Published on:

In Maryland

Ideally, parties in a divorce proceeding work cooperatively to determine and divide their marital real property and reduce the terms to what will become a portion of a written marital settlement agreement. By proceeding in this fashion, the parties can agree on who has title to the real property owned, who will retain the title to real property, and then work to effectuate the transfer or retention of the same.  Even if one party has already formally instituted divorce proceedings in a Maryland court, it is important to remember that the possibility of reaching an agreement is always available and can often be the best vehicle for a quicker and more affordable way to a final divorce.

If an amicable resolution is not a possibility, then the parties will leave the fate of their real property to a Maryland court.  If a piece of real property is both marital and titled jointly a court can order use and possession (depending on custody of minor children), order the property to be sold or pursuant to the Maryland Annotated Code, Family Law § 8-205:

(a)       (1)  Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, after the court determines which property is marital property, and the value of marital property, the court may transfer ownership of an interest in property described in paragraph (2) of this subsection, grant a monetary award, or both, as an adjustment of equities and rights of the parties concerning marital property, whether or not alimony is awarded.

(2)  The court may transfer ownership of an interest in:

(iii)      subject to the terms of any lien, real property jointly owned by the parties and used as the principal residence of the parties when they lived together, by:

(1)       ordering the transfer of ownership of the real property or any interest of one of the parties in the real property to the other party if the party whom the real property is transferred obtains the release of the other party from any lien against the real property;

(2)       authorizing one party to purchase the interest of the other party in the real property, in accordance with the terms and conditions ordered by the court; or

(3)       both.

A Maryland court will determine the value of the jointly owned real property at issue based on evidence presented by each party at trial.  If use and possession is not an issue and a buy-out and refinance of the property is not an option then a Maryland court will order the sale of the jointly owned real property with net proceeds to be divided between the parties.  Notably, parties to a divorce where minor children are involved should be aware of a Maryland court’s power to award use and possession of real property to one of the parties for a period of up to three (3) years. Use and Possession blog.

Maryland Real Property Concerns When Divorce Occurs Outside of Maryland

Generally and subject to use and possession agreements and Orders, Maryland jointly held marital real property is sold or divided during the pendency of the divorce proceedings unless an agreement is reached otherwise.  This practice, however, is not uniform from state to state.  By way of example, it is possible that you obtain a final divorce decree from another state before your Maryland jointly owned real property is properly sold or divided.  In that instance, by operation of Maryland law, that real property that was held as tenants by the entirety will be converted into real property held by tenants in common[1].  It is essential to understand that a fundamental characteristic of a tenancy by the entirety—the automatic right of survivorship—is absent in a tenancy in common.  In other words, in the event of death, the deceased party’s interest will pass according to the deceased’s Last Will and Testament or the laws of intestate succession, instead of automatically passing to the other party.  Another state granting a divorce before jointly held Maryland real property is properly disposed of, can drastically and fundamentally alter your rights in your Maryland real property.  If you are seeking a divorce in a state other than Maryland but own real property in Maryland, it is important that you consult with a licensed Maryland attorney to understand how your rights in that real property may be impacted.

[1] “Given the valid dissolution of the marriage, Maryland law itself decides what happens to Maryland property, in the light of the facts which are that the former tenants by the entireties are no longer husband and wife. As a result, the parties became tenants in common, not by [out-of-state divorce] decree, but by Maryland law operating on their changed status[.]” Millar v. Millar, 200 Md. 14, 21, 87 A.2d 838, 841 (1952).

 

For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740

 

 

Continue reading →

Published on:

Who are the parties in a Peace Order proceeding?

In a Peace Order proceeding, the person who filed a Petition for Peace Order is called the “Petitioner,” and the person against whom the Petition was filed is called the “Respondent.”

What acts can be grounds for a Peace Order in Maryland?

A person can file a Petition for a Peace Order based on any of the following acts:

  • An act that causes serious bodily harm;
  • An act that places the Petitioner or Petitioner’s employee in fear of imminent serious bodily harm;
  • Assault in any degree;
  • False imprisonment;
  • Harassment;
  • Stalking;
  • Trespass;
  • Malicious destruction of property;
  • Misuse of telephone facilities and equipment;
  • Misuse of electronic communication or interactive computer service;
  • Revenge porn; or
  • Visual surveillance.

 Are Peace Order records open to the public?

In Maryland, most court records are open to the public. Records of Peace Order proceedings are included among the types of records that are open to the public.

A Peace Order can cause serious collateral consequences for the Respondent, such as difficulties in seeking employment or obtaining a lease. However, Maryland law allows records of Peace Order proceedings to be shielded in certain circumstances.

