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Annapolis Divorce Lawyer

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As everyone knows, a divorce is the legal termination of a marriage. The divorce process is almost always emotionally devastating for both parties. It may involve losing a spouse who one still loves or leaving a spouse from whom one has grown apart. It may involve losing the ability to raise children in the way that was planned. Above all, it involves breaking emotional ties and plans that had developed over the years or decades. Regardless of the reason, it’s always painful when something to which you have devoted so much time and energy ends. Our best Annapolis family law attorneys around your location will help you get through this hard process.

 

A divorce legal case can also be financially excruciating. It may require that a person suddenly become self-supporting. It usually requires that parties divide accounts, houses, and other assets. After the divorce is finished, both spouses may feel poorer because they each have a fraction of what they previously had. And in some cases, one spouse may be required to have child support, child custody, or pay spousal support.

Maryland has two kinds of divorces. They are:

  • Absolute divorce
  • Limited divorce
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Do not try to represent yourself. Seek Legal Help With Our Best Annapolis Divorce Law Office Near Your Area.

A party that attempts to represent himself or herself, without an Annapolis divorce attorney, in a divorce case is taking a huge risk. That party will likely make a less persuasive case and receive a less favorable outcome than otherwise. After the process is completed, an unrepresented party will likely wonder if a better outcome could have been obtained with legal representation. He or she may later hire divorce lawyers and spend years and substantial legal assistance fees attempting to undo the damage that was done by failing to have an attorney from the beginning.

Having one of the best Md divorce lawyers from the start is extremely important. Only a Crawford law firm near your location has the necessary understanding of the family law and the court process. The best divorce attorney will guide you through the process, advocate for you at every opportunity, and make a forceful case for you at trial if necessary. When the process ends, you will likely have peace of mind and a much better result.

Hire a skilled and aggressive attorney in Annapolis and surrounding areas.

Patrick is not like other divorce lawyers. Patrick has a boutique law office in which he provides high-quality service to a small number of clients. His practice is small, and that is how he likes it. He is the only divorce attorney in his office. Having a small practice allows Patrick to provide a highly personalized service in which he gets to know each client and delivers representation that is tailored to achieve that client’s unique goals. He has spent the last 14 years handling divorce cases. He has represented his clients in all stages of their cases, including settlement, trial, and appeal. He is aggressive while also being careful to avoid wasteful efforts and strategies that usually serve only to increase the client’s legal fees. Patrick directs his efforts in a focused and intelligent way on things that are most important to the client and that are calculated to bring results. He invites his clients to participate meaningfully in setting the case direction, he is friendly, and he is responsive.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is one in which the parties dispute any issue related to the divorce such as property division, alimony, child custody, child support, or attorney fees. The parties may also dispute the grounds for legal separation, especially if the grounds allege misconduct. If any issue is in dispute, the trial court treats the entire matter as contested, and it will require the case to follow a long process that provides an opportunity for discovery, motions, trial preparation, and trial.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested legal separation is one in which both parties agree on all details of the outcome. Usually, they have placed such detail into a signed written agreement. In extremely simple cases, they may have no such written agreement and they merely agree between themselves that neither will seek anything from the other. In addition, in order for a case to be uncontested, both parties must cooperate by submitting any divorce petition necessary for the divorce to proceed quickly according to family law. In these situations, a divorce lawyer’s function is limited, but an Annapolis family law firm nearby your location can still be extremely helpful by ensuring that his client understands his or her rights, guiding his client through the process, and ensuring that the process goes smoothly and quickly.

Divorce Settlement

In any divorce case, if the parties are able to settle, then they can avoid trial. A settlement means reaching an agreement with the other party on the outcome of the case so that the court does not have to decide the outcome. The court will encourage the parties to settle. If the parties settle, the court will abide by almost any agreement that the parties reach and will make their agreement part of the divorce decree. Your Maryland family law attorney will let you know which is the best scenario for you.

There are several ways to attempt to settle.

  • Negotiating privately between the parties
  • Negotiating between the divorce lawyers
  • Mediating with a neutral third party

Of course, the parties in a divorce case are not required to settle. If they do not settle, the court will hold a trial in which it will decide the outcome of the case.

Absolute Divorce

An absolute divorce is a real divorce. When the court grants an absolute divorce, the marriage is considered officially terminated according to Maryland law, and the parties are free to re-marry. In order to obtain an absolute divorce, a party must prove grounds. A party seeking a divorce must prove only one of the available grounds.

