Family Law: Answers To Frequently Asked Questions
At Wampler & Souder, LLC, we value family and understand the importance of your case to your well-being. Our attorneys have decades of experience guiding Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., families through divorce and related concerns, and we are ready to help you.
Starting your case, the legal system can feel overwhelming. Our family law attorneys make sure that you have the information you need to make the right decisions for you and your family. Below, we provide answers to a few commonly asked questions about family law. However, we encourage you to contact our firm with all additional questions and concerns.
Call Wampler & Souder at 301-732-7675 to schedule a case consultation. We have offices located in Frederick, Silver Spring and Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Is alimony awarded in every Maryland divorce?
Spousal support payments are not awarded in every divorce, and there is no set standard of how much will be paid if it is awarded.
Family courts evaluate many factors to determine alimony payments such as the length of the marriage, age of each spouse, their education and standard of living. In most cases that alimony is awarded, it is only paid for a set period of time.
I can no longer afford my child support payments. Can I stop my payments?
You cannot stop your court-ordered child support payments without an official order modification. To request a change, you must file a written motion and submit it to the family law court that completed the original order.
You can only modify your existing order if your financial circumstances have materially changed since it was first written. There must be a compelling reason, such as a recent job loss, for the modification to be accepted.
As a grandparent, can I seek legal custody of my grandchildren?
Typically, the court awards custody rights to a child’s biological parents unless there is significant evidence that this is not in the child’s best interest. Drug abuse, alcoholism, abandonment and domestic violence may all be cited as reasons why the child’s parents cannot look after them at this time.
How are child custody arrangements determined in Maryland?
The court aims to do what is in the child’s best interests. They evaluate many factors to determine this, including, but not limited to, the following:
- The physical and mental health of each parent
- Who the primary care giver has been up until this time
- Each parent’s character
- Whether an arrangement will allow the child to maintain their family relationships
- The child’s preference (in some cases)
- Financial resources
- Age and health of the child
- History of domestic violence, drug abuse, alcoholism or abandonment
- Proximity to the child’s established school
Can my ex-spouse relocate to another residence with our child?
If the child’s other parent would like to relocate, they will either need your permission or an official court order. The moving spouse must provide the other parent and the family law court with written documentation of their intent to move at least 90 days ahead of their scheduled departure.
The letter of intent should include their new address, phone number (if it is changing) and why they would like to relocate. If you agree to the move, submit a written agreement to the court. If you do not agree to the move, you have 20 days to file a petition with the court to block the move. A judge will hear both sides of the argument in a hearing and determine what outcome is in the child’s best interests.
How is marital property divided in a Maryland divorce?
Maryland follows an “equitable distribution” system for dividing marital property during divorce. This allows the divorcing spouses (or the family law court) to determine a fair, if not necessarily equal, split in assets.
The court will evaluate how much each spouse contributed to the marriage, earning potential and the factors that led to the divorce to help them determine a fair split of assets.
What will happen to our family home in divorce?
Your family’s unique situation and preferences can impact what will happen to your house during divorce. The court may have you sell the house and split the proceeds, or a Maryland judge may transfer ownership to a single spouse.
If it is important to you to keep your house, tell your divorce attorney that it is a top priority for you. Keep in mind that it may be harder to afford your mortgage payments without the other spouse’s financial contributions.