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When you decide to enter into a prenuptial agreement or a marital settlement agreement, there are several critical phases. There’s the phase where you and the other party negotiate the terms of the agreement, and you work to ensure that all the terms adequately protect your interests. There’s also the phase where you and the other party execute the agreement, and you work to ensure that the document you sign matches the bargain you struck during the negotiation phase. Finally, there may be a phase where you have to litigate to enforce the agreement and get the benefit of the contract you signed. At each of these phases, your chances of getting the fairest possible outcome can be enhanced by having legal representation from an experienced Maryland spousal support (alimony) lawyer.

That’s because, at any phase, things can go astray from what you wanted… and executed.

For example, there’s the alimony case of X.L. and H.L., a couple who, in March 2016, worked out a prenuptial agreement. In that document, both spouses agreed to waive the right to receive alimony in the event of separation or divorce. They married one month later.

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For most people, one of the biggest financial transitions we’ll make is from full-time employment to retirement. The move into retirement comes with many changes, and often involves a substantial reduction in income. When that happens, that reduction may entitle you to obtain a reduction in the amount of alimony you owe… or maybe even elimination of your entire remaining alimony obligation. A knowledgeable Maryland alimony lawyer can help guide you through the process and obtain a modification that is fair based on your new circumstances.

F.H. was one of those people. He planned to retire from work in early 2021 at the age of 71. He, however, remained obligated to pay his ex-wife $2,500 per month in indefinite alimony following a 2015 divorce. The husband, as a result, filed a motion with the court to get his indefinite alimony terminated.

In Maryland, getting your indefinite alimony terminated requires demonstrating several things to the court. For one thing, you have to show that there has been a “material change in circumstances that justify” the termination. This, by the way, can be a change on your end or your ex-spouse’s end. For example, if you become disabled and your post-disability income is a mere fraction of the $300,000 you were making as a physician, that might make termination justified. Alternately, if your spouse gets a new job making double what she did before, that might also be the sort of change of circumstances that justifies termination of your alimony obligation.

For many couples, separation agreements are very useful tools. If you go that route, it’s important to make sure that your separation agreement is sufficiently detailed in all areas. For example, with alimony, it’s not enough to say “how much” and “for how long,” but also to address things like “when may the supporting spouse seek modification?” An experienced Maryland divorce lawyer can help you with negotiating and executing an agreement that is fair, complete, and clear.

Of course, even once you’ve done that, there may be pitfalls. For example, what happens if your spouse, who owes you alimony, experiences a non-permanent downturn in his income? Often, a temporary dip in income is not enough to lead to a reduction in your alimony but it depends on the exact wording of your separation agreement. A knowledgeable legal advocate can be essential in protecting your right to receive alimony.

Take, for example, the alimony case of C.T., a successful anesthesiologist, and his wife, R.L. They separated in 2015 and, three years later, worked out a separation agreement. That document called for the husband to pay alimony of $6,000 per month for 47 months, and then pay a lesser sum for the next 88 months.

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Here in Maryland, a prenuptial agreement can be a very beneficial thing for both you and your future spouse. Some people consider a prenuptial agreement to be the cynical ploy of someone who’s already planning a divorce before the wedding has even occurred, but that is rarely the reality. A well-written and fairly negotiated prenuptial agreement can give you confidence that you and your spouse will be in control, rather than a court, if the marriage eventually ends. Making sure that both you and your spouse are working with knowledgeable Maryland prenuptial agreement lawyers can go a long way in ensuring you get something that is fair, mutually agreeable, and largely safe from a subsequent legal attack.

Prenuptial agreements have been in the news a lot lately. In December, music mogul Dr. Dre finalized his divorce. During that litigation, the hip-hop icon sought to enforce a prenuptial agreement. The wife strongly opposed, arguing that she signed the agreement under duress.

Four months earlier, another celebrity prenuptial agreement dispute came to a close. Singer and talk-show host Kelly Clarkson successfully argued for the enforcement of the prenuptial agreement that she and her husband signed. News reports generally did not indicate why the husband thought the prenup was invalid.

Proper recordkeeping is a must when it comes to preparing tax returns, but it’s not the only place where good recordkeeping can be incredibly valuable. Divorce is another legal area where the difference between success and failure could be your good records, or a lack thereof. Good records may be the critical evidence you need to substantiate your position. On the flip side, if your spouse is making a financial argument that isn’t supported by appropriate documentation, you may, with the help of a knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer, be able to use that lack of paperwork to defeat their argument.

