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Annapolis Divorce Law Blog

More challenges for same-sex couples, pt. 2

When discussing the fitness of same-sex couples as parents, the danger of allowing pseudoscience to gain a foothold in the "marketplace of ideas" is that it allows many with deeply held biases to pretend that they are not basing their feelings on religiously driven moral convictions, but on "science" and the facts.

The fact is, prior to the last few years in states like Maryland and Massachusetts, same-sex marriage was prohibited and still is in some states. We do not have pristine data from 20 years ago of children growing up in same-sex marriages, because there were no "legitimate" same-sex marriages at that time.

More challenges for same-sex couples, pt. 1

As we have discussed before, the landscape for same-sex marriage and divorce across the country is the legal equivalent of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. While many advances have been achieved for same-sex couples, the prospect of moving from a state like Maryland, where same-sex marriage has been available for years, to states with same-sex marriage bans that have been struck down, but have appeals pending, and obtaining a divorce and child custody agreement, is daunting.

One troubling aspect of the debate over same-sex marriage involves children. Some studies have been published that suggest that children from these marriages have more emotional and developmental problems than children from straight couples.

Confusion reigns over same-sex marriage in Alabama

Same sex couples in Maryland can only look on aghast at proceedings concerning same-sex marriage in Alabama this week and be thankful for Maryland's orderly acceptance of same-sex marriage. A federal judge in Mobile had ruled the state's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stay the order striking down the ban and the state should have then allowed same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses.

Except that Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered Probate Court judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Some probate court judges ignored that order and began issuing the licenses. Other judges in some counties have refused to issue the licenses, leaving the state with a patchwork of counties allowing or denying the issuance of marriage licenses.

Don't let conflict be your comfort

Divorce can be psychologically very difficult. In situations where there is clear domestic violence, it still is very difficult for a battered spouse to leave. Because as much as we may be unhappy or in pain, change can be even more difficult.

In addition, for some couples with children, the conflict if deep seated may be all they know. They may have spent years in varying degrees of conflict, to the point where their entire relationship is little more than scar tissue. Once the divorce is final, and their child custody arrangement is the main point of contact and interaction, the kneejerk reaction will be to react with conflict.

Don't make your divorce more expensive than necessary

During a divorce, you want to complete the process as quickly as possible and move on with your life. And that is a good thing, because delay and unnecessary litigation both prolongs the process and makes it more expensive.

Before you start your divorce process, it can be helpful to pre-visualize your total marital estate, which would included all of your joint property. From assets like your bank accounts and investment accounts, real estate, including your family home, vacation property and any other real property. Valuable personal property, like jewelry or art. All retirement accounts, 401ks and pensions. 

Same-sex marriage receives another day in the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has finally accepted a group of cases involving same-sex marriage for argument this term. Those arguments will be heard in April and a decision is likely by the last day of the court's session, June 29. What the decision will say will has consequences for all same-sex couples, even those married in Maryland.

This issue is important for same-sex Maryland couples, because while their rights to marriage and same-sex divorce are safe, being the product of legislative action, should they ever move to another state that lacks similar protections, they could experience any number of difficulties, from the inability to divorce to become the target of anti-same-sex legislation that has been proposed in various jurisdictions.

Are you ready for a divorce?

Divorce is both a legal procedure and an experience. You hire a divorce attorney to handle the technical aspect of the procedure. Filing in the right court, seeing that the correct documents are filed and that your spouse is properly served, are essential and need to be done right the first time.

The legal aspects also include drawing up of the property division, child custody arrangements, child support and spousal support, if appropriate. An experienced attorney can help greatly with these elements of your divorce. He or she has seen numerous situations involving circumstances not unlike your own, and can use that experience to your benefit.

Happy New Year! And I want a divorce

The New Year brings expectations of new beginnings and new resolutions. Of course, New Year Day is simply an abstract day singled out to be the start of a year. While perhaps tied to the winter solstice and the gradual lengthening of days, few things really change beyond the calendar when December 31 becomes January 1.

But with the closing of the traditional holidays, January brings a significant increase in divorce fillings. The family courts see a 30 percent increase with the New Year, as couples decide they want to begin the New Year apart.

High assets divorces: Understanding property division

Deciding to separate is not an easy decision for any couple. When two people get married, they are focused on their future and all of the happiness it will bring, yet all too often, these same couples end up trying to figure out how to divide their assets and go their separate ways years later. While some Maryland divorces are fairly simple and the asset division cut and dried, this is not usually the case, and in general, the more assets a couple has, the more complicated the division process can be.

High-asset divorces often include assets such as real estate — often times more than one property — as well as financial holdings such as stocks, bonds or retirement funds. These types of assets are not always able to be divided easily, and it can take some time to work out a property division agreement that is acceptable to both parties.

Child support: Keeping information up-to-date

When a child support order is put in place, it can cause resentment for both parents. It is common for the paying parent to feel that the support amount is too much, while the receiving parent may think that the money is not enough. Child support in Maryland is most often determined by a formula that takes into consideration both parents' financial status and the needs of the child.

Once a support order is in place, any modifications must go through the courts. This includes requests to increase the child support amount or petitions to decrease the support in cases of the paying parent losing a job. It is also crucial for both parties to ensure that the Child Support Enforcement Administration has up-to-date information and is informed about any changes to either parent's situation.

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