Guiding People Through The Divorce Process
While most people are familiar with the concepts of child custody, visitation and dividing property during a divorce, they lack first-hand knowledge of how these processes work. Listed below are some of the more commonly asked family law questions we hear from first-time clients at Bours & Lucero, LLC.
What Is The Difference Between Marital Property And Separate Property?
With some notable exceptions, marital property is generally anything acquired by either spouse during their marriage and separate property is anything owned by either spouse prior to the marriage. When the court divides a couple’s assets, only marital property is divided. However, Maryland is an equitable distribution state, meaning that property is divided in a way that is fair and equitable, but not necessarily an equal 50-50 split.
How Do Courts Determine Which Parent Gets Custody Of The Children?
The guiding principle behind determining custody is doing what is in the best interests of the children. Ideally, the divorcing parents can come to mutual agreement on child custody that is supported by the court. When parents cannot reach an agreement, the court considers many factors, including:
- Who the primary caregiver was during the marriage
- The fitness of each parent to provide care, including past issues of abuse and neglect
- The financial stability of each parent
- The age and health of each child
- The ability of each spouse to maintain family relationships
- In some cases, the preference of the child is considered
Other factors such as religious views and how close parents live to each other also play a role in determining custody and creating a parenting plan. We work with clients to help avoid relying on the court and reach an agreement that is beneficial to the children and both parents.
Will I Have To Pay Child Support?
Typically, the parent with primary custody receives child support. However, this can vary based on the income of each parent and their share of physical custody. If the parent with primary custody makes significantly more money than their ex-spouse, they may be required to make child support payments to the noncustodial parent.
The Maryland Department of Human Resources uses a formula to determine a baseline amount for child support payments. The exact amount of child support payments is decided during the course of your divorce proceeding.
Can Visitation Rights Be Denied?
If the circumstances used to determine visitation rights at the time of the divorce change, the custodial parent may petition the court to alter the visitation rights agreement. For example, it may be appropriate to review visitation rights if one parent lost their job, remarried or moved. If the new circumstances create an environment that poses a risk to the child’s well-being or creates a situation that would contradict the custodial parent’s goals, the judge may reduce or revoke visitation rights.