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A: It is now more difficult for sensitive personal information to make its way into court documents and onto the Internet (see Md. Gen. Provi. 1-322.1). This helps to protect Maryland residents – and those filing for divorce – from being subjected to the possibility of identity theft or an invasion of privacy.

A: It can be difficult for people going through a divorce or separation to change from a two-income household to a single-income household. Many find that their monthly expenses double when they now have separate household and living costs. This situation can place an incredible burden on both parties to cover all of their expenses in a timely manner. When billing deadlines are missed, credit scores can be affected.

A: Maryland is an “equitable property” state, meaning that all marital property acquired during the marriage is to be divided equally. Marital property comprises any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. This property should be divided equally unless the court determines that equal division would be unjust.

Divorcing couples often determine how to divide their property and debts themselves, rather than leave it to a judge. However, if spouses cannot agree, their dispute can be submitted to the court, and state law will be used to divide the property.

A: Marital property comprises all of the assets acquired by either one or both spouses throughout the marriage. This is true regardless of how assets are titled (unless they were received as an inheritance or a gift, or if they are excluded by agreement).

A: The length of time it takes to get a divorce in Maryland depends on the grounds for divorce, the length of the separation, and numerous other factors related to the size of the marital estate and the length of the marriage.

The divorce process in Maryland is a lengthy one. If you do not have grounds to file for an immediate absolute divorce, you must wait one year and one day before you can file a complaint for a divorce. After that, it may take several more months before the parties appear in court.

A: Even if you are going through mediation in your divorce, a lawyer can still offer many benefits. An attorney can help you understand your legal exposure (i.e. your best and worst-case scenarios for financial support, child custody, reimbursements, property debt, etc.).

Divorce lawyers are sometimes retained to join a spouse in mediation sessions, or to strategize, support, and coach spouses throughout the mediation process and review and/or revise final divorce forms. In some cases, spouses only need one to three hours with an experienced lawyer to devise a strategy.

A: While not always the case, mediation often requires five sessions or less to conclude. A number of factors play a role in determining how many mediation sessions are required to reach a resolution. Each mediation session generally lasts about two hours. The first session usually focuses on gathering information, setting ground rules, and explaining the process.

A: Mediation is a process in which spouses work with a neutral third party to attempt to reach a settlement. The intention of mediation is to bring together two parties to reach a resolution. During mediation, both sides present their views and a mediator works with them to try to work out a settlement.

A: If you have a family law case in Maryland that involves alimony, child custody, or visitation, you will likely appear before what is known as a “family magistrate.” Magistrates are attorneys who work for the county (or contract with the county) to make recommendations in cases of divorce. Family magistrates are familiar with the Divorce Code and have experience practicing family law in Maryland. Magistrates listen to the facts presented by both parties and determine the outcome of cases.

A court order will be issued if both parties agree to the magistrate’s findings. However, if either party objects to the magistrate’s findings, they can request the case be heard by a judge.

A: To file for a divorce in Maryland, you must be a Maryland resident for at least one year. There is an exception if the grounds for divorce arose after you moved to the state.

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