Divorce Lawyer Rockville MD
How much does a divorce lawyer cost?
The Law Office of Daniel J. Wright
If you are going through a Maryland divorce and are wondering how much does a divorce lawyer in Rockville, MD cost, rest assured that here at The Law Office of Daniel J. Wright, we can provide the answers you are looking for. We can explain in detail what divorce legal terms mean and how they may affect your case. But in the meantime, here is a general overview:
In an ideal world, the process of divorcing someone would be smooth, amicable, and inexpensive. The truth, however, is usually far from those three things. There is often a lot of emotion and hurt feelings wrapped up in resentment and bitterness at the relationship that failed. Those feelings are so easily turned on each other and the blame game begins. It is imperative that you have a trusted and experienced attorney, who specializes in divorce, represent you. The following information is intended to help prepare you for the divorce process and provide information regarding the role of your attorney from the beginning stages.
Petition for Divorce
This is the document that a spouse files with the court when they want to end their marriage. In some states it is referred to as a Dissolution of Marriage petition. The petition will detail the grounds for divorcing, as well as the factual support for those grounds. A petition will need to be filed in the same jurisdiction that the divorce proceedings will take place, typically in the town or county where one of the two parties is currently living. There is no benefit to filing the petition versus receiving it, so it does not really matter who is the one to file. The petition should include:
- Grounds for Divorce. States have different grounds that are recognized. The most common grounds for divorce is referred to as “no-fault”, which is accepted in all states. If you choose no-fault, neither party has to prove that the other person is at fault for the divorce, it is considered a mutual decision.
- Parties. The names of the two divorcing parties.
- Children. The names and ages of the children if there are any.
- Custody Requests. How much information you need to include in the petition may vary depending on the state that you are filing in. However, most states require that you at least include your custody request, i.e., primary, secondary, full custody, or shared custody.
- Alimony and Child Support. You do not have to identify a specific amount at this stage, but most states require a statement that you will be seeking alimony and/or child support.
- Shared or Separate Property. When necessary, a judge will determine the separation of property. The intervention of a judge is necessary when the two parties cannot agree on a fair separation of property. In the event that the two parties do agree, the specifics of how the property will be separated should be included in the petition.
The petition does not need to be specific at this stage and your attorney can assist you with how much to include according to the laws of your state. The party who receives the petition will have an opportunity to agree or disagree with the information therein. In the event that it is not amicable and the parties do not agree on any of the following grounds for divorce, child custody, alimony and/or child support, or the division of property, the court will arrange for negotiation conferences.
In the event that the custody of the children is in dispute, the court may arrange for mediation and possibly bring a professional, such as a social worker, in to evaluate all parties involved. When there is disagreement regarding the terms of a divorce, it is important to protect your wishes by having an experienced attorney from the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright looking out for you.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, the majority of divorces take time to go through the process and have a final order issued. However, during this process, there are often decisions that need to be addressed, even if only temporarily. With a temporary order – also referred to as an interim order – the court can establish a temporary custody order, temporary child and/or spousal support, and which spouse will reside in the family home. The court can also issue a temporary restraining order prohibiting either spouse from accessing bank accounts or disposing of property when it is suspected there could be an attempt to hide assets from the other spouse. A temporary order is void once the final divorce decree is issued.
Each state has its own laws regarding how the marital estate is divided and a divorce lawyer from our law firm can help. Some states have community property laws, which mean that assets and property acquired by the couple during their marriage belongs to both of them. Asset and property owned by either spouse prior to marriage is separate property, however, if any of that property is commingled with the community property then it too becomes community property. For example, if either spouse has bank accounts before they are married and then takes those funds and places those in a joint account, those funds now become part of the marital estate. Exceptions include separate property given to a spouse as an inheritance or a gift. Your lawyer can provide more details.
Many states that are not community property states divide the marital estate using equitable distribution rules. Any assets, property, or debts the couple has are divided fairly, but not equally. The court will take into account several factors when determining what a fair distribution is, including how long the couple was married, what the earning capacity of each spouse is, and who the children will primarily reside with.
Every parent has a legal obligation to support their child, no matter what state they live in. Every state has child support laws that determine which parent will be obligated to pay support to the other parent and how much that support should be. Talk to your divorce lawyer to get an estimate of the anticipated payment amount.
Spousal support is often referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance. It is not automatically ordered in a divorce like child support is. The court makes its decision on whether or not one spouse should pay the other spouse based on certain factors, such as the length of the marriage, the lifestyle the couple had, and what the earning capacity is of the spouse requesting support. A lawyer can review your case to determine if there are any applicable factors that could affect the terms of the spousal support.
Other Important Financial Concerns in a Divorce
There the above issues are certainly some of the most important issues that a couple needs to agree upon in a divorce, there are also several other issues that are also important, but they are also often overlooked if a person does not have a skilled Rockville MD divorce lawyer representing them. If these issues are not addressed sufficiently during the divorce, you can find yourself in a financial nightmare after the divorce has been finalized.
Don’t Forget About Marital Debt
One of these issues is allocation of martial debt. While just about everyone is very aware of the fact that a couple’s assets and property need to be fairly divided in a divorce, they sometimes forget about the debt the couple may have accumulated during their marriage. That debt also has to be distributed. In most situations, both spouses are responsible for any debt that the couple owes. This is usually the case even if only one spouse made the purchase.
