Montgomery County Divorce Lawyers
Maybe you have been contemplating divorce for a while or were blindsided by receiving divorce papers from your spouse. No matter your divorce story, the Montgomery County divorce lawyers at Tina Sharma Law Offices have the knowledge and experience to help you during this difficult phase of life. Divorce can be confusing, and Maryland's divorce laws are complex; however, with an attorney on your side, you can be confident that your rights are represented in every step of the divorce process, no matter what type of divorce you face.
Why Hiring a Skilled Divorce Lawyer is Crucial for Protecting Your Rights
Divorce is a legal process that dissolves a marriage and splits each spouse's life from the other. Even in the most amicable of splits, the spouses must hire their own Montgomery County divorce lawyers to represent and protect their interests. If you don't have someone on your side who is well-versed in Maryland's complex family laws, you can be robbed of some of your legal rights without even knowing it.
No matter what type of divorce you face, you will want an experienced lawyer who can take over navigating the complexities of the divorce process. Cooperation between two divorcing spouses can be fleeting or even non-existent, requiring the care and attention that only a skilled divorce lawyer can bring. Without such an attorney, you may lose your rights regarding child custody and support, as well as receiving assets and alimony.
Types of Divorce and How Divorce is Handled in Maryland
Maryland family law offers two types of divorce: absolute and limited.
An absolute divorce permanently and legally dissolves the marriage. When courts grant an absolute divorce, it is a permanent order. Each spouse receives a divorce decree detailing the court's orders regarding the division of assets, alimony/spousal support, and child custody and support.
On the other hand, a limited divorce in Maryland is the same as a legal separation. Although it can pave the way for the couple to move on to an absolute divorce, it doesn't legally terminate the marriage. If your goal is to no longer be legally married
Whichever type of divorce you pursue, you will need to file a complaint in the county circuit court where you live or your spouse lives. At least one spouse must physically reside in Maryland at the time of the filing. If the grounds for divorce occurred in this state, there is no lookback period for residency—one of you just needs to live here now. However, if the grounds for divorce happened outside of Maryland, one of the spouses must have lived in Maryland for at least six months before one of them filed the divorce complaint.
At Tina Sharma Law Offices, we offer the following types of divorce and related services:
Even before you officially file for divorce or learn that your spouse has filed, we help you plan for your divorce. Our attorneys take the time to learn about your individual situation and understand your goals and needs during this intense time. Armed with this knowledge, we can prepare the best strategy for your case.
We are willing and able to take each part of your case to trial. However, those going through a divorce should note that negotiated settlements frequently have many benefits and work to the advantage of all involved parties.
Even though uncontested divorces are much easier and quicker than contested ones, it's still essential for each spouse to have an attorney to represent and protect their legal rights. Just because your relationship is amicable and you can agree to the divorce terms doesn't mean you shouldn't seek legal representation.
Unfortunately, in many divorces, one or both spouses refuses to negotiate or compromise, making the divorce as difficult as possible for the other spouse. Our Montgomery County Divorce attorneys have the skills and experience necessary to represent spouses in high-conflict divorce cases.
Maryland law provides that assets acquired during the marriage, such as real estate, vehicles, and bank accounts, should be divided between both spouses, even if the property is titled in just one spouse's name. Our skilled attorneys work to identify all marital property and to achieve a just division, which in some divorce cases is more than a 50-50 split. You can count on us to work hard to save the family home for you and your children.
Pre- and Post-Nuptial Agreements
These legal agreements pre-determine how assets should be divided if the couple gets divorced. However, some parts or even all of these agreements can be legally invalid. For example, suppose your pre-nuptial agreement includes custody or child support orders. In that case, that portion isn't legally binding, as the judge has the right to decide what is in the children's best interests.
Alimony Agreements and Orders
Our Montgomery County divorce lawyers advocate for you if you need and deserve alimony during the divorce litigation process, temporary alimony, or indefinite alimony. We also contest these rights for our clients when appropriate. If your spouse doesn't deserve alimony under Maryland family laws, you shouldn't have to pay it.
Members of the LGBTQ community have the legal right to marry, and they also need legal services when those marriages dissolve. Our Montgomery County divorce lawyers know how to handle LGBTQ divorces with sensitivity and compassion.
Legal Grounds for Divorce in Maryland
In Maryland, divorces can either be "no-fault" or "fault. To obtain a fault-based divorce, you must prove that your spouse did certain things or acted in specific ways. For example, the following behaviors may support a fault divorce:
- imprisonment for a crime
- cruelty of treatment
- excessively vicious conduct
Even if you are unable to prove a fault-based ground, you may still qualify to file for divorce arising from the "no-fault" ground of 12-month separation or mutual consent. The person filing for a "no-fault" divorce doesn't have to prove that their spouse committed any misconduct, only that they were separated for a year or they both agree to a no-fault divorce.
