Divorce Lawyer in Columbia, MD

divorce lawyer columbia mdDivorce doesn’t have to be messy and spiteful – with the help of an attorney, your separation will proceed smoothly and respectfully. An experienced lawyer will provide you with a sense of security in knowing that your best interests are spoken for.

Coover Law Firm, LLC is an established practice with more than 35 years of experience in family law matters, including divorce and divorce-related issues like child support. Don’t settle for inexperience in this difficult time; trust our firm to deliver the best result for you and your child.

Mr. Coover is a knowledgeable, compassionate, and communicative attorney. Call (410) 553-5042 to learn more about his approach.

Different Types of Divorce

The Maryland Court system recognizes two types of divorce: absolute and limited divorce. Filing processes are similar, but there are several critical differences. 

A Howard County divorce lawyer like Mr. Coover will help you decide which type is ideal for your circumstances.

Absolute Divorce in Columbia, MD

This type of divorce permanently ends a marriage. Property claims are terminated, and divorcees are allowed to remarry.

When filing for an absolute divorce, you and your attorney will prove that there are grounds, or reasons to do so. Grounds for divorce are crucial. Because marriage is considered a civil contract between two people, you can’t just divorce at the drop of a hat with no thought put into the arrangement. You must have a legal basis for the Judge to grant your divorce.

There are several bases for absolute divorce in Maryland, all but two of which are considered “fault”  grounds (we’ll go into more detail later):

  • Mutual consent (available for couples with or without minor children)
  • One-year separation
  • Adultery (infidelity)
  • Cruelty
  • Desertion
  • Excessively vicious conduct
  • Conviction of a felony or misdemeanor (with incarceration)
  • Insanity

The most common, and the only “no-fault” ground for absolute divorce, is a one-year separation, in which the parties must prove that they’ve lived “separate and apart” for at least one year. Maryland courts are notorious for their strict interpretation of what constitutes “separate and apart.” Often, Judges deny requests for absolute divorce even if the spouses sleep in separate rooms. 

The best way to ensure a smooth and viable divorce is to hire an experienced divorce attorney in Columbia, MD. 

Limited Divorce in Columbia, MD

This type of divorce does not end the marriage. Instead, the spouses remain legally married while living separately and apart. Many people find limited divorce to be advantageous, as it allows them to settle differences before filing for absolute divorce. 

For instance, separated spouses often disagree on many things, an issue that can be exacerbated when they live in the same house.

A limited divorce gives couples the space and clarity of mind to make well-informed, rational decisions with their attorney’s help. These are the grounds for limited divorce in Maryland:

  • Separation of the spouses, no longer living in the same residence or under the same roof overnight and no longer having sexual relations
  • Cruel treatment of a spouse or a minor child
  • Excessively vicious conduct toward you or your minor child
  • Desertion

These difficult circumstances often leave spouses unable to make rational or fair decisions on their own. For the fairest and most equitable outcome in your divorce, enlist the help of a knowledgeable attorney at Coover Law Firm, LLC. 

Legal Separation in Columbia, MD

The word “separation” is often used interchangeably with “divorce,” but they are not the same thing.

Maryland Courts do not grant legal separations because legal separation is a ground (reason) for divorce, not the divorce itself. People often consider a legal separation as similar to a limited divorce: spouses may live in separate homes but share income.

Divorce terminology is confusing – “separate and apart,” “limited divorce,” and countless other phrases often cause frustration and tension between parties trying to decide which option is best for them. A divorce lawyer in Columbia, MD can help remove the confusion and obtain a favorable outcome in your case. 

Call Coover Law Firm at (410) 553-5042 today to discuss setting up a consultation.

Grounds for No-Fault Divorce

Just as there are different types of divorce, there are different grounds for divorce in Maryland: no-fault and at-fault grounds. As you can imagine, a no-fault divorce is one in which the spouses simply cannot get along or no longer enjoy their time together – what is known in the legal world as “irreconcilable differences.”

Irreconcilable differences is no longer an option for divorce in Maryland, but thanks to the passage of a 2015 law, couples can obtain a no-fault divorce through one of two means: one-year separation or mutual consent.

