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PARENTAL ALIENATION :: Divorce Resources By State

Maryland


Legal overview
Divorce in Maryland requires that you have been resident for at least one year prior to filing for divorce. There are two specific types of divorce in Maryland, limited divorce and absolute divorce. Read our detailed legal summary of Maryland including the grounds required for a divorce, residency, custody, child support, alimony, separation agreements, property, and visitation rights.

Residency
It is important to make sure that before filing for divorce, that you qualify under the state residency requirements. In Maryland if the grounds for divorce occurred outside of Maryland, one of the spouses must have lived in Maryland for at least 1 year prior to filing for divorce. Otherwise, either spouse may file for divorce in Maryland. If insanity is the grounds for divorce, the residency requirement is increased to 2 years. The divorce may be filed for in a county where either spouse resides.

Grounds for Divorce in Maryland
There are two types of divorce in Maryland: A limited divorce and an absolute divorce. A limited divorce specifies the rights and obligations of the parties, but does not provide for final division of property, including such things as pension and retirement funds, and does not permit remarriage. An absolute divorce terminates the marriage and determines all rights and obligations of the parties, including final division of property. A limited divorce may be granted on the following grounds:

Cruelty of treatment of spouse or a minor child
Excessively vicious conduct
Desertion
Parties are voluntarily living separate and apart without cohabitation and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation
An absolute divorce may be granted on the following grounds:

Adultery
Separation of the parties under the following circumstances:
Uninterrupted desertion for at least 12 months, which is deliberate and final and in which there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
Parties are voluntarily living separate and apart without cohabitation for 12 consecutive months and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation
Conviction of one of the parties for a felony or misdemeanor in any state or in any court of the United States, where the party has been sentenced to serve at least three years or an indeterminate sentence in a penal institution and 12 months of the sentence have been served.
Parties have lived separate and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for two year
All requirements for each ground must be met before filing for divorce. There are additional requirements, including residence in the state, in most circumstances. An attorney can help you determine if the requirements for any ground for divorce have been met.

The Separation Agreement
In many instances, the parties to a marriage voluntarily agree to live separate and apart until they can obtain a divorce. The individuals involved may agree, after negotiation on the parties' behalf between their respective lawyers, about the division of their property and other questions pertaining to alimony, child support, custody and visitation. The parties enter such an agreement in writing. This document, known as settlement or separation agreement, fixes the rights and responsibilities of the two parties between each other. It is a binding contract between the two parties, which can generally be enforced by appropriate court action. An exception to this exists in matters concerning child custody and child support; the court always retains jurisdiction over these issues.

Alimony
Alimony is payment for support of a spouse. Under the law of Maryland, either party may claim alimony from the other. The fact that the party seeking alimony may be guilty of some ground for divorce does not prevent an award of alimony to that party. Courts are required to consider many factors in determining the award and amount of alimony. These include, in part, the financial needs and resources of the parties, their income and assets, financial obligations, standard of living and the facts and circumstances leading to separation.

If the parties have reached an agreement on alimony and have placed that agreement in writing, their agreement will govern payment of alimony unless that agreement was obtained by fraud or under duress.

Marital Property
Marital property is defined as all property acquired by either or both parties during their marriage. It does not include property acquired prior to the marriage, property acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party or property excluded by valid agreement or traceable to any of these sources.

Whether or not alimony is awarded, a court may still make a monetary award based on the value of all marital property. In determining the award and amount, the court is required to consider many factors. It is important to bear in mind that the court does not have the power to change the title to property, except for pensions and retirement funds, but may adjust the rights of the parties by giving a monetary award. If either party has a pension or retirement fund entitlement, it is essential that an attorney who is knowledgeable about such matters prepare all necessary documents.

Child Support
Courts have always given the highest priority to the needs of children in divorce proceedings. Each party has a responsibility for the support of a minor child or children. A formula called the child support guidelines is now used by the court to determine the amount of child support. Child support awards are primarily based on the gross incomes of the parties, but each case must be considered on its own facts and circumstances.

If the parties have reached an agreement on child support and have placed that agreement in writing, their agreement will govern payment of child support unless that agreement was obtained by fraud or under duress.


Custody and Visitation
Maryland courts award custody of the minor children to one or both parties according to what is in the best interest of the children. If the physical custody is awarded to one party, visitation rights will generally be granted to the other party. Decision making power regarding the child or legal custody, may be awarded to either party separately or to the parties jointly.

Laws & Courts:

Maryland Law - state statutes. Browse through the sections of "Family Law."
Montgomery County Courts - information on mediation programs, court evaluators, the parenting program, and more. From the Family Division section of Montgomery County Court.

Maryland Judiciary Homepage - includes a listing of Maryland courts, Appellate opinions ('95-Present), and other information.
Maryland Child Support

Child Support Profile - profile the state's child support laws. Easy to use table layout includes information on UIFSA, reciprocity, age of majority (emancipation), statute of limitations, income withholding, paternity, support order establishment, support enforcement, modification and review/adjustment. From the the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement's "Interstate Roster and Referral Guide."

Child Support Enforcement Administration - official statutes, guidelines, forms, worksheets, and other information for both parents and employers.
Additional Resources:

State Law Library - helpful site for conducting legal research. Online searches are available.

Maryland State Bar Association - public information brochures, news, and legal links from the MSBA.

The Child Access Center - advise and guidelines for parents involved in custody disputes. This organization aims to help preserve parent-child relationships. The primary focus is on resolving conflicts and situations involving and related to child custody and visitation.

Children's Rights Council - parent support groups, news and information on shared parenting initiatives. Maryland office of the national organization.

www.dadsdivorce.com
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