What is a court record?

The court record of a Peace Order proceeding can include an index, docket entry, petition, memorandum, transcript, electric recording, judgment, and any electronic information about the proceeding on the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website.

What is shielding?

Shielding means that the records are removed from public inspection. Shielding of the court records of a Peace Order proceeding does not destroy or erase the records. Shielding does not remove information about the proceeding from the Domestic Violence Central Repository.

For physical records kept in a courthouse, shielding means moving those records to a separate secure area that can only be accessed by someone who has a legitimate reason to access the records.

For electronic records, shielding completely removes all information about the Peace Order proceeding from the Case Search website. This includes the case number, parties’ names, any reference to the Peace Order proceeding, and any reference to the removal of the Peace Order proceeding from the Case Search website.

Who can access a shielded record of a Peace Order proceeding?

For a legitimate reason, a law enforcement officer, an attorney who represents or has represented the Petitioner or the Respondent, a State’s Attorney, an employee of a local Department of Social Services, or a victim services provider can access a shielded record.

Other persons may subpoena or file a motion for access to a shielded record. The court may grant access to a shielded record if the court finds that the requestor has a legitimate reason to access the record. In considering such a request, the court must balance the requestor’s need for access to the record with the parties’ right to privacy and the potential harm of unwarranted adverse consequences to the parties that may be created by the disclosure of the shielded record.

Who is eligible to shield a Peace Order?

The Petitioner, Petitioner’s employee, or Respondent may file a request to shield the court records related to a Peace Order proceeding.

Records related to a Peace Order that was denied or dismissed at the interim, temporary, or final stage are eligible for shielding.

If the Respondent consented to the entry of the Peace Order, the records related to the proceeding are eligible for shielding.

If a Final Peace Order was entered after a contested hearing, records related to the Peace Order proceeding are not eligible for shielding.

When can I file a request to shield Peace Order records?

If the Peace Order was denied or dismissed, a request to shield can be filed 3 years after the denial or dismissal. The requestor can skip this 3-year waiting period if the requestor files a general waiver and release of all tort claims related to the proceeding.

If the Respondent consented to the entry of the Peace Order, a request to shield can be filed any time after the expiration of the Peace Order. If the request to shield was filed within 3 years of the consent to the entry of the Peace Order, the requestor must file a general waiver and release of all tort claims related to the proceeding.

What is the process when a request to shield is filed?

When a request to shield records of Peace Order proceedings is filed, the court will schedule a hearing on the request to shield and will give notice of the hearing to the other party or the other party’s attorney of record.

Flowchart: Shielding of denied or dismissed Peace Orders

The following flowchart explains the considerations that the court will apply to a request to shield the records related to a Peace Order that was denied or dismissed at the interim, temporary, or final stage.

 

Denied-or-Dismissed-Peace-Order-Shielding-STSW

 

Flowchart: Shielding of Peace Orders entered by consent

The following flowchart explains the considerations that the court will apply to a request to shield the records related to a Peace Order that was entered by the Respondent’s consent.

Consent-Peace-Order-Shielding-STSW

Navigating the court system can be a difficult and stressful process. If you are considering trying to shield records related to a Peace Order proceeding, we encourage you to speak to an experienced family law attorney at Silverman Thompson who can assist you in navigating the process from start to finish.

For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740.

 

Continue reading →

Published on:

Who are the parties in a Protective Order proceeding?

In a Protective Order proceeding, the person who filed a Petition for Protective Order is called the “Petitioner,” and the person against whom the Petition was filed is called the “Respondent.”

What are the acts of abuse that can be grounds for a Protective Order in Maryland?

As defined in the Protective Order statute, “abuse” means any of the following acts:

  • An act that causes serious bodily harm;
  • An act that places a person eligible for relief in fear of imminent serious bodily harm;
  • Assault in any degree;
  • Rape or sexual offense;
  • Attempted rape or sexual offense;
  • False imprisonment;
  • Stalking; or
  • Revenge porn.

 

Are Protective Order records open to the public?

In Maryland, most court records are open to the public. Records of Protective Order proceedings are included among the types of records that are open to the public.

The entry of a Protective Order can cause serious collateral consequences for the Respondent, such as difficulties in seeking employment or obtaining a lease. However, Maryland law allows records of Protective Order proceedings to be shielded in certain circumstances.

 

What is a court record?

The court record of a Protective Order proceeding can include an index, docket entry, petition, memorandum, transcript, electric recording, judgment, and any electronic information about the proceeding on the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website.

