A divorce or separation is much more than two people parting ways, as there are often many other items that arose out of the marriage that must be resolved in order for parties to legally part ways. These items can be addressed in a separation agreement or are eventually resolved in divorce litigation. It is important to consider each of the following items at the beginning stages of pursuing a Maryland divorce:
• Child Custody – If you and your spouse have children, then custody of the children will need to be decided. Custody is comprised of two parts in Maryland, legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody involves decisions regarding the child involving health, education and religion. Physical custody is the time spent with each parent. Both forms of custody can be shared by parents, or awarded to only one parent. For more information see our September 10, 2010 blog.
• Child Access Schedule – Not only does custody of the children need to be decided but also when each parent will have access with the children. You need to consider the school year, summer vacation, holidays and school breaks. Also many parents designate how their children will communicate with the other parents when not in their care • Child Support-Child support is awarded in many cases to account for a difference in time sharing of the children, or a difference in income of the parties. For more information on child support, see our September 11, 2009 blog
• Dependency Exemption for Child(ren)- You need to consider who will designate the children for purposes of the tax dependency. Will you and your spouse alternate, each take one child, etc?
• Health Insurance – You need to consider who will cover the children on their health insurance. Also, if you are currently covered by your spouses insurance, or covering your spouse, will you continue to do so until your divorce is final?
• Uninsured Medical Expenses for Kids-Typically parties may divide this evenly or in proportion to their incomes. If one parent is bearing the whole expense, and it is significant, it will be used for child support calculations.
• Division of Marital Property – You should consider how all of the property accumulated during your marriage will be divided such as, furnishings, household items, electronics, collections, tools, equipment, cars, trucks, boats, ATV’s, RV’s etc.
• Retirement/Pension Accounts- All retirement accrued by either party during the marriage is marital and therefore your spouse has rights to it. You should consider how these accounts will be divided, if at all.
• Investment Accounts /Stock Options/Profit Sharing Plan – Like retirement accounts, all accounts opened during the marriage or monies invested during the marriage are marital and you should consider how they will be divided • Marital Home – You should decided if one party will stay in the home, and if so will there be a buy out, or will the home be sold? Additionally, were any pre-marital monies invested by either party that they are entitled to? Last, an understanding of how much the home is worth and how much equity is in the home will be helpful in these considerations.
• Any Other Real Property Issues-Are there any second homes that were purchased during the marriage? If so, who will retain the rights to these homes or will they be sold?
• Alimony- There are many factors considered in deciding whether alimony will be awarded in your matter. For more information visit our October 2, 2009 blog.
• Monetary Award- A monetaryl award can be awarded in a matter where the division of property by title is inequitable. The theory is that it balances the marital estate.
• Marital Debt- All debt accumulated during the marriage, by either party is martial and it must be decided who will be responsible for the debt.
Depending on your situation, there may be more areas to explore, however this list is a good starting point. For more information on Maryland divorce, contact an experienced Maryland divorce attorney.