What are the grounds for divorce?

DC and Maryland offer no-fault divorces, which means that spouses may divorce after a period of separation.  During the divorce process, a judge will divide marital property, decide issues of custody and child support, and determine if spousal support is appropriate.  Maryland offers fault-based grounds for divorce such as desertion and adultery.

How long does it take to get divorced?

Divorce timelines vary with the complexity and discord between the parties.  A simple or uncontested divorce can be completed in less than 90 days, while a complicated and acrimonious divorce can last years.

How much does a divorce cost?

The cost of a divorce varies with the complexity and duration of the case.  Everyone must pay the filing fees which are less than $200 unless you are indigent and qualify for a fee waiver.  Attorney fees can range from $1500 to $10,000. Other costs (e.g., mediators, investigators, accountants, etc.…) vary by case. 

Can I get divorced online?

Yes.  Covid-19 changed the way divorces are conducted.  In most court houses in the metropolitan area, you can obtain a divorce through a virtual hearing.  In most cases, you no longer have to travel to the courthouse for a hearing that may not last more than 15 minutes. 

What happens to the house when I get divorced?

If one party wants to stay, they can ‘buy out' the other party.  If neither party wants the house, the couple can put the home on the market and split the proceeds equitably.  If both parties want the house, consult an attorney.

What happens to my retirement when I get divorced?

If there is no valid agreement excluding retirement benefits, the retirement income earned during the marriage is marital property and subject to distribution.  It is possible that the divorcing spouse will be entitled to a portion of your retirement benefits.

How do the courts divide our property?

Generally, each party keeps their separate property while marital property is divided equitably.   Separate property is property owned by one party before the marriage, or acquired by gift, inheritance, or valid agreement.  Marital property is anything acquired by either spouse during the marriage, that is not excluded by gift, inheritance, or valid agreement. 

Courts divided marital property using a three-step process. 

First, they identify the marital property.  Sometimes the first step is straightforward.  However, sometimes parties may disagree about what property is marital and what property belongs to one spouse.

Second, the court value the property.  Valuing a bank account can be simple.  However, valuing real property or stocks in a fluctuating market can lead to further disagreement between the parties.

Finally, the court distributes the property, equitably.  The court uses several factors to determine what is fair and equitable. 

Am I entitled to spousal support?

You may be entitled to spousal support if you can demonstrate that you need the support and that the other spouse has the ability to pay.  The court will use discretion and evaluate a variety of factors to determine if ordering spousal support is appropriate. 

How will divorce effect my children?

Divorce is a traumatic event for many families and children are particularly affected.  However, parents can minimize the effects on the children by communicating civilly, putting the needs of the children first and seeking individual and family therapy.  Our office can provide referrals for families experience divorce.