Family Law: Frequently Asked Questions

Divorce and other family law matters can be contentious, stressful, delicate and exhausting. The Law Office of Dawn M. Green focuses 100 percent on family law, and our namesake attorney is dedicated to reducing your stress and finding workable options for your situation.

Understanding Maryland law related to divorce and other family legal challenges empowers you to make the best choices for yourself and your family. Ms. Green has drafted answers to some of the most commonly asked questions that are heard at our office in Annapolis.

Answers To Commonly Asked Family Law Questions

What does it mean to file for a "no-fault" divorce?

Maryland is one of many states that offer no-fault divorces, which simply mean that the party filing to dissolve the marriage does not have to allege or prove any wrongdoing by their spouse in order to proceed with the divorce process. If you choose a no-fault divorce, you will need to demonstrate that the two of you have been separated for a year unless there is a written agreement resolving all issues. If you and your spouse have children, the state's child support and custody statutes will still apply to your case.

Do I have to pay child support after my divorce is complete even if I am unemployed?

It is likely that you will be asked to pay child support. Maryland expects both parents to provide support to their children after a divorce. The amount to be paid is based on the actual adjusted combined income of both parents. If you are unemployed, your income may be based up on a determination of what potential income you may be able to contribute.

If I bought a big-screen television for my "man cave" during my marriage, do I get to keep it now that we are getting divorced?

When it comes to property in a divorce, most property or assets acquired during the marriage may be considered a marital asset. That means that they could be considered available for division under Maryland's legal principle of "equitable distribution," regardless of who bought it or whose name it is titled. If you and your soon-to-be ex are on friendly enough terms, you may be able to come up with an agreement related to property division (on your own or with the help of a mediator) and the judge may accept it.

How can I receive part of my ex-spouse's retirement account as part of our divorce agreement?

The division or reassignment of a retirement account — whether it be a pension, a defined benefit plan, an IRA or a 401(k) — in Maryland divorces requires a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO. These orders address a number of key issues that the retirement plan administrator will need answers to in order to provide part or all of the funds to you. The QDRO is a special legal instrument and requires an experienced family law lawyer to properly create them. Simply having a dollar amount mentioned in relation to retirement accounts in your divorce paperwork will not ensure you receive the funds.

What are some of the major benefits of using mediation to reach a divorce settlement?

If you are able to resolve some or all of your divorce agreement without litigation, some of the significant benefits can include:

  • Lower overall legal costs
  • Shorter timeline for the divorce decree to become final
  • Less stress for you and your children
  • Less damage to your ability to co-parent with your ex
  • More control over the outcome of your agreement — you and your spouse decide the terms, not a judge
  • Iterative nature of negotiation minimizes all-or-nothing thinking when making offers

Our firm can advise you at any stage of a mediation process, acting as your intermediary or providing counsel on the legal consequences of significant choices.

More Questions About Family Law? We Would Love To Answer Them.

Our firm is dedicated to compassionate, informed, honest counsel and representation for families in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. Call 410-280-2696 today to set up a confidential case consultation, or use our online contact form.