Howard County, MD, Divorce & Family Lawyer

Family and domestic law often presents difficult and emotionally challenging issues to the parties involved, but the issues resolved in a divorce or other family law matter can affect family members for years to come. For these reasons, the advice and assistance of an experienced family and domestic law attorney is critical to protecting your rights and meeting your needs for the long-term. In Maryland, the Coover Law Firm in Columbia is here to assist you in all family law matters to achieve the resolution of your case as quickly and comfortably as possible.

Divorce and Legal Separation in Maryland

In a proceeding for separation or dissolution of marriage in Maryland, the parties must decide on important issues such as the division of marital property, the payment of spousal support or alimony, child custody and visitation, and the payment of child support. If the divorcing couple cannot agree on all of these matters, then they will be decided by the family court judge following a trial on the issues. In every area, the court has the discretion and authority to rule on matters in the best interest of the children or based on the most persuasive arguments made by the parties’ attorneys. Even the outcome of child support, which is normally based on statutory guidelines and formulas, may be decided based on the needs of the couple and their children as presented in court. It is therefore essential to have a knowledgeable and experienced Maryland divorce lawyer with courtroom experience looking out for your interests throughout the process.

Absolute v. Limited Divorce in Maryland

In order to obtain a full divorce in Maryland, known as absolute divorce, you have to be able to prove one of the statutory grounds for divorce, such as desertion or cruelty. If you can’t prove one of these “fault-based” grounds for divorce, you can opt for a “no-fault” divorce, but divorce under one of these grounds requires that you live separate and apart for one or two years first. While you are separated, you may still need the protection of the courts to issue court orders or approve a legally enforceable agreement on matters such as custody, support and property division. A limited divorce offers such legal boundaries. Parties can later obtain an absolute divorce once they meet all the requirements, which will enable them to enter into a romantic relationship or marry another.

Other reasons for a legal separation or limited divorce include when the parties cannot divorce for religious reasons or need to stay married for tax or financial reasons, but still wish to live apart. Also, with a limited divorce, the couple leaves open the option of reconciliation, at which time they can come back together and still be legally married.

In either an absolute or limited divorce, the attorneys at the Coover Law Firm can offer the kind of advice and representation you need to make sure you rights and interests are protected.

Help with Divorce, Separation and Post-Divorce Issues in Maryland

At Coover Law Firm, we are with you from the very start on every issue relevant to your divorce. We make sure that all property is located, correctly identified as marital or separate property, and accurately valued for a fair property settlement. On important matters such as custody or support, we make sure your voice is heard and your needs are met. We also assist clients in post-divorce modifications or enforcement of domestic relations orders where necessary. In Columbia, contact the Coover Law Firm for help with your Maryland divorce.

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Comprehensive Howard County Family Law Practice

In addition to divorce, our comprehensive family law practice encompasses the following areas as well:

Paternity – If the question of a child’s parentage is unsettled, the issue may need to be determined in a divorce or paternity proceeding. A child’s legal father has a legal right to participate in custody and visitation where applicable, and a legal obligation to financially support his children. Children can also benefit from knowing their legal father in many ways, including knowing their medical history and securing the right to inherit or obtain certain government benefits, such as social security or veteran’s benefits.

Genetic testing is only one way in which parentage may be determined. We represent parties seeking to establish or challenge paternity and resolve related matters.

Adoption – If you are thinking of growing your family by adopting, you have made a truly wonderful and blessed decision. However, it is important to seek advice and representation from an experienced family law attorney. The adoption process can involve a significant investment of time, money and emotion, and you do not want to encounter a pitfall that derails the process. We can assist in private placement or agency adoptions.

If you are desiring to adopt your stepchild, we can advise you on the process and help you with the necessary steps, including obtaining consent from the biological parent or initiating a proceeding to terminate parental rights. We can represent a biological parent wishing to block a stepparent adoption as well.

Guardianship – When the parents of a minor cannot care for their child, whether due to death, incarceration, institutionalization or incapacity, the court will step in and appoint a legal guardian to take on that parental role. The guiding force behind the court’s decision is what is in the child’s best interests. If you are a grandparent or other family member or interested party, we can help you prove your case to become a child’s guardian or challenge the appointment of someone else you believe is unfit.

Domestic Violence – Domestic abuse is sometimes a cause for divorce, and other times it erupts during the emotional process of separation and marriage dissolution. A domestic violence charge can impact all aspects of a divorce, including child custody, spousal support and the division of property.

If you are being abused or fear you are in danger, get to a safe place and contact the police, shelter or domestic violence hotline. Whether filing a charge of abuse or defending yourself against one, contact an experienced family law attorney to advise you on the ramifications these charges can have on your divorce or child custody.

Caring, Dedicated and Experienced Maryland Family Lawyers Working for You

If you need a Maryland family law attorney for a divorce or other domestic law matter, we are here for you. In Columbia, Howard County and surrounding areas, contact the Coover Law Firm for assistance.