Skip to content Skip to footer

Rockville Divorce Lawyers

Experienced Attorneys Ready to Fight for You

Divorce Lawyers in Rockville MD

Getting through a divorce can be a difficult and complex process. In addition to the emotional hurdles, you may find yourself confronted with various legal complexities when ending your marriage. Divorce entails the separation of two lives that were once intertwined, often giving rise to issues related to property ownership and financial support. Furthermore, many divorces involve questions regarding child custody, support, and visitation arrangements. The outcomes of these matters can significantly impact your future. During these challenging times, turn to Rockville divorce lawyers for stability and guidance. At KGO Law Firm, a seasoned family lawyer can provide clarity on the state’s relevant laws, help you set achievable objectives, and vigorously advocate for their realization.

rockville divorce lawyers

When is it Possible to Initiate a Divorce?

Similar to other legal proceedings, you must establish valid grounds for divorce in order to file for one. There are also specific legal prerequisites to consider. If the grounds for divorce transpired within the State of Maryland, residency in Maryland is not mandatory for the parties involved. However, if the reasons for divorce did not occur within Maryland, one of the parties must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing the complaint, as outlined in MD. Code Family Law, §7-101.

Reasons for At-Fault Divorce

Additionally, the complaint must specify the grounds on which the moving party is seeking the divorce. State law distinguishes divorces between at-fault and no-fault categories.
According to Md. Code, Family Law, §7-103, the grounds for an at-fault divorce may include:

  • Adultery
  • Cruelty
  • Excessively vicious conduct
  • Desertion
  • Insanity
  • A spouse receiving a long prison sentence due to a criminal conviction

However, it’s important to note that many divorces fall under the category of no-fault divorces.

Requirements for a Mutual Consent Divorce

In the case of a one-year separation, both individuals must reside separately for a minimum of 12 months before initiating the divorce proceedings. For a mutual consent divorce, the parties involved must possess a signed marital separation agreement or another document that comprehensively addresses all aspects of their marriage, such as marital property, children, and support. Seeking guidance from a qualified attorney can assist prospective litigants in determining their eligibility to request a divorce from a Rockville court.

Key Considerations in Marriage Dissolution

Divorces are often associated with lengthy and emotionally charged legal proceedings. Indeed, many cases can quickly escalate into complex conflicts. A court is tasked with making final determinations on various aspects of the individuals’ lives, including the division of property, assets, and debt. Additionally, the court may issue rulings on matters related to alimony and child support.

However, one of the most critical aspects in many divorce cases is child custody. The court will render judgments regarding physical custody, legal custody (the right to make crucial decisions concerning the child’s future), and the calculation of child support payments. According to MD. Code, Family Law, §5-203, the court has the authority to grant custody to either parent or establish a joint custody arrangement that grants rights to both parents. Experienced Rockville lawyers can provide further insight into the child custody determination process during a divorce.

The Divorce Process in Rockville

The divorce process commences with submitting a divorce complaint at the local courthouse. The plaintiff is also responsible for serving the complaint and other relevant documents to the other spouse.

Subsequently, the court will set a date for an initial hearing, during which the family law judge or magistrate will identify major points of contention in the case. Additional pre-trial hearings will be scheduled to attempt to resolve these issues, and parties may be required to participate in mediation sessions. If these mediation efforts prove unsuccessful, the court will proceed to conduct a comprehensive trial to make rulings on any remaining matters.

A local divorce attorney can provide valuable assistance to individuals going through a divorce, ensuring they understand the legal process and protecting their rights throughout the proceedings.

Defining Marital and Nonmarital Property

According to Maryland Family Code §8-201, marital property encompasses assets acquired by a couple during their marriage. It’s a common misconception that assets solely titled in one party’s name, such as a retirement account, are exempt from division in a divorce. However, in the majority of situations, marital property encompasses all assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of individual ownership.

Marital property explicitly excludes assets acquired by either spouse before the marriage or gift or received as an inheritance from a third party. Spouses can also prevent certain property from being categorized as marital through prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.

In certain situations, an asset may have marital and nonmarital property characteristics. For example, if one spouse owned a business before marriage, but the other spouse contributed to its growth during the marriage, the business may become partially marital property. A knowledgeable divorce attorney in Rockville can assist in discerning which property is marital and which remains the sole asset of one spouse in the event of a divorce.