 

What is shielding?

Shielding means that the records are removed from public inspection. Shielding of the court records of a Protective Order proceeding does not destroy or erase the records. Shielding does not remove information about the proceeding from the Domestic Violence Central Repository.

For physical records kept in a courthouse, shielding means moving those records to a separate secure area that can only be accessed by someone who has a legitimate reason to access the records.

For electronic records, shielding completely removes all information about the Protective Order proceeding from the Case Search website. This includes the case number, parties’ names, any reference to the Protective Order proceeding, and any reference to the removal of the Protective Order proceeding from the Case Search website.

 

Who can access a shielded record of a Protective Order proceeding?

For a legitimate reason, a law enforcement officer, an attorney who represents or has represented the Petitioner or the Respondent, a State’s Attorney, an employee of a local Department of Social Services, or a victim services provider can access a shielded record.

Other persons may subpoena or file a motion for access to a shielded record. The court may grant access to a shielded record if the court finds that the requestor has a legitimate reason to access the record. In considering such a request, the court must balance the requestor’s need for access to the record with the parties’ right to privacy and the potential harm of unwarranted adverse consequences to the parties that may be created by the disclosure of the shielded record.

 

Who is eligible to shield a Protective Order?

Both the Petitioner and Respondent may file a request to shield the court records related to a Protective Order proceeding.

Records related to a Protective Order that was denied or dismissed at the interim, temporary, or final stage are eligible for shielding.

If the Respondent consented to the entry of the Protective Order, the records related to the proceeding are eligible for shielding.

If a Final Protective Order was entered after a contested hearing, records related to the Protective Order proceeding are not eligible for shielding.

 

When can I file a request to shield Protective Order records?

If the Protective Order was denied or dismissed, a request to shield can be filed 3 years after the denial or dismissal. The requestor can skip this 3-year waiting period if the requestor files a general waiver and release of all tort claims related to the proceeding.

If the Respondent consented to the entry of the Protective Order, a request to shield can be filed any time after the expiration of the Protective Order. If the request to shield was filed within 3 years of the consent to the entry of the Protective Order, the requestor must file a general waiver and release of all tort claims related to the proceeding.

 

What is the process when a request to shield is filed?

When a request to shield records of Protective Order proceedings is filed, the court will schedule a hearing on the request to shield and will give notice of the hearing to the other party or the other party’s attorney of record.

 

Flowchart: Shielding of denied or dismissed Protective Orders

The following flowchart explains the considerations that the court will apply to a request to shield the records related to a Protective Order that was denied or dismissed at the interim, temporary, or final stage.

denied-or-dismissed-protective-order-STSW

Flowchart: Shielding of Protective Orders entered by consent

The following flowchart explains the considerations that the court will apply to a request to shield the records related to a Protective Order that was entered by the Respondent’s consent.

protective-order-consent-shielding-STSWNavigating the court system can be a difficult and stressful process. If you are considering trying to shield records related to a Protective Order proceeding, we encourage you to speak to an experienced family law attorney at Silverman Thompson who can assist you in navigating the process from start to finish.

 

For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740.

 

Continue reading →

Published on:

What is a Peace Order?

By Maryland statute, a Peace Order is a court order that requires another person to stay away from you and to not contact you.  Do not confuse a Peace Order with a Protective Order. If you are related to the other person, have a sexual-type relationship with the other person, or are a victim of sexual assault, you should consider a Protective Order, not a Peace Order.  A Peace Order is for issues with a neighbor, co-worker, or stranger, etc. and is only applicable if you do not have a familial or intimate relationship with the other person.

Where do I file for a Peace Order in Maryland?

If you need to file for a Peace Order, visit the clerk’s office of your local District or Circuit Court, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.  If the District or Circuit Court is closed you may file for a Peace Order with your local District Court Commissioner. They are generally available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. You can locate your nearest District Court Commission on the Maryland Court’s website here: https://www.courts.state.md.us/district/directories/commissionermap  This site also has links to the Petition For Peace Order form  and the Peace Order Addendum form that the Court will require you to fill out.

Is there a deadline to file for a Peace Order?

Yes. You must file a Petition For Peace Order within 30 (thirty) days of the act or incident.  If you are not a resident of Maryland, then the act or incident must also have occurred in Maryland.

Why should I file for a Peace Order?

