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A Primer for Divorce
1. Talking it out:
Try and sit down with your spouse to discuss your marital problems. Even if they raise their voice, don't succumb to the urge of screaming back. Keep control of the situation.
2. Professional help:
Suggest talking to a family counselor, minister or psychologist to work through your problems.
3. Talk about the kids:
Don't bring them into the fight. They are alot more resilient then you give them credit, but their armor is only so thick.Remember: Before you decided to separate, both of you touted each other as wonderful parents.
4. Oh yes, child support:
The question is always HOW MUCH??? Both of you are going to have to contribute. One of you will think they are getting too little and the other will think they are paying too much. Fortunately, most states have implemented child support guidelines. This takes the guess work out of who pays what and how much.
5. Domestic Violence:
This is not a humorous topic and a serious problem. Most states have some type of domestic violence statute. If you have been abused, call the police, seek medical attention and file a petition with your local court, police or commissioner. This will send the abuser packing for a cooling off period. However, the alleged abuser will have a hearing generally within 1 week, depending on service and the court system. At that time the court will decide whether to extend the time to stay away or not. Most courts can give you use and possession of your home, temporary custody of your child or children and temporary support. If you ignore the problem, someone is going to get hurt.Remember what we said: You need to help yourself before anyone else can help you.
6. Grounds for Divorce:
Some states have what they call "no fault divorce", which means that either party can separate for any reason and obtain a divorce. Other states require that you give a legal reason for getting a divorce. Here is a snapshot of some grounds:
A. Voluntary Separation: This is where the 2 parties agree that they need to go their own ways. Even though it may not start out that way it can eventually evolve into a mutual agreement. Generally, many states require that you live separate and apart for the statutory period of time. It also means that the two of you have not co-habitated.
B. Desertion: This is where one of the parties leaves without the intention to return. There is also Constructive Desertion, where one the parties leaves for their own protection and that of the child(ren).
C. Adultery: You already know what this is, but in case you left the planet for a few centuries, it is where one spouse has sexual relations with another person--meaning not you. In some states, like Maryland, it is a criminal offense. It carries a maximum fine of $10.00. Cheaper then going downtown for dinner.
D. Bigamy: This is where the one you married is already married to another and never got a divorce-OOPS!
How long must you wait: Every state is different. It can be 30, 60, 90 days or several years. Some states believe that if the marriage is over, then lets move on. Others believe that if you make divorce too easy couples will not try to work out their differences.
Lawyer: Do I need one? I remember the comment... that a person who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer. In plain english, and as my mother would say "...it wouldn't hurt".
Now for the big question, who should you hire and what will it cost. I must confess, you want someone like me. Someone who knows the law, will be your advocate, your knight in shining armor and your champion. While at the same time telling you what you can realistically expect so you can make the decision to attack or retreat, negotiate or litigate. If your spouse want to be a donkey then you don't have much of a choice.
Fees are totally unpredictable. The better and more experienced lawyers charge more per hour. However, their experience can save you money over the less experienced lawyer who does not have the wisdom or experience and will spend more billable hours learning and researching the issues.
Don't spend the farm to fight. I remember the time that a client of mine offered his wife $3,000.00 per month for two children and he was only obligated to pay $1,500.00 per month. Her lawyer thought, "...well if thats the opening bid, then ask for more...." He wanted $5,000.00 per month. My client said go backwards and offer $2,500.00. The lawyer had convinced her that he would get her that $5,000.00 per month. She only got $1,500.00 per month and her legal bill left her no money or equity in her share of the marital home. In another recent story I heard that the husband offered the wife the house, alimony, child support and college. After she spent $150,000.00 legal bill, guess who won.
The motto: Be reasonable and look at what it is going to cost you and discuss those objectives with your attorney.
A couple married or living as residents in Maryland for at least one year, or two years depending on the grounds of divorce specified, can file for divorce.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
|The information contained on this page is not to be considered legal advice. This website is not a substitute for a lawyer and a lawyer should always be consulted in regards to any legal matters. Divorce Source, Inc. is also not a referral service and does not endorse or recommend any third party individuals, companies, and/or services. Divorce Source, Inc. has made no judgment as to the qualifications, expertise or credentials of any participating professionals. Read our Terms & Conditions.|