Dividing Property in a Rockville Divorce

In Rockville divorces, the division of assets is governed by the state’s equitable distribution laws, which mandate a fair allocation of marital property.

“Fair” doesn’t necessarily mean equal, as the court considers a range of factors, such as:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The health, age, and financial circumstances of each spouse
  • The monetary and non-monetary contributions provided by each spouse to the family
  • The timing and manner in which the assets were acquired
  • Whether alimony is awarded to either spouse
  • Any conduct by either spouse that contributed to the marriage’s dissolution
  • Other relevant factors deemed by the court

The court determines the weight assigned to each factor when making property division decisions. While fairly dividing assets can pose challenges, it’s an achievable goal. A knowledgeable local divorce attorney can elucidate the state’s property division regulations and provide guidance through the legal proceedings.

Are Debts Also Divided Between the Spouses?

According to state law, a judge lacks the authority to split debts between spouses and mandate specific payment amounts for each. In cases of joint debt, both spouses remain liable for repayment even after a final divorce. Although the parties can come to an agreement on how to distribute their debts, these agreements do not shield them from potential debt collection efforts by creditors if the debts are left unpaid.

In the process of dividing property, a judge may consider both individual and joint debts of each party. For example, if one spouse accumulated substantial debt in their name to fund repairs to the marital home, the court may award that spouse a greater share of the proceeds from the sale of the home to offset the debt.

If debt allocation becomes a concern in a divorce case, it is advisable for the involved spouse to seek counsel from a skilled attorney in Rockville.

What if a Spouse Intentionally Depletes Marital Assets?

Divorce proceedings can sometimes take a contentious turn, with one spouse deliberately attempting to hinder the other from receiving their rightful share of marital assets. This behavior, known as the ‘dissipation’ of marital property, can introduce complexities into the property division process.

For example, one spouse might withdraw funds from a joint bank account and conceal them in an undisclosed location. Alternatively, a spouse may engage in extravagant spending with the intent of depleting marital funds solely to deprive the other spouse. The transfer of assets, such as a rare coin collection or a vehicle, to a third party may also be considered dissipation of marital assets.

In such situations, the concerned spouse may be concerned about losing the asset or funds, but that may not be the final outcome. A judge has the authority to penalize the party responsible for dissipating assets by requiring them to reimburse what they improperly concealed or spent.

Additionally, they may be ordered to cover the legal fees of the other party. Our diligent divorce attorneys are well-versed in the laws pertaining to property dissipation and can work to ensure that all marital assets are accurately assessed and fairly divided during the property division process.

Who Resides in the Family Home During Divorce?

As per Maryland Family Law Code §8-201, a marital home, also known as a family home, is defined as the primary residence of the individuals involved in a divorce case. To qualify as a family home, a residence must meet the following criteria:

  • The parties used it as the principal residence when they lived together.
  • It was owned or leased by one or both spouses at the time the divorce process commenced.
  • It is being used or will be used as the primary residence by one or both parties and their child or children.
  • It was not acquired by a party before marriage or received through inheritance or as a gift from a third party.
  • It has not been excluded as a family home by a prior agreement between the parties.

For many married couples, their home represents one of their most significant assets, and determining who can reside in it during or after a divorce can lead to disputes. According to state law, a judge may grant one spouse the exclusive right to live in the home for a period of up to three years after the final divorce, known as “use and possession.”

Obtaining "Use and Possession" in a Divorce

To be eligible for use and possession, a spouse must have custody of at least one of the couple’s children. When deciding whether to allow one spouse to continue residing in the home, a judge may take various factors into account, including the potential financial hardship it may impose on the other party. Additionally, it must be in the best interests of the children to remain in the home after their parents’ divorce.

The use and possession arrangement terminates at the end of the assigned period determined by the judge, when the youngest child of the couple reaches the age of 18 or if the spouse residing in the home remarries. Spouses seeking a use and possession order should consult with knowledgeable Rockville divorce lawyers who specialize in family law matters.

