Jeffrey N. Greenblatt

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Jeffrey N. Greenblatt of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA

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Rockville MD Divorce Law Blog

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What are the steps to determining child custody?

One of the most important issues any parent will have to consider after a divorce or separation is child custody. Not only is this a highly personal and emotional topic for parents, but it is often the source of some of the most fierce conflicts, both in and out of court. The Maryland legal system recognizes this potential, which is why they have established rules of procedure to try to minimize conflict between parents. The system also tries to encourage cooperation amongst the parents to achieve a child custody and visitation arrangement that can accommodate both parents' rights to play an active role in raising their children.

Unless there is a very strong reason to deny parents shared legal custody, such as a history of abuse, debilitating substance use or addiction, insanity or incarceration, both parents are entitled to an equal say in how a child is to be raised. Under shared legal custody, neither parent's rights are superior to the other, so when areas of disagreement arise, the court must intervene with a solution to the problem.

Understanding grounds for divorce under state law

In Maryland, getting started with a divorce filing isn't always as simple as just filling out some paperwork. Maryland law requires a married couple to meet certain qualifications before an absolute divorce can be granted, so it helps to know what grounds qualify a person to file for divorce before getting started.

According to Maryland law, there are several ways a person can justify seeking an absolute divorce, meaning that a spouse can divorce their partner even if the partner objects. One way is for the couple to have been separated for the requisite period of time. A person must have either lived separately from their spouse for at least two years, and during this time the spouses must not have either had sexual intercourse or even spent a night together under the same roof.

How to determine what property is subject to division in divorce

People in Maryland who are going through divorce face a lot of uncertainty, and surely have a lot of questions on their minds. One of the main concerns in most divorce cases is the family finances, and how that situation may change once couples have finalized their divorce. Under Maryland law, each party is entitled to an equitable property division settlement, meaning only that the decision is fair to both parties. This may not mean an exact fifty-fifty split, and may depend on certain factors.

First of all though, the court must determine what constitutes marital property and what constitutes separate property. Marital property is subject to equitable division, while separate property is considered the property of one of the spouses and will remain that spouse's property after the divorce. Marital property is generally defined as all property obtained during the marriage, including, in most circumstances, assets and debt accrued by either party.

A prenuptial agreement makes sense for many couples

When most people in Maryland prepare to get married, they have a million important things on their mind. Where will the couple live? Who will be responsible for the family's income? All of these decisions require a lot of careful thought, and with so many important issues to take care of, it's not surprising that a lot of couples don't want to think about the "what if." Specifically, they don't want to ask, "What if things don't work out and we decide to divorce?" But given the statistics that "what if" is likely to occur at some point in many marriages, every couple should consider entering into a prenuptial agreement prior to tying the knot.

Prenuptial agreements are incredibly useful when it comes to deciding issues in the event of an eventual divorce, especially when it comes time to determine asset division. The prenup should spell out, in no uncertain terms, what property each spouse should expect to walk away with in the event of a divorce. Unless the couple signs a prenuptial agreement covering the distribution of assets, all of the property obtained during the marriage can become a potential source of disagreement and even litigation during the divorce. While Maryland has not yet signed on to the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which standardizes prenuptial agreement laws nationwide, Maryland statutes still address the issue of prenuptial agreements.

Get debt under control before asset division

People in Maryland know that credit cards are an essential tool in the business world and a part of most people's daily routine. People use credit cards for everything from their daily cup of coffee to major purchases, so it is not surprising that credit card debt can be a major issue in many marriages. It can also be a major issue in a divorce, and people need to protect themselves and their credit by ensuring that their spouse plays by the rules.

Many married couples share financial accounts. As such, it is not surprising that both spouses often have access to the same credit accounts. Sometimes, spouses co-sign, in which case, both may be responsible for the debt incurred, but a spouse may also be added simply as an authorized user. In the later scenario, the authorized user may not be responsible for the other spouse's debt. Nonetheless, in cases where both spouses are responsible for debt on an account, getting rid of debt can save a lot of hassle down the road.

Women missing out on marital assets during property division

People in Maryland may have seen a recent financial editorial article in Forbes, which discussed some of the issues that women, especially women nearing retirement age, may run into, if they get a divorce. Most people realize that they are entitled to an equitable share of all property obtained during the marriage under Maryland divorce laws, but some people may overlook some of the most lucrative marital assets, which may be hidden in plain: 401(k)s, pensions, Social Security benefits and other retirement accounts.

According to a recent survey, it seems that a lot of spouses may have made the same costly mistake by failing to consider their spouse's retirement accounts in their divorce asset division settlement. The survey showed that 31% of all divorced spouses did not attempt to claim a share of these retirement assets, and did not know that they were even able to do so. So long as the retirement assets are accrued during the course of the marriage, odds are that each spouse is entitled to their fair share of them.

Divorce may threaten retirement plans

People in Maryland know that divorce can be an expensive proposition. In Maryland, it means that a divorcing spouse is entitled to an equitable share of all marital property, which is essentially all property obtained during the marriage. When most people think about property division, the first thoughts tend to gravitate towards tangible items, such as the marital home. While real estate is indeed an important piece of the property division settlement, some of the most important pieces of marital property may be tucked away in a 401(k) or other retirement account.

Every American dreams of a comfortable retirement, which is why many people try to save as much as they can for when that day comes when they can set aside their careers and live their lives according to their own rules. Many people receive retirement benefits through their employer, and may also contribute to a separate retirement account. Of course, people also pay a substantial amount towards the Social Security system each month, with the expectation that one day they will be able to rely on these funds.

Jennifer Lopez officially divorced after 3 years

People in Maryland may have heard about superstar couple Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony's recent divorce, which has certainly been a long time coming. The couple originally announced their plan to split up in the summer of 2011, but due to personal decisions and a subsequent delay in court, the divorce didn't become official until last month. The couple has hardly been sitting still for the past three years, though, as both have moved on in their busy careers and also with other romantic partners.

The couple has seemed to work together rather amicably during this time, without any major public spats over the custody of their twin six-year-old children. Divorce during this time in a child's life can be a disruptive event, but it doesn't have to be -- depending on how the parents are able to work together and communicate during this time. Lopez and Anthony have agreed on a child custody arrangement that gives Lopez primary physical custody over the children for most of the month, but Anthony will also have custody of the two kids for seven days each month.

How to plan for property division with taxes in mind

People in Maryland may have seen a recent article which discussed the importance of thing about the tax implications of divorce, and in particular, paying close attention to which assets could trigger big time capital gains tax liabilities. When it comes to property division, every scenario is unique, which is why people need the help of an experienced divorce attorney to help them evaluate and sort out their marital property in the way that provides the most financial stability in the short and long term.

In a perfect world, every divorce would end with a simple property division process in which both parties walked away with equal amounts of cash and everyone is happy. However, in the real world, most couples don't own most of their assets in cash, and generally have at least some of it tied up in investments, retirement accounts, real estate and other property, including automobiles.

Filmmaker Michael Moore in high-asset divorce

The end of a marriage is not an easy event to begin, go through or finalize. This is especially true for high profile or wealthy couples. A high asset divorce often means a complex dissolution. Whether they cannot agree on the distribution of assets and property or financial support, it is important that divorcing spouses address the details of these issues.

Couples in Maryland may know controversial filmmaker Michael Moore for his outspoken stance on a number of hot-button political issues, as well as his highly successful string of feature films, documentaries and books. But Moore has been in the news again lately because of a personal issue, his divorce.

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