The divorce court can consider fault grounds when determining if you will have to pay or receive alimony or even how they divide up marital property. Although fault ground doesn't typically impact the court's decision for custody, it can be one of many factors they take into account if the fault ground harms the children.
Once you meet the residency requirements and determine grounds for divorce, you can file divorce papers. You must then have copies sent to your spouse.
Suppose your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce paperwork. In that case, they will have the opportunity to file documents explaining their side of the story and why they disagree with you. This is known as "contesting the divorce." If your divorce continues to be contested and you can't reach agreements on important issues, such as alimony, asset division, and child custody and support, you will need to go to court to have the judge determine these matters.
However, if your spouse agrees with your divorce filing, they will need to sign the papers and send them back to you or the court. This is known as an "uncontested divorce." If a certain number of days pass and your spouse doesn't sign the papers or file any papers of their own, you may have the right to proceed with an uncontested divorce anyway. Refusing to sign paperwork won't ultimately stop someone from getting divorced.
By hiring a divorce attorney, you can ensure that your divorce process goes smoothly, no matter why you are getting divorced or what type of divorce you are seeking. In addition, an attorney can ensure that you meet the legal requirements for divorce in Maryland and assist you with paperwork and court filings.
Selecting a Montgomery County Divorce Lawyer
Not only do you need a Montgomery County divorce lawyer to represent you during the divorce process, but you also need one local to you. A local lawyer is well-versed in Maryland family laws and familiar with the courts and judges, which gives you an advantage in dealing with them.
When hiring a divorce attorney, you should also consider the following:
- the type of divorce you are seeking, and their experience helping others in the same type
- whether you will be using a mediator and how the attorney will handle that situation
- how they manage the emotional side of divorce cases
- your budget for hiring an attorney
- how they will approach your case
What Not to Do During a Divorce (and Some Things You Should Do)
What you do and don't do during the divorce process can have a significant impact on your divorce and your life for some years to come. Here are some things you should avoid:
- Don't treat divorce as a DIY project. – You don't want to take matters into your own hands. Instead, hire a knowledgeable Montgomery County divorce lawyer and let them do their job. When it comes to divorce, what you don't know can certainly hurt you. It's best to have an experienced professional on your side.
- Don't ignore court rulings. – If a family court judge has made a ruling in your case, treat them like personalized laws for you and your family. If you don't adhere to them, you can find yourself in legal trouble or not getting what you want out of your divorce.
- Don't involve your kids. – As much as possible, leave your kids out of the divorce. You don't need to expose them to any bad blood between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse or try to get them to take sides. You should also avoid confiding in them—instead, get support from friends, family, or even a professional mental health counselor.
There are also some steps you should take during a divorce, such as:
- continue to live your life – Don't let your divorce completely consume you.
- limit your spending – you don't want to be accused of draining marital bank accounts, and you also want to be prepared for any new financial constraints you might face
- Keep your appointments and show up on time – It might be tempting to show up late for a court date or a meeting with your spouse's attorney just to spite them, as this is no time for immature games
Unfortunately, some marriages will end in divorce. While you may be unable to stop yours from meeting this fate, you can control many of the outcomes by hiring the reputable Montgomery County divorce lawyers at Tina Sharma Law Offices. Your lawyer will protect your rights, help you with paperwork and court filings, and work towards meeting your goals. Contact us today at 202-839-9625 or online to schedule your divorce case evaluation.
Three Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much does a divorce lawyer cost in Maryland?
The median overall cost of separation in Maryland with no contentious issues is approximately $4,000-$5,000, depending on the hourly maximum and minimum charges for the attorney you hire. The average cost for divorce matters with one settled disagreement is between $6,000-$7,000, while matters with two or more conflicts is approximately $10,000-$12,500. Typical costs for a court trial for one issue are between $13,500 and $17,000. In comparison, those with multiple issues can run between $18,500 and $23,000 in Maryland.
What is the average cost of a divorce in Maryland?
The average U.S. divorce costs $15,000 per person. However, Maryland's average is below that at $11,000 to $13,500 per person. This includes:
- attorneys' hourly fees
- court filing fees
- other expert fees, such as mediator fees
Can my wife take my retirement in a divorce?
When it comes to retirement accounts and divorce, the general rule is to divide pension benefits earned during the marriage in half. Of course, this means your spouse can be entitled to half your pension. However, they are only potentially entitled to receive half of what you earned while you were married, and that's it.