Determining Spousal Support in Rockville: Factors Considered by Judges

Unlike child support, which follows a rigid mathematical formula, determining alimony in a divorce is a matter of the court’s discretion. A judge is responsible for striking a balance between the financial requirements of the spouse with a lower income and the financial capacity of the higher-earning spouse to provide support. This task becomes particularly complex when one spouse gives up a lucrative job to take on caregiving responsibilities for their children.
In the comprehensive assessment of a spouse’s alimony request, a judge may consider specific factors to inform their decision. These factors may include:

  • The self-sufficiency of the requesting spouse.
  • The duration needed for the requesting party to acquire the necessary education or training for employment.
  • The length of the marriage.
  • Each party’s contributions to the family’s well-being.
  • The standard of living maintained during the marriage.
  • The capacity of the spouse from whom alimony is requested to meet their own requirements while fulfilling their support responsibilities.
  • The eligibility of each party for retirement benefits.

While a judge is not obligated to adhere to a formal checklist, they must demonstrate that they have duly considered all pertinent factors when determining spousal support. A divorce attorney well-versed in alimony considerations can assist in assessing whether a spouse may be eligible for such payments.

Rehabilitative vs. Indefinite Alimony

Spousal support aims to assist the financially dependent spouse in reentering the workforce and achieving financial independence. Consequently, judges often grant rehabilitative alimony for a specific duration rather than indefinitely. In making this determination, the court may assess the amount of time required for the dependent spouse to acquire adequate education and training to secure suitable employment and attain financial self-sufficiency.

In certain instances, regardless of the level of education or job training achieved, a spouse may be unable to attain financial self-sufficiency. For example, an elderly or disabled spouse may not be capable of holding gainful employment. In such cases, a judge may award indefinite alimony intended to provide support for as long as it is needed.

Even in cases of indefinite alimony, circumstances may change, necessitating a modification or termination of the spousal support arrangement. For instance, the paying spouse may lose their job or retire, rendering them incapable of reasonably fulfilling their alimony obligation. Seasoned Rockville divorce lawyers can guide a spouse on how alimony determinations are made and how to prepare for post-divorce life financially.

Impact of Marital Misconduct on Spousal Support and Property Division

In a divorce proceeding, a judge may take into account various factors, including the circumstances that led to the breakdown of the marriage. Marital misconduct, such as adultery, is a prime example of such circumstances. If one spouse’s adultery played a substantial role in the breakdown of the marriage, a judge may opt to grant the other spouse a greater share of the marital assets.

This factor can also come into play when determining spousal support. If one spouse subjected the other to abuse or mistreatment during the marriage, the judge may consider this behavior when deciding on spousal support.

However, it’s important to note that marital misconduct, while a relevant consideration in property division and spousal support awards, does not guarantee that the aggrieved spouse will receive everything. Marital misconduct is just one of many pertinent factors, and a judge has the discretion to deny alimony, regardless of fault, if other factors indicate that such a decision is warranted. Hence, any spouse engaged in an alimony case, whether they are seeking it or contesting it, can find value in seeking advice from experienced Rockville divorce lawyers.

Considering Tax Implications in Divorce

When couples negotiate arrangements for child custody and asset division during divorce proceedings, it’s crucial to take specific tax issues into account. Depending on each party’s tax bracket and financial situation, it may be advantageous to negotiate different terms with the assistance of a trusted divorce attorney.

For example, divorcing couples can negotiate who will be eligible to claim the children as dependents for income tax purposes. Additionally, only one parent may claim the “head of household” tax filing status. If both parents attempt to claim this status, it may lead to an IRS audit of their tax returns.

Another crucial consideration pertains to the tax treatment of spousal support. It’s essential to determine whether spousal support payments will be taxable to the recipient spouse or the paying spouse. As per current Maryland law, the paying spouse is not allowed to deduct spousal support payments from their income taxes, and the recipient spouse cannot include these payments in their income for tax purposes.

Contact Rockville Divorce Lawyers Today

Divorce, even when both parties agree on most aspects of the separation, is a significant legal matter. The court must approve the parties’ agreement and ensure it is fair and voluntary. Common points of contention often include the distribution of marital assets, alimony payments, child support obligations, and child custody arrangements.

Rockville divorce lawyers serves as your advocate in all these aspects. They can provide guidance on the legal process, manage the necessary paperwork, and represent your interests during court hearings and mediation sessions. Additionally, an attorney can aid in creating settlement agreements to streamline the divorce process. Get in touch with our Rockville family lawyer today to discover how we can assist you.

Look for counsel?

Contact Us