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Annapolis Divorce Law Blog

Beneficiary designations need to be changed after a divorce

Divorce is unsettling. From your set routines and patterns of behavior, to the allocation of your assets for your retirement accounts. You have to dissolve your marriage and all of the formal contractual arrangements that you created during your time with your spouse.

You need to separate your bank accounts, you need to sell your family home or pay off the mortgage and obtain a new mortgage for only one spouse. You need to draft a new will and create a new estate plan that will provide the structure for your life without your spouse as you move towards retirement.

Good child care can be an important factor in military divorce

As the home of the United States Naval Academy, it is no surprise that many families living in and around Annapolis are military families. Whether you are a service member or are married to one, you understand that there are certain challenges unique to life in the military.

This also follows in divorce. The state divorce laws and general process in Maryland are the same for military families as they are for non-military ones, but the issues can be very different. Military laws can also have an effect. Custody is a primary example. 

Statistics, child support and your divorce

Child support and child custody are inexorably linked. In most states, like Maryland, the amount of child support due varies depending on amount of time a child spends with a parent. But just looking at some numbers can be misleading, and looking at aggregate numbers tell you little of what that means to an individual.

For instance, one could be surprised to learn that more fathers than mothers receive nothing in child support payments. Data from 2011 shows that 32 percent of custodial fathers receive no child support. For custodial mothers, the number was 25.1 percent.

Foreshadowing of a divorce?

For some, a spouse stating they want a divorce may come as a total surprise. If so, that may be part of the problem. They may have been so wrapped up in their own affairs that they did not see the unhappiness or dissatisfaction in their spouse. Or, their spouse may have been exceptionally clever and a good actor.

However, in most situations, there are warning signs that are likely to indicate a direction in your relationship that ends at the steps of a Maryland family courtroom. Some signs may be behavioral, with constant bickering or shouting matches, often over seemingly trivial matters.

What is the price of not being able to divorce?

Divorce is usually discussed as if it were always a bad thing. The pejorative terminology is rampant. Failed marriages and toxic divorces make headlines and the celebrity gossip sites. Of course, divorces without incendiary pyrotechnics may make dull reading and are unlikely to temp users to click on a link.

But divorce provides a valuable service to millions of Americans, and if it did not, it would likely fade from view rapidly. Human relationships are complex and ever changing. A couple that was madly in love when they were in college may find they no longer have much in common at 35. Others may have married impulsively and their immature judgment may prove to have been wanting.

The rate of military divorce continues its decline

Or, at least, for some service members. The overall rate for service personnel declined to 3.1 percent. In 2011, at its peak, it had reached 3.7 percent. The rate for 2014, is only 0.1 percent higher than it was in 2005. It still remains much higher than it was before the beginning of the war in the Middle East; in 2001, it was 2.6 percent. But when discussing aggregate divorce rates, it is important to keep in mind that divorce is always personal.

As the data suggests, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were difficult on service members. The extended and repeated tours of duty overseas placed a great deal of stress and strain on the service members and their families and it showed in the high rates of divorce.

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.

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