If you have experienced any of the following acts by another person (that you are not related to, and not in a sexual-type relationship with), you should consider filing a Petition For Peace Order:

  • An act that causes you serious bodily harm (punched, hit, kicked, choked, stabbed, etc.)
  • An act that places you in fear of imminent bodily harm (and you have taken it seriously)
  • Assault
  • False Imprisonment

In addition, if you have been subject to the criminal standard of the following acts, you should consider filing a Petition For Peace Order:

  • Rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Trespass
  • Malicious destruction of property
  • Misuse of telephone or electronic communication
  • Revenge porn

What do I need to prove to obtain a Final Peace Order in Maryland?

In order for the Court to grant you a Peace Order, you will need to prove two things to a Judge by a “preponderance of the evidence.” You need to prove that it is more likely than not that:

  • the other person committed the act within 30 days of filing the Petition and
  • that the other person is likely to commit an act again.

What can the Court grant in a Maryland Peace Order?

When you file your Petition for Peace Order, if a Commissioner or Judge finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the other party has committed the act you describe in your Petition, and is likely to commit an act again in the future, you will be granted an Interim Peace Order (from a Commissioner) or a  Temporary Peace Order (from a Judge). This Interim Peace Order or Temporary Peace Order is meant to provide you immediate relief until the Final Peace Order hearing where both you and the other person will have the opportunity to testify and provide evidence to the Judge. The Interim Peace Order generally lasts for 2 (two) days, the Temporary Peace Order generally lasts for 1 (one) week, and the Final Peace Order can last for up to 6 (six) months, but can be extended for up to an additional 6 (six) months.

 When an Interim Peace Order or Temporary Peace Order is granted, the Court can order:

  • the other person to not commit an act against you;
  • the other person to not threaten or harass you;
  • the other person to have no contact with you; and
  • the other person to stay away from your home, work, child care, or school.

When a Final Peace Order is granted, the Court can order:

  • the other person to not commit an act against you;
  • the other person to not threaten or harass you;
  • the other person to have no contact with you;
  • the other person to stay away from your home, work, child care, or school;
  • direct the other person or you to participate in professional counseling, or mediation if both you and the other person agree; and
  • the other person to pay your filing fees and court costs.

If you or someone you know is in need of a Peace Order, we encourage you to speak to an experienced family attorney at Silverman Thompson who can help you decide the right choice that is specific to your circumstance.

For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740.

 

Continue reading →

Published on:

What is a Protective Order?

By Maryland statute, a Protective Order is a court order that says one person must refrain from doing certain acts against another person. While not legally accurate, many people commonly refer to a Protective Order as a Retaining Order or Ex-Parte.

Who can obtain a Protective Order in Maryland?

In order for the Court to grant you a Protective Order, you must testify before a Judge that you have a certain type of relationship with the person you want to be protected from.

The following relationships qualify for a Protective Order in the State of Maryland:

  • are married, divorced, or currently separated;
  • are related by marriage, blood or adoption (this includes stepparents and stepchildren if they have lived with you for at least 90 days in the past year);
  • have lived together in a sexual relationship for at least 90 days in the past year;
  • are the parents of a child together;
  • have had a sexual relationship with each other in the past year;
  • are a vulnerable adult;
  • were raped or sexually assaulted by the other person (including attempts) in the past six months.

Where do I file for a Protective Order in Maryland?

If you need to file for a Protective Order, visit the clerk’s office of your local District or Circuit Court, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.  If the District or Circuit Court is closed you may file for a Protective Order with your local District Court Commissioner. They are generally available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. You can locate your nearest District Court Commission on the Maryland Court’s website here: https://www.courts.state.md.us/district/directories/commissionermap  This site also has links to the Petition For Protective form that the Court will require you to fill out.

Why should I file for a Protective Order?

 If you have been abused by being placed in fear of serious imminent bodily harm (threats of bodily harm that you have taken seriously), been subject to an act that causes serious bodily harm (punching, hitting, kicking, choking, stabbed, shot, etc.), assaulted, attempted rape or sexual assault,  raped or sexually assaulted, falsely imprisoned, stalked (criminal standard), subjected to revenge porn or your child has been subjected to mental injury, the Maryland Courts have a process to help protect you from further abuse. If you are being victimized by someone you have an intimate or familial relationship with, you should file a Petition for Protection from Abuse (the document you will fill out to try to obtain a Protective Order).  It is important to note a Protective Order MAY NOT be obtained based on harassment. If you are being harassed you may qualify for a Peace Order, but not a Protective Order.

What do I need to prove to obtain a Final Protective Order in Maryland?

