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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) From New Clients

FAQ’s From New Clients

Coming to the end of a relationship can be an overwhelming experience. If you or your spouse recently made the difficult decision to end your marriage and have unanswered questions about the process, we offer below some answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) from new clients.


How Long Does The Divorce Process Take?

Thanks to Maryland’s Mutual Consent Law, couples with or without minor children in common are able to skip the 12-month separation period previously required to obtain a no-fault absolute divorce, as long as the couple has a written agreement resolving all issues, including, custodial access, child support, alimony, and property division. This has significantly sped up the divorce process in Maryland. However, the length of time for your divorce is all dependent on how long it takes you and your spouse to reach a resolution on the issues related to your divorce.

Additionally, new legislation signed by Governor Wes Moore on May 16, 2023 that will become effective later this year will modernize and streamline the divorce process even further.


Do I have to be separated from my spouse to get a divorce?

No. As long as the you have a written agreement resolving all issues, you can reside in the same home and simultaneously get divorced.

What are the grounds for divorce in Maryland?

Important changes to Maryland’s divorce laws that will be implemented on October 1, 2023 are the elimination of the following grounds for divorce: Adultery, Desertion, Criminal convictions leading to jail/prison time, 12-month separation, Insanity and Cruelty of treatment of excessively vicious conduct towards a spouse and/or child. With the removal of these grounds, the court will now be able to grant a divorce if a couple has been “separated” for at least 6 months as opposed to 12 months or if a couple has cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason to end their marriage. Additionally, “separated” does not necessarily mean you and your spouse must live in separate homes. Under the changes to Maryland’s new divorce laws, spouses can live in the same home for the six-month separation time period and are still able to obtain a divorce, provided that the new grounds for divorce are met.

What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody?

There are two types of child custody: legal and physical. Physical custody refers to the time-sharing arrangement between parents. In some cases, a parent may have sole or primary physical custody with the other parent having visitation, or the parents may have shared physical custody.

Legal custody in Maryland, refers to the parents’ ability to make major life decisions, such as medical, educational, and religious choices, for the child/children. In many states, courts regularly award joint legal custody, which means that the decision regarding the minor child/children is shared by both parents.

What is the difference between an Uncontested Divorce and a Contested Divorce?

If you and your spouse are able to agree on all or most of the terms of your case, including how you’ll split up your assets and debts, how you’ll handle custody of any children, and whether/how much support will be paid, a Marital Settlement Agreement, also commonly referred to as a Separation Agreement, can be written up and enforced by a judge. By entering into an Agreement, your divorce would be considered an uncontested divorce.

A contested divorce is where the parties are not in agreement with at least one issue such as: the divorce itself, property division, child custody, alimony, etc. and where the parties allow the court to decide for them.

Can I Protect My Inheritance During A Divorce?

Yes, you can protect your inheritance during your divorce by keeping your inheritance separate from your marital assets such as in a separate bank account or investment account that is only in your name and not commingled with marital assets. You may also protect your inheritance if you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

What is a QDRO?

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a specific type of domestic relations court order that recognizes the right of an “alternate payee” to receive all or part of a retirement or pension plan, which belongs to another person.

A QDRO specifically recognizes an ex-spouse’s, or soon-to-be-ex-spouse’s, interest in the other spouse’s qualified retirement plan. A QDRO can also recognize the rights of the plan participant’s children or other dependents. A state court can issue a QDRO, but a retirement plan administrator can reject it if its requirements do not agree with the plan’s rules. This is why it’s important to submit a QDRO to a retirement plan administrator as soon as possible and ideally before a divorce is final. A financial advisor or attorney who specializes in divorce can help you with a QDRO.

Does My Divorce Impact My Taxes?

In general, the timing of your divorce can affect your tax situation, particularly if you have significant assets or liabilities that need to be divided between you and your spouse. For example, your marital status on December 31st of the tax year determines your filing status for that tax year. If you are divorced or separated by that date, you must file as either single or head of household, depending on your circumstances. If you are still married, you can file jointly or separately, which can affect your tax liability.

Will I Get A Greater Share Of The Assets If My Spouse Cheated?

Not likely. While Maryland is an equitable distribution state, if you go to court for your divorce without a prior agreement, a judge with likely divide all marital property equally. However, keep in mind that all assets do not have to be equally divided if you both agree on how they will be divided. If you and your spouse both decide that the circumstances of your divorce entitle one person to a larger share of marital assets, it may be worth an unequal division of assets to save time and money spent on going to court.

Can I get Divorced Without Going to Court?

If you and your spouse are able to successfully reach an agreement that resolves all issues between you, you may immediately get an uncontested divorce based on the ground of mutual consent. This ground for divorce does not require you and your spouse to be separated. Maryland requires you to attend a short, and possibly remote virtual, uncontested divorce hearing in order for your divorce to be finalized.

What Happens to our pet in a Maryland Divorce?

Although your pet is a living, breathing member of your family, in most states, including Maryland, pets are considered property. This means that either you become your pet’s sole owner, or your spouse does. This can be disappointing news to a pet owner who is in the midst of a divorce. However, if you and your spouse agree to share pet custody, Jacobson Family Law can prepare a Marital Separation Agreement that incorporates you and your spouses’ agreeable terms.

We hope the answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) from new clients was helpful. If you would like to speak to one of our divorce lawyers in Maryland or divorce mediators, contact us today to schedule a consultation with a Maryland attorney at Jacobson Family Law by calling 443-741-1147 or by visiting our website.