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The first six grounds are considered “fault grounds” because they require one party to prove that the other engaged in misconduct. The last two grounds are considered “no-fault grounds” because no evidence of misconduct is required.

Limited Divorce

In cases in which someone wants to file for divorce but does not have grounds for an absolute divorce, that person may request a limited divorce. A limited divorce does not result in the termination of the marriage, and parties who receive a limited divorce are not free to re-marry. In this sense, a limited divorce is not a real divorce. However, a limited divorce is useful because it allows the parties to address some of the divorce-related issues such as alimony, child support, and child custody while they are waiting for grounds for an absolute divorce to arise. In this way, the parties use the time so that when the grounds for absolute divorce arise, they may obtain their absolute divorce more quickly.

As with an absolute divorce, in order to obtain a limited divorce, a party must prove grounds. A party seeking a divorce must prove only one of the available grounds. Grounds for a limited divorce include the following:

  • Desertion
  • Cruelty of treatment
  • Excessively vicious conduct
  • Separation

Annulment

An annulment is similar to a divorce except it has one major difference. An annulment does not seek to terminate the marriage. An annulment seeks a decision that the marriage was never valid. As with a divorce, to obtain an annulment, a party must show grounds. Grounds for an annulment are rare. The grounds must have existed at the time of the marriage ceremony.

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In a case for annulment, the court may still address divorce-related issues such as division of property, alimony, spousal support, child custody, child support, and attorney fees.

Discovery

In divorce cases, both parties have the right to conduct discovery. Discovery is the process of compelling the other party to provide information that may help one’s case. Discovery can occur in several different ways, including interrogatories, requests for documents, and depositions. Discovery can also include obtaining documents from outside sources like employers and financial institutions. Discovery can sometimes uncover information that the other party is trying to hide. In any divorce case, discovery is extremely important because a lot of detailed information is required in order to make a persuasive case to the court. Seek the help of an experienced family law attorney to conduct discovery.

Annapolis Divorce Attorney Fees

In any divorce case, multiple opportunities exist for either party to request that the court order the other party to pay some or all of that party’s divorce attorney fees. Often a party has an immediate need for divorce lawyer fees and cannot wait until the end of a long case in order to receive it. In this case, the party may request pendente lite divorce attorney fees. Or the party may choose to make the request at the end of the case. In either situation, the court will decide whether it is fair to grant such a request based on multiple factors. The main factors include:

  • Whether the requesting party had a good-faith basis for pursuing his or her case.
  • Whether the requesting party needs assistance paying for his or her divorce attorney.
  • Whether the other party has the ability to pay.

How Do I File for Divorce?

 In order to obtain a divorce in Maryland, you will need to open your case by filing either a Complaint for Absolute Divorce or a Complaint for Limited Divorce (depending upon your intention) with the circuit court in the county where either you or your spouse lives. From here, your spouse will need to be served with the divorce papers (a copy of everything you filed with the court), and you’ll need to provide the court with proof of this service. If, however, you’ve been served with divorce papers by your spouse, you’ll need to respond with an Answer – and you may need to counter his or her filing with a Counter-Complaint. 

After service, the spouse who was served must respond according to the following time constraints:

  • If the responding spouse lives in the State of Maryland, he or she has 30 days to respond.
  • If the responding spouse lives in another state, he or she has 60 days to respond.
  • If the responding spouse lives outside the United States, he or she has 90 days to respond.

Other filings that may be necessary in the course of your divorce include:

  • A Civil Domestic Information Report
  • Financial forms, which may include a Joint Statement of the Parties Concerning Community and Nonmarital Property
  • A settlement agreement (if your absolute divorce is based on mutual consent)

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

It is impossible to say with any degree of certainty how much your divorce will cost from the outset. There are, however, certain factors that are indicative of more streamlined divorces and some factors that are indicative of more drawn-out and costly divorces.

You and Your Spouse Are in Agreement

If you and your divorcing spouse both agree that you need a divorce and are generally on the same page regarding the terms of your divorce, you can expect your divorce to proceed more swiftly and to incur much lower legal expenses along the way.

Your Divorce Is Fault-Based

Fault-based divorces are generally the costliest, the lengthiest, and the most contentious divorces. To begin, proving your spouse’s fault in the matter can be exceptionally challenging, and you can rely upon him or her to fight this allegation. Fault-based divorces tend to be heated from the start and generally become more so with time.