In order for the Court to grant you a Protective Order, you will need to prove two things to a Judge. First, you will need to prove that you and the person you want to be protected from have a qualifying relationship, meaning that you are eligible to receive assistance (also called “relief”) from the Court. Second, you will need to prove that the person committed harmful acts  and abuse against you.  You must prove these two things to the Judge by a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that it is more likely than not that you are a person eligible for assistance and that the person committed harmful acts/abuse against you.

What can the Court grant in a Maryland Protective Order?

When you file your Petition for Protection, if a Judge finds that you are a person eligible for relief, you will be granted a Temporary Protective Order. This Temporary Protective Order is meant to provide you immediate relief until the Final Protective Order hearing where both you and the other person will have the opportunity to testify and provide evidence to the Judge. The Temporary Protective Order generally lasts for one week and the Final Protective Order can last for up to one year.

 When a Temporary Protective Order is granted, the Court can order:

  • the other person to stop abusing, threatening, or harassing you;
  • the other person to have no contact with you;
  • the other person to stay away from your home, work, child care, or school;
  • the other person to leave your home (if you are married OR if your name is on the lease or deed);
  • if applicable, address temporary child custody, possession of a pet, safeguards at child-care providers, and possession of firearms.

When a Final Protective Order is granted, the Court can order:

  • the other person to stop abusing, threatening, or harassing you;
  • the other person to have no contact with you;
  • the other person to stay away from your home, work, or school;
  • the other person to leave your home and award use and possession of the home (if you are married OR if your name is on the lease or deed);
  • if applicable, surrender of possession of a pet and possession of firearms;
  • if applicable, use and possession of a jointly owned vehicle (your name must be on the title);
  • if applicable, counseling for domestic violence or substance abuse;
  • if applicable, custody of children in common and a temporary child access or visitation schedule;
  • if applicable, emergency family maintenance or financial support; and
  • any other relief that a judge determines may be necessary to protect you from abuse.

If you or someone you know is in need of a Protective Order, we encourage you to speak to an experienced family attorney at Silverman Thompson who can help you decide the right choice that is specific to your circumstance. For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740. 

 

Monica L. Scherer, Esq. 

mscherer@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

  

Joseph S. Stephan, Esq. 

jstephan@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

  

Erin D. Brooks, Esq. 

ebrooks@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

 

Continue reading →

Published on:

It is important to be aware that Maryland Courts and Orders recognize two parts to custody in the State of Maryland, physical custody and legal custody.

What does Physical Custody mean in Maryland?

If you have physical custody of your child, it means that you have the right and obligation to provide a home for your child at given times, and to make the day-to-day decisions required during the time your child is actually with you. In Maryland, physical custody can be primarily with one parent and your child visits the other parent or shared between the parents.

What does Legal Custody mean in Maryland ?

If you have legal custody of your child, it means that you have the right and obligation to make long range decisions involving education, religious training, discipline, medical care, and other matters of major significance concerning the life and welfare of your child. It is important to understand that legal custody has nothing to do with where your child lives. In Maryland, legal custody can be sole, joint, or joint with tiebreaker.  Sole legal custody means one parent makes these decisions without the need to have the input of the other parent.  Joint legal custody means both parents work together to make agreed upon decisions for their child. Joint custody with tiebreaker requires both parents to work towards an agreed upon decision on the issue(s). However, if an agreement cannot be reached after trying to do so in good-faith, the parent with  tiebreaking authority makes the final decision on the issue.

How do Maryland Courts decide custody?

Courts in Maryland resolve custody and visitation disputes between parents based upon a determination of what is in the “best interests” of the child. You should understand that this determination may be different from what might be in your or the other parent’s best interests. A Judge will make this determination after considering the testimony and evidence you and the other parent present during your case. There are a host of standard factors a Judge will consider, but a Judge also takes into consideration the special circumstances of each case provided the evidence is presented. It is important to understand the importance and potential complexity of this determination as it is done on a case-by-case basis.

How can I modify a Custody Order in Maryland?

In order to modify a Custody Order, you must first prove to a Judge that something significant has happened since the initial Order was entered by the Judge. This ‘something significant’ is referred to as a “material change in circumstance.”  A material change is not that you were unhappy with the Court’s initial decision. You must also prove that the change you are asking for is in the best interest of your child. It is important to understand the importance and potential complexity of proving that you have met this standard.

Do I need a Court Order in Maryland?

