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Film and TV shows paint a very grim picture of the divorce process, one that includes numerous court hearings and bitter fights – often ending in a long trial and a decision that both parties dislike. The scenario may boost ratings and please the critics, but real-life divorces rarely follow this formula. In fact, many couples are able to resolve the key issues involved with the legal process outside of court, and Maryland’s divorce statute does permit them to enter their agreement as an official court order.
If this describes your situation, it is wise to talk to a Baltimore County divorce attorney about your options. On the surface, you might expect that you can represent yourself and the process will be easier since you are in agreement. However, you still have rights to protect during negotiations and drafting the paperwork related to the four areas you can agree upon in Maryland divorce.
Asset Division Settlements
By statute, all property acquired during the marriage is subject to equitable distribution between the parties at divorce. When you work out an agreement, you are essentially making your own rules on asset division. Generally, you should address:
- Which assets are marital and separate; AND,
- How to divide marital assets.
Agreements for Alimony
Courts will typically go through a two-part analysis for determining spousal support in a divorce. The first question is whether alimony is appropriate, and then deciding the terms. If you can reach a compromise, it is possible to depart from the statutory requirements. You can agree on the amount, duration, and other alimony issues that work for your situation.
Care and Support for Minor Children
Couples with children must address custody, visitation, and support during the divorce process. Courts apply the child’s best interests standard when making decisions on custody and visitation, while child support is calculated by law. When you can agree on raising the child, you might include provisions regarding:
- The child’s residence;
- Visitation schedule;
- The amount of child support to be paid by the non-residential parent;
- Decision making on education, activities, travel, and related issues;
- Medical care; and,
- Many others.
Note that, unlike asset division and alimony, the court will meticulously review an agreement regarding minor children. The arrangement must comply with the child’s best interests factors and Maryland’s child support guidelines.
Legal Fees: Divorcing spouses are usually responsible for paying their own attorneys and court fees, though courts can offset these amounts under certain circumstances. If you can agree how to pay legal costs, a judge will usually not disturb your decision.
Talk to a Baltimore County, MD Divorce Lawyer About Agreements
Working out your divorce issues by agreement is not a suitable fit for all couples, but it does offer numerous advantages. When the court is not required to address key issues, you have more control over the process and can usually complete it within a shorter time. For more information about the benefits of agreement in divorce, please contact attorney William F. Mulroney to set up a consultation. I answer your questions or schedule an initial consultation to discuss your case.