Bethesda Family Law
Family law is an area of the law concerning domestic relations and family matters such as marriages, civil unions, domestic partnerships, adoptions, child custody, and paternity. Family law cases will be on the civil side of the docket, and such cases can be expensive and stressful to handle.
Many family law cases involve important decisions relating to finances, duties, and rights of respective parties in a domestic relationship. Family law cases can be extremely important to people because the outcomes can affect the futures of the people involved as well as their children in some cases.
Types of Family Law Cases
The experienced Maryland family law attorneys at Shah & Kishore represent people all over the state and have experience handling a wide variety of family law issues. Our firm has assisted clients throughout the greater Bethesda area which is a vibrant community known for their schools, beautiful parks, shopping and the nightlife on Bethesda Row.
We may be able to assist you in such matters as:
- Child Custody — The presumption of Maryland law is that both natural parents are the natural custodians of their children, and the law does not favor either a mother or father. Either parent can petition a circuit court in Maryland for custody of a child, and when the parties cannot agree about custody, a court can grant custody solely to one of the parents or shared between parents. State law looks at the best interests of a child when deciding on child custody and visitation. Grandparents and other parties can seek custody, but the presumption in favor of natural parents will make the process difficult. No custody or visitation arrangement is ever permanent, as parents always have the right to petition a court to modify an order.
- Property Division — Maryland is an equitable property state, which means any property possessed by either spouse during the marriage will be presumed to be marital property unless it is shown that the property was actually separate property. A court will not divide property equally if the division is unjust. Marital property often includes all earnings during marriage and everything else that was acquired with the earnings and all debts incurred during a marriage. In contrast, non-marital property can include gifts and inheritances given to just one spouse and the proceeds of a pension that were vested before marriage. A business owned by one spouse before marriage remains their separate property during the marriage, although a portion could be considered marital property if the business increased in value during the marriage or both spouses worked at it.
- Alimony — Alimony is often rehabilitative in Maryland, meaning that the award will only last long enough for a dependent spouse to become self-supporting. Alimony can only be awarded before the finalization of a divorce, meaning that a party who fails to make a claim for alimony cannot come back later to file a claim. The Court of Appeals of Maryland held in Altman v. Altman, 282 Md. 483, 386 A.2d 766 (Md. 1978) that the “long-standing rule in Maryland has been that the right to claim alimony is extinguished at the time of the severance of the marital relationship.” It is possible for a husband or wife to be ordered to pay alimony.
- Mediation — Mediation is a voluntary effort to try and reach an agreement in a family law case, but it cannot be mandatory. Courts cannot force people to reach agreements, so it is always possible that mediation does not result in an agreement and a case continues in court. The upside to mediation is that it is confidential, meaning that anything you say during mediation cannot be used against you in court. Mediation can prove to be cost-effective for many people who are willing to make certain sacrifices to make agreements work.
- Parenting Plan Modifications — Courts require people to submit parenting plans in any case involving custody of a minor child. Parties receive parenting plan documents at their first court hearing, and parties who cannot agree on a plan need to submit a Joint Statement or CC-DR-110. The parenting plan will be a written document outlining how the parties will raise their child and cover how the parties will make major decisions about a child as well as when the child will spend time with each parent.
- Spousal Support — Spousal support is essentially another name for alimony, and the types of support may include pendente lite support (also known as temporary alimony), which is temporary relief that ends when a judge issues a final divorce order. Rehabilitative support, which is also called permanent alimony, is paid in perpetuity.
- Asset Division — Maryland’s Marital Property Act determines property division matters. Assets may include cash balances, stocks, bonds, insurance policies, security deposits, retirement accounts, investment portfolios, collectibles, art, and memorabilia.
- Business Division in a Divorce or Military Divorce — People who own businesses will have multiple concerns during a divorce, including any real property tied to their business, equipment, products, vehicles, office furniture, and other physical assets a company owns and uses, stocks and shares in a company itself, and financial assets and records such as income, profit, and tax returns. It will be important for a person to work with a reputable business valuation expert who can properly estimate the current value of a business.
The family law section of the Maryland statutes is broken into 16 titles:
- Title 1. Definitions; General Provisions
- Title 2. Marriage
- Title 3. Breach of Promise to Marry and Alienation of Affections
- Title 4. Spouses
- Title 5. Children
- Title 6. Single Parents [Repealed]
- Title 7. Divorce
- Title 8. Deeds, Agreements, and Settlements Between Spouses; Property Disposition in Divorce and Annulment
- Title 9. Child Custody and Visitation
- Title 9.5. Maryland Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
- Title 10. Support in General
- Title 11. Alimony
- Title 12. Child Support
- Title 13. Support of Parents and Adult Children
- Title 14. Adult Protective Services
- Title 15. Governor’s Council on Adolescent Pregnancy [Transferred]
Contact Our Maryland Family Law Attorney
If you are dealing with a family law matter anywhere in Maryland, you need to invest in legal representation so you can get the help you need throughout the process. Shah & Kishore understands how confusing these types of issues can be for most people and we will work closely with you throughout your entire case so there is never a moment that you are left to figure anything out on your own.
Our family law firm is based in Rockville but serves clients in communities throughout the greater Bethesda area, including but not limited to Gaithersburg, Potomac, Silver Spring, Germantown, Montgomery Village and all of Montgomery County. Contact our Maryland family law attorneys at (301) 315-0001 to schedule a free consultation.