You and Your Spouse Are Hammering Out Terms for a Divorce Based on Mutual Consent

If you are proceeding with a divorce that is based on mutual consent but you and your divorcing spouse have one or more terms that need to be resolved, negotiating a mutually acceptable determination can require considerable legal guidance and the possibility of mediation. In such cases, the cost of divorce generally depends upon each spouse’s commitment to negotiating in good faith and each spouse’s ability to keep the divorce moving forward.

The divorce terms that every divorcing couple must resolve (as applicable) include:

  • Both physical custody (how you and your children’s other parent will divide your time with your shared children) and legal custody (who will be making the big-picture parenting decisions on behalf of your shared children)
  • Child support
  • The division of community property
  • Alimony

Custody and the division of community property are the terms that are most likely to become sticking points in the divorce process. Further, factors such as high assets, business ownership, and generally complicated financials often make the division of community property that much more challenging. 

Divorce Is Unpredictable

It is important to note that divorce is unpredictable. The fact is that tensions tend to run high, and the attendant emotions can prove overwhelming. This means that even some of the most placid divorces can – with the passage of time – morph into far more contentious cases. This element of unpredictability makes estimating how much your divorce is likely to cost a real challenge. Several steps you can take to help curb the degree of unpredictability in your divorce include:

  • Keep the lines of communication between yourself and your divorcing spouse open and communicate with him or her as openly as you can
  • Avoid your spouse’s trigger points to the degree possible
  • Choose a means of communication that works for both of you. If face-to-face communication or phone calls are too challenging, stick to electronic communication
  • Know when to say enough is enough (and allow your respective divorce lawyers to communicate on behalf of each of you as a result)
  • Know your divorce priorities and focus on them (simply going after whatever you can get isn’t an effective strategy)

Keeping your divorce on a steady path forward is an excellent goal, but you should not allow your parental or financial rights to be jeopardized in the process. Your dedicated divorce lawyer will help you keep the peace to the extent that it is possible to do so while also helping you to make the right decisions for you and your children along the way. 

How Long Does a Divorce Take?

The amount of time it will take for your divorce to be finalized is generally commensurate with the degree of difficulty involved. In other words, if you and your divorcing spouse are at complete odds on every term that requires your attention, you can expect your divorce to take considerably longer than if you were in complete agreement on every term. There is, however, a required one-year separation period for divorces based on mutual consent. If you’re able to find a middle ground regarding the applicable terms of divorce over the course of this year, you can expect your divorce to be resolved relatively quickly thereafter.

Washington Divorce Statistics

The most recent divorce statistics published by the Washington State Department of Health include:

  • There were 24,499 divorces throughout the state of Washington in 2016.
  • The number of divorces per 1,000 residents generally ranged from 3.9 to .8, but two counties – Lincoln and King – experienced much higher rates.
  • The age groups that experienced the highest divorce rates throughout the state include from 30 to 34, from 35 to 39, and from 40 to 44 (in that order). 
  • When considered in terms of the number of children involved in the divorce, those couples with no minor children ranked highest. From here came couples with two minor children, couples with one minor child, couples with three minor children, and couples with four or more minor children (in that order).

Washington is what is known as a no-fault divorce state, which means that fault on the part of either spouse is not factored into the divorce process. Instead, you’ll need to demonstrate that irreconcilable differences are involved (which basically means that you and your spouse are no longer able to get along with one another). 

In a Washington divorce, those assets that you and your spouse came to own during your marriage are classified as community property, and these will need to be distributed between the two of you in a manner that is considered equitable (or fair given the situation) upon divorce. Washington addresses the matter of child custody in terms of decision-making authority and the parenting plan (when your kids are with you and when they’re with their other parent. 

Divorce cases are complicated.

Divorce cases are complicated. An infinite number of things exist to consider in even a moderately complicated divorce case. Making a persuasive case in most divorce matters requires an enormous amount of work and organization. Experienced Annapolis Divorce Lawyers are usually necessary in order to make such a case.

Contact Our Best Lawyer Patrick Crawford today.

Our divorce attorney Patrick Crawford is ready and eager to provide you with aggressive and personalized representation, no matter how complex your divorce case is. He will discuss your goals with you with the best attorney client relationship and work tirelessly to secure a bright post-divorce future for you and your family. Annapolis divorce attorney near you, Contact him today.

Divorce Lawyer in Annapolis

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