Family law issues present unique challenges. We can help you navigate the divorce process and help you build a better future for your family. Many cases can be resolved through negotiation or mediation, however, sometimes litigation is required to address your issues.
With a comprehensive knowledge of family law throughout the D.C. metro region, we can help you determine the best course to pursue your matter with the experience and the compassion needed in family law issues.
As family law cases are all unique, and the facts of your situation will be significantly different than any other case, there are several main issues or themes that come up on a regular basis.
Grounds for Divorce
In each jurisdiction, there is only one entity that can actually grant a divorce between two spouses, and that is the applicable court prescribed by statute to decide divorce cases. But in all cases, there must be a reason for the divorce. In most instances, that reason is simply that the parties have been living separate and apart for the applicable time period. However, other grounds for divorce can include adultery, desertion, and cruelty, among others.
There are two types of child custody to be decided in all custody cases, legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to who makes the important decisions affecting the child’s life. Examples of legal custody decisions are healthcare and educational decisions. Physical custody refers to the arrangement outlining where the child actually resides. When making custody decisions, the most important determination is what arrangement is in the best interest of the child.
Support for the benefit of children is generally determined in accordance with the applicable child support guidelines for the jurisdiction in which a particular case is pending. Child support guidelines can take into account the income of each party, the cost of health insurance for the child, the cost of work-related child care, and the physical custody arrangement. There may also be adjustments to the child support guideline calculations for various reasons.
Division of Property
Courts have the authority to decide what is marital property, and equitably divide that property according to statute. While marital property, or at least the value of marital property, is often divided 50/50, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Alimony or Spousal Support
Alimony, often referred to as spousal support, comes in many forms. Alimony can be for a wide range of amounts, and can be definite or indefinite in duration. The general purpose of alimony can be to limit any unfair economic advantage of a divorce to the receiving spouse, to make sure the receiving spouse continues to have the same standard of living as during the marriage, or perhaps to give the receiving spouse a buffer in order to get back into the workforce.
Property Settlement Agreements
Most divorce and family law cases settle, and often through a comprehensive property settlement agreement addressing all issues arising out of the parties’ separation and divorce. A well-drafted property settlement agreement can help the parties avoid conflict in the future, protects both sides, and can even address items that a court may not be able to address.
Child support and child custody orders or arrangements are always modifiable upon the occurrence of a material change in circumstances. In certain situations, alimony and spousal support may also be modifiable. In other words, if there is an existing custody or support order, if something changes in the future, the parties or the court may be able to modify that order to conform with the parties’ current circumstances.
Contempt or Enforcement
If one person is in violation of a prior order, whether it be for non-payment of support, denial of visitation, or for any other reason, the non-violating party may be able to bring that person back to court in a contempt or enforcement proceeding. Sanctions for violating a court order can be severe, and often include jail time.
Family abuse and domestic violence are growing issues all over the United States. Fortunately, there are laws to protect those who have been the victims of domestic violence including applying for a protective order against the abuser.
Sometimes it is prudent for two soon-to-be newlyweds to agree on various issues before (or shortly after) they are married, in an effort to limit their exposure in the event of a divorce. While no one likes to talk about prenuptial agreements, as talking about a potential divorce really puts a damper on a wedding, the fact remains that the divorce rate has hovered around 50% for a long time.
The foregoing are only some of the family law issues we handle, and certainly aren’t representative of all the potential circumstances you may be facing. The attorneys at Mirsky Law Group are ready to listen to your concerns and answer all your questions, and dedicate ourselves to helping you navigate the legal process with due respect and consideration for your specific needs.
For more information on family law, please contact David J. Marquardt at (301) 664-7710 or DJMarquardt@mirskylawgroup.com.