You can see that in action in a recent divorce case from Montgomery County.

The husband married his wife in Bangladesh in 2011 and brought her to the United States, where he’d lived since 1998. In 2019, the couple split up and, a year later, the wife filed for divorce. At the time that the wife filed for divorce, the husband had nearly $219,000 in a Bank of America account. Four weeks later, that account balance was just under $11,000.

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You’ve probably heard the phrase “timing is everything.” In your divorce, timing isn’t everything, but definitely can be a crucial thing. If you wait too long to take action, that inaction could have massive negative implications for you. Don’t let it happen to you. Instead, once you’re served notice of your spouse’s divorce filing, reach out and retain a skilled Maryland divorce lawyer, who can help you make sure you’re taking the right actions at the right times.

A recent Washington County contested divorce is an example of what can happen when you wait too long to act. The wife filed and properly served notice of the divorce to the husband, but the husband never submitted a responsive filing with the court.

The court sent the husband a “notice of default” and scheduled a hearing. The husband still did nothing and so the court issued a divorce judgment in the husband’s absence.

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For many ex-spouses who are also recipients of alimony as part of a Maryland divorce or annulment, that alimony money represents an important part of their monthly income. When it doesn’t come, the financial consequences can be serious. That’s why the law has processes set up to motivate your ex-spouse and hopefully expedite their paying you the unpaid sums you’re owed. If you’re not getting the alimony you should as part of your divorce or annulment, get in touch with a Maryland divorce lawyer right away.

Sometimes, these unpaid alimony arrearages can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Such was the case for one immigrant couple who settled in Montgomery County.

The husband and wife married in Egypt in 1976, then divorced in 1985. They remarried once again in 1986. Presumably unbeknownst to the wife, the husband had married another woman during the year-long divorce and remained married to her when he and the wife remarried.

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Marriages, especially those entered into by spouses with pre-established careers, can lead to complex divorces when they break down. These kinds of divorces arise when a spouse entered the marriage with substantial non-marital assets, but then also continued to grow their wealth during the course of the marriage. When a marriage like that ends in divorce, it is critical, in order to get everything you deserve, to obtain a judgment that accurately identifies what’s a marital asset and what’s non-marital. A skilled Maryland divorce lawyer can be essential to getting this done right.

The marriage of a businessman and a social worker from Montgomery County was an example of this kind of union. The marriage lasted just two years before irretrievably breaking down.

Much of the divorce litigation centered on the husband’s 401(k) plan. Before the pair wed, the husband worked for a very large bank and had a 401(k) through his employer. Shortly after he and the wife married, the husband rolled that 401(k) over into another account.

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In music and other popular media, there is the stereotype of the deceitful spouse who, during the pendency of the couple’s divorce, empties the couple’s bank accounts and absconds with the funds. That stereotype exists because that sort of malfeasance does happen sometimes. If it has happened to you, or if you have been wrongfully accused of engaging in this type of misconduct, you need a knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer going to bat for you.

One Baltimore County couple had a $100,000 dispute of this type in their divorce case. The husband had withdrawn $100,000 from certain marital accounts. The wife said that the husband had impermissibly dissipated the funds, while the husband said that the withdrawals were related to the legal fees he’d amassed in the divorce litigation.

At the outset, it’s important to recognize a few things. One, in Maryland, dissipation of assets occurs when one spouse wastes, spends, or sells a marital asset for reasons not related to the marriage or to reduce the amount his/her spouse will get in the final divorce judgment’s property award.

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When the court orders you to do something as part of your divorce, the best plan of action is to do as the order demands. Sometimes, though, questions may still remain regarding whether or not you’ve complied with the order. If you haven’t, the possibility of being found in contempt of court arises. Be aware, though, that there are special rules that govern when a judge can and cannot find you in contempt and, if the judge has not followed the proper procedures, you can, with the help of a skilled Maryland divorce lawyer, get that contempt finding tossed out.

A lot of times, when a couple with children goes through a divorce, child-related issues are at the forefront. Sometimes, though, that is not the case. Sometimes, items of property are the things about which the spouses contest most heavily.

Those issues can become heated, especially if the items in dispute are rare or unique. A recent Baltimore County divorce case is a good example of this. The couple was the parents of two boys, but the children were not what produced the most litigation. Rather, five items of personal property were.

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