If you are thinking about a separation or divorce in the State of Maryland, you must know what your rights are and what the possible consequences and benefits are before you even consider a separation or negotiate an agreement. It does not matter whether your issues relate to custody, visitation, support, property distribution, grounds for separation/divorce, or return of your prior name (you can always file a separate one party request for name change either to a prior name or an entirely new name subsequent to your divorce).
Before you move forward with a divorce, (or separate from the other parent of your child), you need to decide how to best maintain your relationship with that person unless you are in an abusive relationship. If you are in an abusive relationship, your (and your child’s) safety is the most important aspect of the separation. If you are in an abusive relationship you should carefully decide if you feel safe and comfortable negotiating with your abuser in the same office (likely not in the same room though) before you agree to move into mediation or settlement discussions. Make sure that you feel you can enter into an agreement that you believe is in your (and if you have children, your children’s) best interest and that you are not just entering into an agreement because the abuser is telling you to.
Clients always ask how much a divorce will cost and it’s truly a case-by-case answer. Alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or collaborative law are options that can keep legal costs down. Read more about alternative dispute resolution here.
Once you understand what your rights are and what you are trying to accomplish, the best and most cost-effective way to move forward is for the parties to agree on all (or most) issues and to address those issues with an attorney (this is the case no matter if this is a divorce with property and custody issues or if the parties were never married and a determination of custody and child support is being sought). Next, your attorney will prepare the appropriate paperwork: Marital Settlement Agreement (or Custody and Child Support Agreement if you are not married) which will then be filed with the court.
There’s your basic beginning to deciding on divorce or separation in Maryland. Don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or feel free to comment below.