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As a spouse going through a divorce in Maryland, you may face many challenges, including concerning alimony and a monetary award. This challenge can become particularly complicated if your spouse is the owner of a small business, especially one that pays for a substantial chunk of his/her personal expenses. Whatever challenges you’re facing in your divorce, you can enhance your odds of getting a fair and appropriate alimony award by retaining an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer.

Skilled counsel can help you persuade the court to look at more than just your spouse’s W2 income when it comes to setting an alimony amount. Take, for example, this recent divorce case from Montgomery County.

The wife filed for divorce in 2021. At trial, the wife asked the court to award her alimony, so the court made findings regarding the spouses’ earning capacity and income.

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A lot of people, when they hear the phrase “equitable” in connection with a divorce case, immediately think “50-50.” That’s not necessarily true. The law actually gives trial courts broad discretion in deciding what is (or is not) equitable, whether that means distributing assets and/or debt obligations evenly or ordering something different. Given the judge’s substantial discretionary power, it is vital to have a knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer on your side, you that you can be confident that the judge has all the information necessary to accurately decide was is a just outcome.

As noted above, a division is not always 50-50. As an example, there’s this divorce-related case from Brookeville.

The spouses worked out a marital settlement agreement in early 2015 that said that the wife would receive the exclusive “use and possession” of the marital home for three years. After that 36-month period elapsed (or if the wife remarried earlier,) the agreement dictated that the home would be listed for sale.

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Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements can be traps for the unwary. Signing an agreement with unfavorable terms can — absent a court judgment invalidating the contract — cost you greatly. (In one recent Maryland case, it cost the husband $7 million.) Before you sign, make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting into. To do that, be sure you’ve consulted with an experienced Maryland prenuptial agreement lawyer.

As another example, there’s D.R. and L.R., a late middle-aged couple who signed their prenuptial agreement in the fall of 1992. The husband’s lawyer drafted the document. The wife’s attorney counseled against signing the agreement, but the wife signed anyway.

The agreement’s terms called for neither spouse to receive alimony and that the couple would not split income or assets. It also said that “the parties expect to reside together in a location, style, and manner mutually suitable to them,” and that ownership “of any homes, residences, or other real property acquired by [husband and wife] shall be held by the parties as Tenants in Common with no rights of survivorship.”

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As a spouse going through a divorce, you’ll face many choices. You may elect to resolve all your issues via a negotiated settlement, all via a trial, or some in each of those two settings. As is true in any negotiation setting, it is exceptionally important to understand when you have a complete agreement, when you have a partial agreement, and when, under the terms of the law, you have no binding agreement at all (even if you and your spouse seemed to reach some consensuses during the conference.) To understand what your legal rights and options are, be sure to get skillful advice from an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer.

Although the central issue driving a recent divorce case from Prince George’s County was child custody, the lessons it teaches are universal across many family law disputes.

A.W. and B.W.’s was a short-term marriage. They wed in 2014, had a child in 2018, and the wife filed for divorce in 2020. In early April 2021, the court convened a remote settlement conference over Zoom.

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The Maryland legal community was shocked to the core by the horrific death of Judge Andrew Wilkinson, who was murdered in his driveway by a man who was litigating his divorce case before the judge. While the killer in this case potentially had mental health issues, divorce litigation can impose an incredible amount of stress and emotion divorce litigation on the spouses going through the process… even those without mental health problems. The stress that’s often involved (and exacerbated if you try to go it alone) is an excellent reason to retain an experienced Maryland family lawyer when litigating your divorce.

Not all divorces are traumatic. An out-of-state lawyer, who began his career clerking for a small-town family court judge, once described an older couple’s appearance in court to finalize their divorce. As the judge inquired whether the couple met the statutory qualifications, one question inadvertently inspired the husband to disclose that the couple had most recently engaged in intimate relations less than one week before the hearing.

The judge explained that she could not grant the divorce because the couple didn’t meet the state’s requirement for being separated, and the couple exited, smiling and joking with one another.