When a child is born or adopted to two parents, Maryland Courts automatically and informally recognize these parents as having the same rights and obligations to their child. There is no inherent determination of physical or legal custody upon birth of a child. If you and your child’s other parent are dealing with issues such that you need assistance in determining where your child lives, who makes decisions for your child, when the child is with each parent for the holidays, how much time each parent has for vacations and the summer months, etc. a Court Order will be beneficial. A Court Order can help define the rights and responsibilities of each parent and, if applicable, determine the amount of child support that one parent may need to pay to the other in support of the child. It is important to understand the importance and potential complexity of asking the Court to enter a Custody Order.

What is a Parenting Plan?

A Parenting Plan is a document that defines the specific roles and responsibilities for each parent as they communicate with each other and care for their child or children. The Maryland Courts have created a Parenting Plan, with instructions, to help Maryland families. The Parenting Plan and instructions can be found on the Court’s website here. Currently, Maryland Courts require parents to complete a Parenting Plan during the court process. It is important to understand the importance and potential complexity of completing a Parenting Plan.

 

If you or someone you know needs an attorney for custody matters, we encourage you to speak to an experienced family attorney at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, LLC who can help you decide the right choice that is specific to your circumstance. For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740. 

 

 

Monica L. Scherer, Esq. 

mscherer@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

  

Joseph S. Stephan, Esq. 

jstephan@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

  

Erin D. Brooks, Esq. 

ebrooks@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading →

Published on:

The COVID-19 pandemic has swept the nation, causing uncertainty in its wake. While many essential businesses and government offices have shut down, the Maryland courts have been diligent in figuring out how certain matters can still be heard. While the Maryland courts may be restricted, many are still conducting uncontested divorce hearings at this time. If you and your spouse have an uncontested case that is ripe for testimony, the following courts are accepting new filings and may be able to hear your case now:

Circuit Court for Baltimore County: The Circuit Court for Baltimore County is now conducting remote uncontested divorce hearings as long as two attorneys are involved.

Circuit Court for Kent County: Beginning the week of May 5, 2020, the Circuit Court for Kent County is slated to conduct remote uncontested divorce hearings that are ripe.

Circuit Court for Somerset County: The Circuit Court for Somerset County is now conducting remote uncontested divorce hearings as long as two attorneys are present. The court is also accepting new filings for uncontested divorce hearings as long as it is filed through the MDEC filing system.

Circuit Court for Washington County: The Circuit Court for Washington County is conducting remote uncontested divorce hearings at this time. The court is also accepting new filings for uncontested divorce hearings.

Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County: The Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County is now conducting remote uncontested divorce hearings. The court will also be accepting new filings for uncontested divorce hearings.

Circuit Court for Charles County: The Circuit Court for Charles County is now conducting remote uncontested divorce hearings via Court call as well as skype. The court will also be accepting new filings for uncontested divorce hearings through the MDEC filing system.

Circuit Court for Howard County: The Circuit Court for Howard County is now conducting remote uncontested divorce hearings. The court will also be accepting new filings for uncontested divorce hearings.

Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County: The Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County is now conducting remote uncontested divorce hearings. The court will also be accepting new filings for uncontested divorce hearings.

Circuit Court for Worcester County: The Circuit Court for Worcester County is now conducting remote uncontested divorce hearings. The court is also accepting new filings for uncontested divorce hearings.

Circuit Court for Calvert County: The Circuit Court for Calvert County is now conducting remote uncontested divorce hearings. The court will also be accepting new filings for uncontested divorce hearings.

Circuit Court for Frederick County: The Circuit Court for Frederick County is now conducting uncontested divorce hearings on a limited basis of two days per week via telephone, however the court requests that a line be submitted first. The court is still accepting new filings for uncontested divorce hearings through the MDEC filing system.

Circuit Court for Montgomery County: The Circuit Court for Montgomery County has started to schedule remote uncontested divorce hearing dates for matters that have already been set.

Circuit Court for Cecil County: The Circuit Court for Cecil County is conducting remote uncontested divorce hearings for matters that have already been set.

Circuit Court for Talbot County: The Circuit Court for Talbot County is conducting remote uncontested divorce hearings.

The Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s County, and Alleghany Counties are not hearing remote uncontested divorce matters at the present time.

If you or someone you know need guidance while going through a divorce, we encourage you to reach out to an experienced family attorney at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, LLC who can help you navigate your options

For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740. 

 

 

Monica L. Scherer, Esq. 

mscherer@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

  

Joseph S. Stephan, Esq. 

jstephan@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

  

Erin D. Brooks, Esq. 

ebrooks@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

 

Continue reading →

Published on:

What is an Absolute Divorce?

