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Rockville MD Divorce Law Blog

What the gay marriage decision means for Maryland couples

Maryland began legally recognized same-sex marriage on Jan. 1, 2013. With this week’s historic U.S. Supreme Court decision, same-sex marriages that were performed in Maryland, or any other state, must now be recognized by all other states.

On Friday, the Supreme Court announced that it had reached a 5-4 ruling in favor of gay marriage after the gay marriage bans in four states were challenged as being unconstitutional.

When a child custody or support modification may be needed

When Maryland parents divorce, they will typically reach an agreement regarding custody and support. However, life sometimes throws us curves, and changes may need to be made. While the changes may be in your favor - such as an offer out-of-state for a high-paying job - the court will be thinking about the best interests of your child as well. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to request a modification.

Besides jobs and relocation, there other situations in which you may need to modify your current child custody agreement. A noncustodial parent may actually want a higher percentage of custody and may be able to get it if he or she can prove extreme circumstances such as child abuse or substance use.

Are medical expenses included in the child support I pay?

After a divorce or breakup, many noncustodial parents in Maryland dutifully pay their required child support every month. Depending on their income, these parents may pay hundreds of even thousands of dollars a month. But then they may be forced to make additional payments for medical expenses. Aren't these expenses already included in the monthly child support, and if not, what types of expenses must be shared by both parents?

Monthly child support payments pay for everyday expenses such as food, clothing, housing and school-related costs. The payments do not include medical bills not paid for by insurance. When a child is covered under a parent's medical plan and there are bills that need to be paid out of pocket, these are called extraordinary expenses. Health care is not cheap, so medical bills not covered by insurance can exceed hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Therefore, it is only fair that both parents pitch in and help pay them.

Desertion: One of the 7 grounds for divorce in Maryland

In Maryland, a divorce is granted for one of seven reasons. One of these reasons is desertion. Desertion refers to one spouse's leaving the family home without cause. There are two types of desertion: actual and constructive. Read on to find out how the elements involved and how to prove them in a high asset divorce.

Actual desertion is when one party leaves the home without cause. In order to prove this in a divorce, the party who was deserted must show that the spouse who left intended to file for divorce. The person who was deserted also must not have agreed to the other spouse leaving the home. The couple must be beyond reconciliation and the person must have been gone for at least one year.

Child support may still be required in absence of visitation

Some Maryland parents believe that if they don't pay child support, then they don't have to be responsible for the life they helped create. What many don't understand is that child support and visitation rights are not connected. When a person is determined to be a child's father, he or she has a duty to pay child support. Read on to learn more about the laws regarding child custody and support.

The courts believe it is in the best interests of the child to have two parents. Therefore, it's not as simple as just signing away one's parental rights and never seeing the child again. The only way a mother or father could give up their rights is if there is another adult willing to take over parental rights, such as the parent's new spouse. In extreme cases, a parent's rights could be taken away if he or she is accused of abuse.

Navigating the process of a high-asset divorce

Many Maryland couples struggle with their marriages. Unfortunately, the issues that crop up - such as finances, infidelity or clashing personalities - often lead to divorce. While a divorce can eventually lead to freedom for those trapped in unhappy marriages, the divorce process can be much more stressful than the actual marriage. Many couples refuse to negotiate, and the result can be a nasty court battle. But no matter what happens, the right lawyer will fight for your rights every step of the way.

While one party may want to get the divorce process over with as soon as possible, the other party may refuse to negotiate or even talk to the other spouse out of spite. This can lead to a long, drawn-out divorce that does nothing but waste money and time. It's always better when both parties are willing to negotiate and settle a dispute out of court, but when that's not possible, an experienced family law attorney will be able to effectively present your case in front of a judge.

What happens to retirement plans in a high asset divorce?

Some Maryland residents spend their entire career - several decades or longer - saving for retirement. By the time they retire, they may have amassed a large sum of money - perhaps millions of dollars. But with the recent trend toward divorce late in life, this money may not be totally secure. Retirement plans such as pensions, stocks and 401(k)s are considered assets in a divorce, so these accounts are subject to division. This means that the other spouse may be able to claim his or her fair share should the marriage end. Read on to find out more about what happens to retirement plans in a high asset divorce.

Assets are split based on state law. Retirement plans are split the same as any other asset. In Maryland, assets are split equitably, so the judge will make a determination based on what he or she is fair. It may not be a 50-50 split. In fact, if both spouses are fairly financially secure or have similar amounts of money in their retirement plans, then the plans may not even need to be divided.

Who keeps the engagement ring in a property division dispute?

Maryland has equitable distribution laws in place for couples looking to divide assets in a divorce. But, the laws are not so straightforward when it comes to deciding who keeps the engagement ring in the event that the couple splits before marriage. Many men spend thousands of dollars on the perfect ring when it comes time to propose, so it would only seem fair that they would be able to keep it should the relationship go sour. While the ring went to the "innocent" person in the past, modern law has changed dramatically and property division is based on the situation.

The outcome depends on the situation as well as the state. For example, the ring may have been given as a gift, particularly if it was given on a birthday, Christmas, Valentine's Day or other holiday, and therefore should not be returned to the giver. There is also the fault approach, which means that the person who breaks off the engagement loses possession of the ring. In the no-fault situation, the ring is considered conditional and must be given back to the giver if the marriage does not occur. In many cases, the situation is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In most cases, however, the no-fault approach is used.

Creating an accurate child support plan through diligence

Maryland uses a calculator and formula to determine the amount of money that non-custodial parents must pay. However, disputes arise when the support payment causes a financial burden. Most non-custodial parents are obligated to pay child support, but this can be problematic when they are suffering from job loss, bankruptcy or a job with irregular income. But, by thoroughly assessing one's economic and employment situations, it's possible to reach an agreement that is favorable for both sides.

Not everyone earns a regular paycheck. Some people own their own businesses and therefore cannot predict their income. Some work as independent contractors or freelancers and may make a lot of money in a short period of time and then be without work for several months or longer. It's important to create a child support agreement that takes these situations into consideration. It's also crucial that the agreement include expenses such as medical bills, college tuition and other irregular situations.

Does child support extend to college tuition and expenses?

Many Maryland parents count down the days until their child turns 18 and legally becomes an adult - especially non-custodial parents who are paying child support. These parents may wrongfully assume that their responsibility ends at age 18, but in reality they may be paying child support for at least another four years. Why? Because some states mandate that parents pay for their child's college tuition and expenses. Although Maryland is not one of those states, you might still be on the hook for your son's or daughter's college tuition.

Future college expenses are often discussed during the divorce process. The details are ironed out to avoid a child support dispute later on down the road. But, if there is no agreement in place, then it may be up to the judge to determine what is fair for both parents as well as the child.

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Gaithersburg Divorce Lawyers Video

http://www.mckeonlawfirm.com 202-742-1800 The McKeon Law Firm handles marital property issues in divorce. The attorneys are experienced in business valuation & tracing assets. Contact us in Gaithersburg, Maryland for property division matters.

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