Barkley & Kennedy has had lots of experience guiding our clients through divorce cases. Our clients often ask us the following questions:
What does a divorce cost?
We only charge for the time we actually spend on your case. If your case settles without the need for a trial, your fee will be substantially less than it would be if there is a trial. Although it is not possible to predict what your divorce will cost, we try to settle all cases and to keep our time to a minimum commensurate with getting a fair and reasonable outcome.
Can I get a divorce based on irreconcilable differences?
To get a divorce in Maryland you must have a ground. The state of Maryland does not recognize irreconcilable differences as a ground for divorce.
What are the grounds for divorce?
Maryland has “no-fault” and “fault” grounds for divorce.
The no-fault grounds are:
- Separation for one year: To get a divorce based on a one-year separation the parties must have separated with the intention of ending their marriage. You no longer have to prove the separation was mutual and voluntary.
- Mutual Consent (effective October 1, 2015): Permits spouses to obtain a divorce, without a waiting period, so long as the parties do not have any minor children in common, and they enter into a separation agreement that resolves all issues arising out of the marriage including alimony, monetary award, and transfer and/or use of property. They must attest that neither party will ask the Court to set the agreement aside and both parties must also appear at the uncontested hearing.
The fault grounds include:
- Desertion: To obtain a divorce based on desertion (or abandonment) a person must prove that the parties have been living apart for one year and that the other spouse moved out with the intention of ending the marriage and without justification. While this ground for divorce was not repealed, it is unlikely that people will pursue this as a ground for divorce as a one-year separation will suffice.
- Constructive desertion: To obtain a divorce based on constructive desertion, a person must prove that in order to preserve his or her health, safety or self-respect he or she had to move out due to the treatment of the other spouse and that the parties have been living separate and apart for one year. While this ground for divorce was not repealed, it is unlikely that people will pursue this as a ground for divorce as a one-year separation will suffice.
- Cruelty: Cruelty encompasses mental as well as physical abuse. Verbal and physical abuse may have been tolerated in another era, but today evidence of controlling behavior, isolation from friends or family, taunting, violence and threats of violence, or other misconduct which is calculated to seriously impair the health or permanently destroy the happiness of the other spouse, will justify an absolute divorce on grounds of cruelty or excessively vicious conduct.
- Adultery: Maryland courts recognize that it is rarely possible to prove adultery through the testimony of eyewitnesses. But there is no need to catch a philandering spouse in the act. A spouse can prove adultery through circumstantial evidence, by showing that (1) the alleged adulterer and his or her paramour were inclined to commit adultery, and (2) they had an opportunity to do so.
Can I get a divorce if my spouse and I are not sharing a bedroom but live in the same house?
Most grounds for divorce require the parties to live separate and apart in separate houses. To get a divorce based on the grounds of one-year separation, desertion or constructive desertion, the parties must be separated. That means they cannot live under the same roof, even if one stays in the basement and the other lives in the main part of the house. A divorce can be granted to parties who still live under the same roof if the grounds for divorce are adultery or cruelty. Also, in some very exceptional circumstances parties living together may be able to get a divorce. These cases are very unusual. You should discuss this with an attorney.
How can I find out how much child support I will receive?
A parent who has either sole custody or shared custody of the children will receive child support based on the Maryland child support guidelines. The guidelines are based on a formula, which establishes the amount of monthly child support.
To determine the amount of child support, insert the following information into the formula: each parent’s gross income, any income received by either parent from any other source, the cost of health insurance for the children, alimony obligations, child support obligations for other children, the cost of work-related day care, extraordinary medical expenses and private school tuition.
The child support guidelines chart stops at a combined family income of $180,000 per year. For families with higher incomes the court will either extrapolate based on the guidelines or will determine the needs of the children and apportion the payment of these expenses based on the parents’ respective incomes. In a shared custody case, the number of overnights the children spend with each parent is also a factor.
You can find a child support calculator here. However, this calculator is an estimate only because it does not reflect deviations and adjustments a court may allow. You should consult with an attorney if you have any questions regarding your legal rights and obligations.