The effect of Maryland’s absolute divorce is parallel to a traditional divorce; it is the final termination of the marriage. In an absolute divorce, custody, visitation, and child support terms between both parties are set, both parties are granted the right to live separately and apart, a legal name change may be granted (the resumption of a former name), and even remarry if they choose. An absolute divorce also allows the court to decide on matters regarding alimony and marital property, including any division of assets, transfer of retirement interests, and any other equitable distribution of real property, personal property and pension/retirement assets acquired during the course of the marriage. Ultimately, both parties are granted the right to sever all legal and financial ties from one another.

What are the grounds for divorce in Maryland?

In Maryland, the court may grant an absolute divorce on the grounds of:
(1) Adultery;
(2) Desertion, if it has continued for 12 months without interruption before filing for an Absolute Divorce; and the desertion was deliberate and final; and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation;
(3) Conviction of a felony or misdemeanor in any state or in any court of the United States if before the filing of the application for divorce the defendant was sentenced to serve at least three years or an intermediate sentence in a penal institution and served twelve months of that sentence;
(4) A twelve-month separation where the parties lived separate and apart without cohabitation for twelve uninterrupted months before the filing of the application for divorce;
(5) Insanity if the insane spouse has been confined in a mental institution, hospital, or other similar institution for at least three years before the filing of the application for divorce; the court must then determine from the testimony of at least two physicians who are competent in psychiatry that the insanity is incurable and that there is no hope of recovery; and one of the parties has remained a resident of this state for at least two years prior to the filing of the application for divorce;
(6) Cruelty of treatment toward the complaining party or a minor child of the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation;
(7) Excessively vicious conduct toward the complaining party or a minor child of the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation;
(8) Mutual consent so long as the parties execute and submit to the court a written settlement agreement signed by both parties that resolves all issues arising from the marital relationship (child custody, visitation, support, alimony and distribution of real and personal property, and asset division), neither party has filed a pleading to set aside the settlement agreement prior to the divorce hearing required under the Maryland Rules, and both parties appear before the court at the absolute divorce hearing.

Can I file for divorce if I have not been separated for one year?

While a 12-month statutory “no fault” ground remains a common way to receive an absolute divorce in Maryland, a party may be eligible to be granted an absolute divorce on fault based grounds requiring no period of separation if one can prove adultery, cruelty of treatment, excessively vicious conduct or have grounds for mutual consent.

What can I do if I do not have grounds to file for an Absolute Divorce?

A party may file for a Limited Divorce on the following grounds:
(1) Cruelty of treatment of the complaining party or of a minor child of the complaining party;
(2) Excessively vicious conduct to the complaining party or to a minor child of the complaining party;
(3) Desertion; or
(4) Separation, if the parties are living separate and apart without cohabitation

What is a Limited Divorce?

In Maryland, a limited divorce is not a final divorce. It does not terminate a marriage in its entirety. A limited divorce does not allow a spouse to remarry or to move forward in another relationship. A limited divorce is typically recommended in cases where division of marital property, spousal support, child custody, or child support are disputed and relief is sought by either party. Essentially, a limited divorce allows a party who has not yet met the grounds for an absolute divorce to obtain necessary relief from the court for custody, visitation, child support, use and possession of family home, family use personal property and family vehicle (when minor children are involved) in advance of a twelve-month separation.

What if the difference between a Limited Divorce and an Absolute Divorce?

The State of Maryland recognizes two types of divorce, an absolute divorce and a limited divorce.
An absolute divorce is the final termination of the marriage where custody and visitation terms for minor children are set, both parties are granted the right to live separately and apart, legally change their names, divide marital property, seek spousal support, and even remarry if they choose. In some cases, a physical separation of more than 12 months in different homes is not necessarily required before the filing for an absolute divorce if a party can prove adultery, cruelty of treatment, excessively vicious conduct or have grounds for mutual consent.

However, there are a number of scenarios where spouses may not be eligible to obtain an absolute divorce. Where a fault based divorce cannot be proven, a 12-month separation has not yet accrued, and the parties cannot mutually consent to a settlement agreement and some relief from the court in the interim is necessary, a limited divorce is then an option.

A limited divorce differs from an absolute divorce in that it is not a final divorce. A limited divorce does not allow a spouse to remarry. Furthermore, marital property acquired by each party even after a limited divorce is awarded remains a part of divisible marital property. The court is required to value all marital property only at the time of absolute divorce. Filing for a limited divorce will allow the court to decide on matters regarding child custody, child support, and spousal support.

If the parties later satisfy the grounds for an absolute divorce while the action for limited divorce is still pending in the court, the complaint for limited divorce can be amended to include a request for absolute divorce. Simply put, when an absolute divorce issue is not yet ripe, a limited divorce proceeding can allow a party to obtain certain relief from the court.

