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Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce

Even for people who are divorcing for a second or third time, the process can be fraught with questions.  No two divorces are the same.  As such, below we discuss the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about divorce.

Can I prevent my spouse from seeing our children?

Generally speaking, no.  Courts rarely take the step of completely depriving a parent of seeing their children.  During the divorce proceedings, your attorney, along with your spouse’s attorney, will negotiate a parenting time schedule that works for your family.   If your attorneys cannot negotiate a settlement, the court will make a parenting time schedule after a trial.  Most parents prefer to work out their own parenting schedule rather than leaving it to the court.
Once the parties establish a parenting time schedule, violating the schedule violates a court order.  This could result in a court finding of contempt of court.

What happens if my spouse doesn’t hire an attorney?

If your spouse decides to represent themselves in the divorce proceedings, they will be expected to follow the court rules, just as an attorney would.  Rather than negotiating with your spouse’s attorney, your attorney will negotiate with your spouse.  It should not be surprising that unrepresented people are not as familiar with the rules of court, the statutory mandates regarding child support, the laws regarding marital and non-marital property, and other laws governing divorce as another divorce attorney would be.  Consequently, when your lawyer is dealing with your unrepresented spouse, this may require more time than if they were dealing with another lawyer familiar with family law.

How much alimony can I get?

Courts do not grant alimony in every case. Rather, courts determine alimony on a case by case basis.  In Maryland, alimony is most often awarded on a temporary basis.  In most cases, the intention is to allow one spouse to get situated, perhaps by finishing a college degree or re-obtaining a certification.  There are rare occasions when permanent alimony is awarded.

Why should I consider mediation?

Mediation can be a productive way to resolve disputes.  In mediation, a neutral third-party listens to both sides and works to come up with creative solutions.  Mediation allows couples to come to agreements about child custody, parenting time, and property division together, rather than leaving it for a court to decide the issues.  If a mediation does not lead to the resolution of all the issues, the couple can return to the court system to litigate any issues not resolved.

How is collaborative law different than mediation?

With collaborative law, the parties agree up front they will work to resolve their differences without resorting to court.  Unlike mediation, when the parties agree to a collaborative law process for divorce, they cannot simply return to the court process if they don’t agree.  The parties must hire different attorneys to handle the divorce if they decide to abandon the collaborative divorce law process.  The benefits of collaborative law, however, are great.  They include the fact that one party is less likely to threaten litigation in an attempt to obtain a more favorable settlement.  Additionally, collaborative law cases often resolve more quickly.  This is due, in part, to the fact the parties are not limited by the court’s schedule.  Courts are often booked weeks or even months out.

My spouse is a spender and has created more of our debt than I have.  Shouldn’t they be solely responsible for their debt?

The division of debts can be complicated.  However, just because one person created the debt, this doesn’t necessarily mean that person will be responsible for paying the debt back.  Instead, the allocation of debt responsibility is one of many factors in divorce negotiations.

Is my prenuptial agreement valid?

The answer to this question, not surprisingly, is “It depends.”  In order for a prenuptial agreement to be valid, it must meet certain criteria.  First, it must be in writing.  Second, when written, the agreement must have included a full accounting of both parties’ financial information.  It cannot contain agreements that are illegal.  Finally, the agreement may not be valid if either party was pressured into signing it.  There are a few other reasons why a prenuptial agreement may not be valid.  For example, a couple may not agree in a prenuptial agreement not to pay child support or otherwise maintain responsibility for a child of the union.  It is always a good idea to have a qualified family law attorney review a prenuptial agreement both before signing it as well as during divorce proceedings.

Do I have to share my retirement account with my spouse?

The division of assets, like the division of debts, is often subject to negotiation.  However, non-marital assets are not divisible in divorce proceedings.  Instead, non-marital assets remain with the party who owned them prior to the marriage.  It is possible some or all of a retirement account may be non-marital, and therefore not subject to sharing.   Even if the retirement account is a marital asset, this doesn’t mean it necessarily has to be shared.  The attorneys may negotiate a settlement wherein one party keeps their retirement account, and the other party receives another marital asset.

Considering Divorce?

If you are considering divorce, you probably have questions of your own.  While a blog post can answer general divorce questions, only a qualified family law attorney can address your personal situation.  Contact the firm of Fait & DiLima to discuss your unique situation.  We can address all of your questions, and help you determine how best to proceed.  Our firm focuses exclusively on family law issues and we have over 50 years of combined family law experience.  We look forward to working with you to help you address the issues relevant to your family.  This way, you can return to the important things in life: your family, your work, and your peace of mind.  Contact us today at (301) 888-6384.

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