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While divorce trials are matters where the focus falls heavily on the facts in evidence, Maryland still has numerous procedural rules that govern. A spouse’s failure to comply with them can have a very harmful impact on that spouse’s ability to litigate her case before the court. Procedural issues are one area where a skillful Maryland divorce lawyer can be greatly helpful, ensuring that you are fully compliant with all the procedural rules as well as the procedural orders the court issues.

A divorce case from Prince George’s County shows exactly how damaging procedural errors can be.

The spouses in the case married in 2013 and separated in 2019. The wife worked for the federal government, but she also had her own business that, in 2016, transitioned to focus primarily on nutritional supplements. That transition was a success and the wife’s business experienced substantial growth during the spouses’ marriage.

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Back in February, this blog discussed a bill in the General Assembly that would create “no-fault” divorce in this state. That bill passed and, as WUSA reminded its audience today, Maryland’s new no-fault divorce law takes effect tomorrow, October 1. The new law represents an important shift in divorce law in this state. To find out how the new law potentially impacts your divorce, be sure to get the right information by speaking to an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer.

Historically, Maryland law has recognized two types of divorce: limited divorce and absolute divorce. Limited divorce was something that did not end the marriage and did not permit remarriage, but did legalize the spouses’ separation and provide for a court order of support.

Absolute divorce fully ended the marriage, permitted remarriage, and divided all property.

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 30% of all Montgomery County residents were born somewhere outside the United States. That means thousands of people living in Maryland may have married somewhere other than the U.S. and may have even divorced outside this country. If you’re living in this state but you obtained a divorce from somewhere outside the U.S., there are steps you must undertake to make your foreign divorce enforceable here in Maryland. One way to help yourself along the way is to retain an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer who can guide you in getting the Maryland court order you need.

As an example of what’s involved, we can look at this recent divorce case involving a West African couple living in Montgomery County.

C.H. and her husband, J.A., married in the African nation of Togo before relocating to Montgomery County. In June 2018, the wife obtained a divorce judgment from a Togolese court. That court issued the judgment in the official language of Togo, which is French.

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Americans’ attitudes toward pets have changed over the last several decades. Today, many pet owners call themselves “pet parents” and their pets “fur babies.” While these relationships have evolved, animal law has been slow to follow suit. This can present some unique challenges when a married couple who shares a pet (or pets) decides to divorce. As is true of many circumstances surrounding divorce, you have options for dealing with this challenge. To make sure you are protecting your interests — and the best interests of your pet — it is wise to consult with an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer about your situation.

One location where the law is evolving is neighboring D.C. In April of this year, the “Animal Care and Control Omnibus Amendment Act of 2022” took effect. That new law says that, when a couple goes through a divorce or a legal separation proceeding, the trial judge should consider the “best interests” of the “pet animals” when deciding which spouse gets the pets.

Here in Maryland, the law functions differently. Maryland law says that pets are personal property, essential the same as a car, a boat, or a sofa. The significance of that — in terms of a divorce — is that your pets (much like that hypothetical car, boat, or sofa) are subject to equitable distribution if you acquired them during your marriage. (If you brought them into your marriage, the law often will deem them your non-marital property and you will retain them after the divorce. The same is true for pets your spouse brought into the marriage.)

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In elementary school math class, students begin learning about the “order of operations.” This concept governs the sequence in which to complete various mathematical operations in pursuit of the correct solution. In divorce law, we have something similar. Maryland divorce law lays out a specific sequence of mathematical steps to use in calculating the marital and non-marital interests in a property. These computations — and the correct performance of them — can have a major impact on the outcome of your divorce. To make sure you are getting a fair judgment, you need to ensure the court has all the relevant facts. An experienced Maryland divorce lawyer often can provide essential assistance in doing that.

Just like how solving a math equation without following the order-of-operations rules will result in a wrong answer, doing the mathematical steps for calculating marital interest in the wrong order similarly will yield an errant result… one that’s subject to reversal on appeal.

The recent divorce of one Calvert County couple is a good example. J.S. and H.S. married in the summer of 2014. Five months earlier, the husband had purchased a six-bedroom home for $450,000, paying $160,000 down.

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