What can a Court award in a Limited Divorce?

Generally, in a limited divorce proceeding, the court can determine child custody and visitation, when children are involved the use and possession of family home, vehicle, household furnishings, child support, temporary alimony, and can award attorney fees.

What can a Court award in an Absolute Divorce?

Generally, in an absolute divorce proceeding, the court can change a spouse’s name back to any former name, award custody, decide visitation, determine the amount of child support and alimony to be paid, grant a monetary award, when children are involved decide the use and possession of family home, vehicle, household furnishings, award attorney and expert fees and costs, order certain jointly titled assets to be sold, divide or order the sale of household furnishings, and order the division of pension and retirement accounts.

How long does it take to get an uncontested divorced in Maryland?

It varies in each county, however if you already have a complete Marital Settlement Agreement signed by both parties and the proceeding is uncontested, typically between 3 – 6 months.

How long does it take to get divorced in Maryland?

It varies by county, however if your matter is contested and all issues are not resolved by a signed Marital Settlement Agreement, you can expect your contested divorce to take anywhere from 1-2 years.

 

If you or someone you know is considering divorce, we encourage you to speak to an experienced family attorney at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, LLC who can help you decide the right choice that is specific to your circumstance.

For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740. 

 

 

Monica L. Scherer, Esq. 

mscherer@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

  

Joseph S. Stephan, Esq. 

jstephan@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

  

Erin D. Brooks, Esq. 

ebrooks@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

 

 

 

Continue reading →

Published on:

Some parents are facing difficult decisions during this COVID-19 pandemic, including whether their children should be physically near a parent that is working with the public. For some families, it means that one parent temporarily lives in another part of the house. A related CNN article can be found here.  For other families, it means one parent temporarily lives in another place altogether. A related ABC article can be found here.

But, for co-parents that live in separate households, the thought of children being near a parent that is a first responder, a front-line worker, or an essential employee can lead to even more difficult decisions. The guidance from the Maryland Judiciary is clear:

All court orders for a child’s custody, parenting time, and child support are still in effect. In some situations, if permitted under the court order, custodians can jointly adjust their shared parenting responsibilities in ways that they agree are best for the children. If custodians are not able to agree, the court order controls.

When one parent refuses to allow the other parent to spend time with their children, often the refusing parent could be faced with a Petition for Contempt for not following a court order. The ramifications from a finding of contempt can be far-reaching and can include civil and/or criminal repercussions.

Pursuing or defending allegations of contempt should not be taken lightly and is a serious matter. If you dealing with this type of situation and need guidance, reach out to an experienced family attorney at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, LLC for assistance.

For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740. 

 

 

Monica L. Scherer, Esq. 

mscherer@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

  

Joseph S. Stephan, Esq. 

jstephan@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

  

Erin D. Brooks, Esq. 

ebrooks@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

 

  Continue reading →

Published on:

The spread of COVID-19 has stressed many family dynamics on a daily basis. Kitchen tables are now elementary school classrooms and backyards now host recess. With Maryland’s Stay-At-Home Order still in place, children and parents are finding themselves working through finding a new normal.

Parents that share time with their children between different households face an even larger set of challenges. Court orders that define parenting time, holiday schedules, and other child-focused decisions often do not help guide parents through questions like: “What happens in a global, viral pandemic?”.

With the seeming constant change to regulations and recommendations, the best recommendation is flexibility, while understanding your Order remains in place absent an agreement to deviate. Communicate with your children and your co-parent to make the best decision possible for your children and your collective family. Each day may bring new challenges and it is important that co-parents do their best to communicate about those challenges and remain open and flexible to the resolutions. Family flexibility is the new normal.

The Maryland Judiciary offers family services that can help co-parents work through decision making, including parenting plans and mediation services. Parenting Plan details are available here.

Another source of guidance may be working with a parenting coordinator.  If you do not have a current Order for a parent coordinator, and both parents agree to try this route, the Court is still processing Consent Orders.  During this period of social distancing and the Stay-At-Home Orders, mediation and parent coordination services are taking place via telephone and video conferencing and  is an effective way to gain assistance from a professional.

If you need help navigating the new normal, please reach out to an experienced family attorney. For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740.

Monica L. Scherer, Esq. 

mscherer@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

  

Joseph S. Stephan, Esq. 

jstephan@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

  

Erin D. Brooks, Esq. 

ebrooks@silvermanthompson.com 

(410) 385-2225 

 

Continue reading →

Contact Information