We Answer Your Questions About Maryland Divorce
Knowledgeable Rockville divorce lawyer has the answers
After helping clients in the Montgomery County area for more than 25 years, the Law Offices of Ellen L. Lee is one of the most widely respected law firms in Rockville, MD. Below, we answer the questions we hear most often from clients and prospective clients:
- How long will my divorce take?
- How much will my divorce cost?
- Do I have to pay all of the attorney’s fees myself?
- What if my spouse is hiding money, income or assets?
- Will I lose everything to my spouse?
- If our largest asset is a business, who will get it?
- Will I have to pay alimony?
- Will an extramarital affair have an impact on my divorce?
- If I have joint custody, do I have to pay child support?
- How does a court determine who gets custody of a child?
- Will I have to pay for college?
- What is the effect of my divorce on my estate plan?
Act now to resolve your family law issue
If you have additional questions, or if you’re ready to schedule a consultation with one of the top divorce law firms in Rockville, MD., call the Law Offices of Ellen L. Lee today at 240-552-6957 or contact us online. Conveniently located two blocks from the Rockville Courthouse, our law office serves clients in Columbia, Frederick, Annapolis, Bethesda, Montgomery County and the rest of Maryland. We also have a satellite office in Bethesda.
A: The time frame for a divorce in Maryland can be difficult to predict. You should be cautious of any attorney who promises to complete a divorce in a certain period of time. Many factors affect the length of a divorce, such as:
- The degree to which you and your spouse agree on issues
- The cooperation between you and your spouse
- The court schedule in a particular county
In those rare cases when both spouses agree on every issue, a divorce can be completed in a few weeks. When the parties disagree on important issues such as custody, support or division of property, a divorce can take a year or more. If fraud or concealment of assets is involved, a divorce can take several years.
A: We take pride in the quality of our work and in our ability to keep our fees reasonable and competitive in the D.C. metro area. The cost of divorce is determined by the extent to which one or both parties choose to litigate, rather than negotiate. At the Law Offices of Ellen L. Lee, we do not operate a "volume" practice in which you are just another file. We provide experienced and aggressive representation, focusing on the individual needs of each client. As a result, we will be neither your least nor your most expensive option for a Maryland divorce attorney.
A: Under limited circumstances, courts permit fee-shifting in Maryland. In fee-shifting, the court will "shift" the payment of legal fees from one spouse to the other. This sometimes happens when one spouse is better able than the other spouse to afford the legal fees. For example, if you stayed home while your spouse pursued his or her career for the past 20 years, a court may order your spouse to pay some or all of your divorce attorney’s fees. We are sensitive to the financial disparities faced by many women in divorce and custody cases. For this reason, we work hard to maintain reasonable legal fees while providing the highest quality of legal representation.
A: We will work to uncover hidden money, income or assets using all means legally available, including sending subpoenas to employers, businesses, banks and close friends or relatives of a spouse. When appropriate, we will work with forensic accountants, private investigators and other professionals to help trace and locate the hidden assets.
A: No, you will not lose everything to your spouse. In determining division of property, the courts look at numerous factors, such as the earning power of each spouse, the length of the marriage, and the assets each spouse brought into the marriage. Maryland courts try to issue divorce decrees that are fair. Our attorney is skilled at preparing and presenting the evidence in a way that ensures that you will get your fair share.
A: When a business is a marital asset, we hire appraisers, valuation experts, accountants and other professionals to determine the true value of the business. You should not rely on your spouse's assertions about the value of the business. You need a valuation from a neutral professional.
A: It depends. Once we learn the facts of your situation, we can provide you with a better assessment of the alimony issue. Alimony is also referred to as spousal support or maintenance. To determine whether you will be ordered to pay alimony, Maryland courts consider such factors as:
- The income and property of each spouse
- The needs of each spouse
- The present and future earning capacity of the spouse seeking support
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The length of the marriage
A: The facts of the case will determine the extent to which an extramarital affair will affect the distribution of property. It is relevant, for example, whether marital assets were squandered on the affair. An affair also can affect the court’s decisions about child custody. When an affair is involved, we work diligently with our clients to make sure the child custody arrangements protect the child's physical and psychological well-being.
A: In most cases, the child ends up living with one parent. The parent with primary responsibility for the care of the child is entitled to child support. The minimum amount is set by the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. If you are the primary caretaker or custodial parent of a child, you are entitled to child support.
A: In deciding custody, Maryland law requires courts to focus on the best interests of the child and not the interests of the parents. Factors the court weighs to determine the best interests of the child include:
- The mental and physical health of the child
- The safety and stability of each spouse’s home and surroundings
- The willingness of each parent to encourage a close relationship between the child and the other parent
- The relative economic positions of the parents
- The wishes of the child
- The wishes of the parents
- The child’s relationship with parents, siblings and other significant people
- The child's adjustment to home, school and community
- Physical violence or threat of violence by a parent, whether directed at the child or someone else
- Abuse, whether directed at the child or someone else
A: Child support agreements often include expenses for higher education, and we believe they should.
A: The impact will vary widely depending on the type of estate plan you have. We encourage all of our clients to address this issue during or immediately following their divorce.