FAQs

Maryland Family Law Professionals

Here are some of the most common general questions we are often asked by people seeking answers about divorce and other family law matters. Everybody’s situation is different, so these questions should be considered starting points about the topic.

Hecht & Associates, LLC, offers a full range of family law services and invites you to call our offices in Rockville, Maryland, to schedule a consultation to discuss your specific circumstances.

General Family Law

How do I know which attorney is right for me?

To find a lawyer that is suited to your needs, you will need to schedule a consultation where you can meet with them and get the answers you need before making a decision. You can discuss with them their possible approach to your case, what resources they will have at their disposal and their fee. During the meeting, you should be able to determine if you are comfortable with them and feel confident in allowing them to handle your case.

What can I expect to pay in attorney fees for my divorce or custody case?

Like every marriage, every divorce has a unique set of circumstances. Hecht & Associates does not offer one-size-fits-all divorce services. We review your circumstances and fight to protect your rights and interests as the law applies. We will discuss the fees and other expected costs during the initial consultation.

What types of documents should I provide to my attorneys?

You can assist your family lawyer, by providing them with the documentation they will need to handle your case. In most cases they will need your tax returns as well as other forms such as check stubs that can prove your income. You will also need to provide any documentation regarding the marital assets and debts. If you have a prenuptial, postnuptial, or separation agreement you will want to provide them as well.

What is a financial statement and how should I fill it out?

For marital property division and support, you will be required to accurately and completely fill out a financial statement. The statement is a court document, and knowingly failing to disclose financial details accurately and completely can result in contempt charges.

Divorce & Marital Property

Am I an alimony candidate and what are the considerations?

The state of Maryland and Washington, D.C., each apply a set of criteria when determining spousal support, often referred to as alimony. Among other considerations, the criteria include:
 

  • The length of the marriage
  • The spouse’s ability to support themselves
  • A spouse’s need for further education or job training
  • The current and potential financial situation of each spouse
  • The current standard of living
  • Each partner’s monetary and nonmonetary contributions to the family
  • The circumstances surrounding the divorce filing
  • Each partner’s monetary and nonmonetary contributions to the family
  • The age, health and abilities of each partner
  • Other marital assets granted to each partner, including pensions, investments, etc.

What rights are available to victims of domestic violence?

Domestic violence victims have the right to protect themselves and their children during the divorce proceedings by requesting a protective order. These are no-contact orders that can prohibit the abusing spouse from having contact with you and sometimes even the children during the case. The judge will most likely place a temporary order if there are grounds and then give the accused spouse the chance to bring their case to court if they choose. They will then make a ruling as to whether or not the protective order will stand.

What is pendente lite and what does it have to do with my divorce?

Think of pendente lite as a separation agreement for one spouse to support the other financially or otherwise while the divorce litigation proceeds through the courts. Typically, it means the partner who is the higher-earner pays some financial support to the lower-earning spouse. The pendente lite agreement may serve as the final divorce decree for financial support, but not necessarily.

What is collaborate law and how is it different thank litigation?

Collaborative law is a means of resolving disputes through alternatives to trial. In family law matters, the collaborative process can include:

Skillful negotiations: Family law judges in Maryland and the District of Columbia expect both parties to work toward dispute resolution outside of the courts. The first and most important way to resolve disputes is through skillful negotiations by the attorneys for both parties. In most cases, disputes are resolved at the conference room table.

Mediation: Both parties and their attorneys agree to present proposals to an independent mediator, who guides the parties through the negotiating process, while also making them aware of the law and how a judge is likely to view and rule on a specific disputed matter. Mediation can be an excellent way to resolve disputes without the cost of litigation, although the final proposed agreement is not legally binding until a judge reviews it and “adjudicates” it as a final judgment.

Arbitration: Not common in family law disputes, both parties agree to present the facts of their dispute to an impartial arbitrator, who makes a final decision. The decision is not necessarily all or nothing. The arbitrator may rule partially in favor of one party and partially in favor of the other party. In most cases, both parties agree to abide by the decision of the arbitrator.

How long will it take me to get divorced?

This is a difficult question to answer because even the most straight-forward uncontested divorces often end up with disputed issues neither party thought would be a problem. If both spouses agree to resolve potential disputes and the marital property is not complex, some divorces can be completed in a matter of a few months. Complex, high-asset divorce with financial and custodial disputes can take up to 18 months.

What are the benefits of reaching a marital settlement agreement?