Grounds for No-Fault Absolute Divorce: One-Year Separation

Before filing for divorce, spouses must live separate and apart without cohabitation (living in the same house or apartment and/or having sexual relations) for at least 12 uninterrupted months. If one spouse stays in the other’s house, or if the spouses have sexual relations during this time, the 12-month separation requirement starts over.

Grounds for No-Fault Absolute Divorce: Mutual Consent

In Maryland, couples with or without minor children may file for a no-fault absolute divorce on the basis of mutual consent. This is a good option for many couples, as they are allowed to waive the 12-month separation period.

Spouses with minor children can obtain an absolute divorce if and only if they submit a written agreement which they both sign that resolves the following issues:

Once the court reviews the documents and ensures that the agreement is in the child’s best interest, the couple will be granted an absolute divorce.

Grounds for At-Fault Divorce

Some marriages end due to one spouse’s harmful actions. A spouse can request an “at-fault” divorce if they can prove to the court that the other spouse engaged in misconduct that harmed the marriage.

The difference is crucial between at-fault and no-fault divorce: an at-fault divorce may play a role in determining the other spouse’s right to alimony and how the court divides the marital property

Also, the court may refuse custody to the spouse who is found to be at fault if their misconduct is harmful to the child.

These are the grounds for an at-fault divorce in Maryland:

Adultery (infidelity)

To prove your spouse’s infidelity in court, you don’t need to show that actual intercourse occurred. You must, however, prove that your spouse had both the disposition and opportunity to engage in intercourse outside the marriage. 

There is no waiting period for an at-fault divorce based on adultery. If the court finds that the offending spouse was adulterous, divorce can be issued immediately.

Cruelty or Excessively Vicious Conduct

You can file for an at-fault divorce on grounds of cruelty if your spouse’s conduct is found to have endangered your life or your child’s life, making it unsafe to live together. 

Physical and/or mental abuse is often involved. You must show that your spouse planned to seriously impair or permanently destroy your or your child’s happiness through their abusive actions.

It’s important to note that marital neglect, rudeness, and profanity do not constitute cruelty. The spouse’s conduct must be found to have endangered the life of the other spouse and/or child, making it impossible to remain in the marriage.

Another important note: a single act of cruelty can be enough to meet the grounds of divorce if you can demonstrate that your spouse intended to inflict serious bodily harm or is judged to be a serious danger in the future.

Desertion

It’s common and even understandable for one spouse to temporarily leave their house to avoid arguing and making the situation worse. However, if the spouse leaves and doesn’t return for a certain amount of time, the other spouse can file for divorce on grounds of desertion.

Desertion is an interesting concept, as there are actually two types: actual and constructive. Actual desertion occurs when one spouse decides to leave the home or banishes the other spouse from the home without justifiable cause.

Constructive desertion occurs when one spouse mistreats the other, causing the mistreated spouse to leave. In these cases, the spouse that mistreats the other is considered the deserter. The central issue in constructive desertion is determining whether the conduct was so intolerable that the spouse who left was justified in their decision.

Conviction of a Felony or Misdemeanor

You’ll have to prove several things if you want to obtain a divorce due to your spouse’s conviction. You and your divorce lawyer in Columbia, MD will prove that your spouse was convicted of a crime in any state, that they received a jail sentence of over three years or indeterminate length, and that they’ve served 12 months of their sentence at the time of filing.

Insanity

You can’t just claim that your spouse is insane in order to obtain a divorce on grounds of insanity. You must prove that your spouse has permanent and incurable insanity, which usually means they’ve been confined in a mental institution for at least three years. 

You and your attorney will also need to provide testimony from at least two different doctors regarding your spouse’s condition.

For a Smooth Divorce, Call Coover Law Firm

Facing divorce in Columbia, Maryland? Coover Law Firm will provide the advice and representation you need to protect your legal rights and work towards a favorable outcome for you and your family. Call our firm today to get started, and be sure to check out our resources for all of your divorce questions.