If a spouse agrees to pay the debt during divorce negotiations, but fails to follow through with that agreement, the creditor can go after the other spouse, even though the divorce agreement says otherwise. This is one reason why a divorce lawyer in Rockville MD may suggest that marital assets are sold off in order to pay any marital debt off during divorce negotiations.
Don’t Forget About Potential Tax Consequences of Divorce
Another area that many people going through a divorce tend to forget about is what the possible tax liabilities may be for any division of assets and/or property that takes place in the divorce. While transferring of assets should have no affect on a person’s tax liability, there could be consequences if those assets are then sold.
The other common tax issue that comes up in divorce is who will take the child dependency exemption each year. If the couple has an even number of children, they can split the exemption. But if they only have one child or an odd number of children, they will need to come up with an agreement, such as taking the exemption on alternating years.
Don’t Forget About Retirement Accounts
Dividing retirement accounts can be complex in a divorce and require the experience of a Rockville MD divorce lawyer. This is especially true if part of the funds in a retirement account were accumulated before the marriage and some of the funds were accumulated during the marriage. Only the portion of funds that were accumulated during the marriage is considered part of the marital estate.
Contact a Divorce Lawyer ASAP
When your marriage is coming to an end, working through the process of a divorce or legal separation can be challenging without the guidance of an experienced divorce lawyer in Rockville, MD. Chances are, you know people who have gone through a divorce both with and without relying on an attorney. But perhaps you wonder what benefits could come from having a lawyer handle the details of your own divorce. While it depends on the situation, having a skilled and capable attorney could mean mitigating conflict and coming to a compromise that works for you.
Have you recently asked yourself how much does a divorce lawyer cost? If you are looking for a divorce lawyer couples know they can trust, consider the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright. We have more than 35 years of comprehensive experience and can give you the peace of mind you need to make better decisions throughout this difficult process.
Requirements for Divorce in Maryland
Before you start down the road of getting a divorce in Maryland, there are a few details that you should know. First, Maryland has residency requirements for separating spouses. One of the two spouses—if not both—must have been a Maryland resident for at least 12 months prior to filing. In addition, unless there were “fault grounds” for divorce, both of you must have been living separately for 12 months in order to legally file.
Speaking with a divorce lawyer can help you determine whether any of these apply to your situation. “Fault grounds” refer to anything you or your spouse might have done to cause the breakup of the marriage. These may include:
- Infidelity/committing adultery
- Mental instability that leads to being committed to a mental institution
- Cruelty and vicious conduct
Types of Divorce in Maryland
Maryland allows for two different kinds of divorce. You could either seek an absolute divorce or a limited divorce. Both deal with the same areas of child custody, child support, alimony, and division of assets. However, the following differences are important to note:
- Limited divorce is similar to a legal separation, in that the divorce is not permanent. Additionally, you and your spouse cannot be remarried and must retain joint ownership of all assets.
- Absolute divorce is the same as what other states call a divorce; it is permanent. It allows that you and your spouse could be remarried, and requires division of all assets.
Determining which of these arrangements is the right fit for you can be difficult. It all depends on the unique details of your relationship. Having a divorce lawyer navigating divorce and legal separations can help you more swiftly make a decision.
About Fault and No-Fault Divorces
Anyone seeking a divorce can pursue either a fault or no-fault decree to end a marriage. Deciding between these choices can depend upon the state you live in and various circumstances require careful consideration.
At-fault divorces require plaintiffs to prove that their spouses are guilty of one or more of the following specific acts of wrongdoing in the context of the marriage.
- Adultery: This reason requires the plaintiff to prove that the other spouse is inclined to commit adultery through concrete actions or has an irrefutable opportunity to do so.
- Cruelty and endangerment: Medical records, photos of injuries, and police reports can prove that a spouse deserves a divorce for personal safety reasons.
- Desertion: Plaintiffs whose spouses walk away from their marriages for punitive or emotionally abusive reasons may receive a divorce after one year of living apart from them.
- Indignities: Verbal and emotional abuse of one spouse by another and flagrant disregard for mutual finances can create an intolerable environment that may be sufficient to grant a fault-based divorce to a plaintiff.
- Imprisonment: Plaintiffs whose spouses receive crime convictions and must serve prison sentences lasting at least two years qualify for a fault-based divorce.
- Bigamy: Spouses who can supply supportive evidence that their spouses are married to someone else qualify for a divorce based on the other spouse’s wrongdoing.
A no-fault divorce is attainable in either of two ways. One way involves the consent of both spouses who agree that they want to dissolve their marriage. They must agree to a mandatory 90-day period following the divorce complaint’s service, during which they agree to settle the terms of a marriage’s dissolution. The court may decide on property distribution, child custody and support, and spousal support if the spouses cannot do so.
Spouses who opt to divorce by mutual consent can significantly reduce their expenses because they do not need attorneys to represent them. They also receive divorce decrees faster than they would when going to court. Spouses who can agree to settle outside of court can also avoid prolonging the process, which can be emotionally challenging for themselves or their children.
The court may also grant a no-fault divorce when both spouses remain separated for at least one year, but one spouse does not agree to a divorce. The spouse who wants the divorce then has an option to pursue an at-fault divorce.
Call Daniel J. Wright Now
When you need an attorney to help you navigate the emotionally challenging process of divorce, consider contacting a divorce lawyer Rockville, MD relies on from the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright. We can help you determine the next steps you need to take in order to reach an outcome that is right for your family. To get answers about how much a divorce lawyer costs and more, call the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright today.