Annapolis Divorce Lawyer

Fighting to protect you during an emotional and difficult time.

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Divorce Attorney in Annapolis

As everyone knows, a divorce is the legal termination of a marriage. Divorce 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 years or decades. Regardless of the reason, it’s always painful when something to which you have devoted so much time and energy ends. An Annapolis Divorce Lawyer will help you get through this hard process.  

A divorce 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 pay alimony.

Maryland has two kinds of divorces. They are:

  • Absolute divorce
  • Limited divorce

Do not try to represent yourself.

A party that attempts to represent himself or herself, without an Annapolis Divorce Lawyer, 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 an attorney. He or she may later hire an attorney and spend years and substantial attorney fees attempting to undo the damage that was done by failing to have an attorney from the beginning.

Having an experienced Annapolis Divorce Lawyer from the start is extremely important. Only an attorney has the necessary understanding of the law and the court process. An 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.

Patrick is not like other divorce attorneys. Patrick has a boutique legal practice 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 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, custody, child support, or attorney fees. The parties may also dispute the grounds for divorce, especially if the grounds allege misconduct. If any issue is in dispute, the 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 divorce 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 forms necessary for the divorce to proceed quickly. In these situations, an attorney’s function is limited, but an Annapolis divorce lawyer can still be extremely helpful by ensuring that his client understand his or her rights, by guiding his client through the process, and by 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 Annapolis Divorce Lawyer 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 attorneys
  • 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, 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. The grounds for an absolute divorce include the following:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion for 12-months
  • Conviction of a felony or serious misdemeanor
  • Insanity
  • Cruelty of treatment
  • Excessively vicious conduct
  • Separation for 12-months
  • Mutual consent accompanied by a written agreement

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 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. Examples of grounds for annulment include:

  • Intoxication as a result of drugs or alcohol
  • Duress, meaning one party was led into the marriage by force.
  • Fraud, meaning one party was fundamentally deceived into the marriage.
  • Impotence, meaning one party was unable to have sex.
  • Consanguinity, meaning the parties are close blood relatives.
  • Bigamy, meaning one party was still married to someone else.
  • Underage, meaning one spouse was under the age of 18.

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

Discovery

In divorce case, 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.

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 attorney fees. Often a party has an immediate need for attorney 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 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 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 attorney.
  • Whether the other party has the ability to pay.

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. An experienced Annapolis Divorce Lawyer is usually necessary in order to make such a case.

Contact Patrick Crawford today.

Patrick 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 and work tirelessly to secure a bright post-divorce future for you and your family. Contact him today.

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