rely On an Experienced Lawyer
Modern family law covers a number of diverse issues and circumstances. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Columbia, contact the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Howard County and nearby jurisdictions.