Agreeing to an out of court divorce settlement can help save both parties a lot of time and money that would go into the litigation process if the case were to go to trial. It also can be beneficial because it can give both parties a say in the final outcome of the case and possibly lead to separation on better terms.

What is a Statement of Marital Property?

A Statement of Marital Property is a comprehensive list of all of the property that was acquired by either spouse during the time frame of their marriage, This can include houses, cars, 401(k)s, bank accounts, furniture, jewelry, and other types of personal property. While most property obtained will be considered, some items may expect such as pre-marriage assets, and valuable assets given as a gift.

What is discovery, and what information is accessible through a divorce?

Once the divorce process has started information will need to be exchanged between the two parties involved. This is called discovery and con include any information that is relevant to the economic, personal., or financial situations of the marriage. Documents may be requested to show information about asset ownership, debt, and income.

How is money transferred after the divorce from one spouse to another?

If a spouse is ordered to pay alimony or child support, they can most easily make payments by setting up an income withholding or an automatic direct deposit transfer set for the specific date. Whichever method you choose, there should be a way to easily access transactions in case payments are ever called into question. You should always avoid making payments in cash as these can be hard to track.

Child Custody & Support

How is child support calculated and what as the Child Support Guidelines?

In the state of Maryland, the gross income of both parents will be considered when a child support amount is determined. The court will use an “Income Shares Model” worksheet to calculate support. The number of children is then added into the calculation to determine how much care for the children should cost each month. Once the amount per month is determined, each parent will be responsible for their percentage which will be calculated based on their income. The parent who makes more will be responsible for a higher percentage.

What services and tools will help me obtain my goals regarding custody?

Custody is about determining what is the best living situation for the child. This involves meeting their social, physical, and emotional needs. It is important to promote a stable and healthy environment, be dependable, put your child first, demonstrate good parenting skills, and not alienate your child from the other parent. You can help improve your chances by becoming involved in co-parenting groups and parenting skills classes to help demonstrate your willingness to put in the effort to give your child what you need. You should also seek out the services of a legal professional who can discuss your custody goals and provide you with guidance on how to prepare and file for custody.

What is a parenting agreement?

A parenting agreement is a document that both parents create which will outline the way that the children will be cared for after a divorce. These are beneficial as it can put into words what each ex-spouse expects of each other which can greatly reduce the amount of conflict. Parenting agreements may also be called a custody agreement and can include plans for custody, visitation, transportation, medical care, education, holiday visits, financial issues, and even religious upbringing.

What are the differences between physical and legal custody?

Physical custody is a legal term used to describe which parent has the right for the child or children to live with them. When joint child custody is established then both parents will have the right for the child or children to live with them, so they will both have physical custody determined by a set schedule. Legal custody involves the responsibility for making legal decisions on the child’s behalf. This can include where the child will attend school, the medical care they will receive, and the religious upbringing they will have. In situations where joint custody is awarded, both parents are most often given the responsibility, though one parent may have legal custody even if both have physical custody.

What are the factors that the court considers when determining custody?

The court will take many factors into consideration when determining custody arrangements of children. They will consider the age of the children, the wishes of the parent, and the quality of the parent-child relationship between each. They will also look into the mental and physical health of the parent along with their ability to provide a stable and loving environment for the children. Living arrangements will be reviewed and the ability for each parent to provide for the child’s physical, emotional and medical care will be determined. Other considerations that could become factors in a custody decision is the child’s attachment to a home or school sand if they are old enough what preference they have.

How can one modify an existing child support or custody order?

Generally speaking, courts don’t often modify existing orders, unless the parent who is proposing the modification can show a change of circumstances. If the parent has a strong case for such a change they must request the court to hold a hearing where the pros and cons of the modification can be heard. Modifications can be temporary or permanent and could arise from a medical emergency to a change in marital status, to a change in employment.

What factors are considered when a parent wants to relocate with the child(ren)?

A judge will take into consideration a number of factors when choosing whether or not to grant the relocation of a child. Consideration will be given to the child’s emotional ties to both their parents as well as other siblings, half-siblings, or step-siblings. The judge will also look at the parent’s knowledge of their child’s needs, how well they can provide them with love, education, and guidance, and how well we pay for their physical needs. The court will also be looking at the environment in the new and current location and how well the person will be willing to help the child retain a strong relationship with both parents.

Contact Us With Your Specific Questions

Every family law matter has its own set of complex, unique issues to resolve. Don’t assume any answers you read here or anywhere else will apply to your specific situation. Call us at 301-861-4797 or contact us by email to schedule a consultation to discuss your specific questions.