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How do Maryland courts address child custody issues?

Not every marriage in Maryland is meant to last. When parents in Maryland decide to divorce, one of their primary concerns may be child custody and visitation. Maryland courts have a process that is followed when it comes to making child custody decisions. It is important that parents understand this process, so they can protect their rights.

The first step in a child custody case is the scheduling conference. The couple will meet with one another at the courthouse. A judge will assist the couple in identifying which issues are being contested. The judge may refer the couple to undergo mediation and the couple may need to attend a co-parenting course. The scheduling conference will also outline what deadlines will be followed in the child custody case.

Let's talk about the financial aspects of a Maryland divorce

In some ways, you know you'll always love your spouse even though you no longer want to stay married. You have children together, and you shared many memories through the years in your Maryland home. You understand that your relationship wasn't able to withstand certain pressures and you're ready to negotiate a fair and agreeable settlement, and move on in life.

It's understandable if you're concerned about finances. After living together for so many years and operating as a single household, you and your kids are accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and you're a bit worried you won't be able to maintain that when you're on your own. The good news is that there are numerous ways to protect your finances in a divorce.

Domestic violence can have life-long effects

When people in Maryland think of domestic abuse, they may envision physical violence. However, domestic abuse can be financial, emotional or physical in nature. Any type of domestic abuse can deeply scar a person for the rest of his or her life. Domestic violence can occur not just between spouses, but between parents and children, between family members living together and between two people who once had a romantic relationship but are no longer together.

If a person is being subjected to domestic violence or to the threat of violence, there are steps they can take to protect themselves. One step they can take is to pursue a restraining order that will prevent the abuser from contacting them or coming near them. Civil assault and battery actions may also be possible, depending on the situation. In the end, it is important that victims of domestic violence are safe from their abusers, and that those who abuse others are held accountable for the harm they inflicted on the victims.

Drunk driving leads to far too many motor vehicle accidents

Some people in Maryland may think nothing of getting behind the wheel of a car after having a few beers or cocktails. But, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, each day in 2017 30 people across the nation lost their lives in drunk driving accidents. While the trend of fatal drunk driving crashes has been declining over the last 30 years, drunk driving is still a serious issue in our nation.

It is important for all motorists to understand how a couple of drinks could affect their driving abilities, leading to a motor vehicle accident. While most people understand that having a blood-alcohol concentration at 0.08 percent or above can seriously impair a person's ability to drive, a BAC of 0.05 percent -- which is below the legal limit -- can negatively affect a motorist's coordination, ability to track moving objects, steer the vehicle and respond to an emergency driving situation. Even a BAC of 0.02 percent can lead to a decline in a motorist's ability to track moving objects and a decline in their ability to divide their attention between two tasks.

What may Maryland couples do with the family home in a divorce?

The family home it is often one of the most valuable assets a couple in Maryland owns. When it comes to property division in a divorce, what happens to the family home is very important, as it could significantly affect a person for years to come.

Sometimes, one party will keep the family home and buy out the other spouse's share in the home or exchange it for equitable assets in the divorce. If this happens, the party keeping the home should make sure they have the financial resources to buy out their ex's share in the home and refinance the home in their name only. In addition, the party keeping the home will want to make sure they can afford homeownership now that they are on a single income. For example, there may be a mortgage to pay, upkeep costs, property taxes and homeowners insurance. Owning a home can be very expensive and it is not something everyone can handle on their own.

A 2018 divorce can affect how you file your federal income taxes

Tax time is here, and many people in Maryland who ended their marriage in 2018 may wonder how they should account for their dissolution on their annual income taxes. Divorce does mean some changes to tax returns when it comes to divorce and income taxes.

If a divorced couple has children, it is necessary to determine which parent will claim the child as a dependent for tax purposes. Under Internal Revenue Service rules, only one parent can claim a child as a dependent for income tax purposes in any given year. Sometimes, if a couple has two children following a divorce, one spouse will claim one child as a dependent and the other spouse will claim the other child as a dependent. However, if a couple only has one child or has an odd number of children, they will need to decide ahead of time who will claim the children as dependents. If parents cannot come to an agreement, the IRS, in general, will allow the parent with whom the child resides with the majority of the time, that is, more than half the year, to claim the child as a dependent.

Include the right things in your prenuptial agreement

Preparing to walk down the aisle can be a time of great excitement, but it is also a time to think about the future beyond your wedding date. It may not seem like a romantic prospect, but many marriages do end in divorce, and you may be wise to have a contingency plan in place. You can do this by drafting a prenuptial agreement. 

A prenup is a common tool used by the wealthy to determine which spouse gets what in the event the marriage ends at some point in the future. However, it is not something that is only beneficial to those with a lot of money or significant assets. There are many benefits to having a prenuptial agreement for Maryland couples of all income levels.

What do you need to know about child custody in Maryland?

One of the primary divorce legal issues that must be resolved when parents in Maryland decide to end their marriage is child custody. It is important to understand what child custody and visitation looks like in Maryland. This is true whether parents are negotiating a parenting plan out of court or whether they are turning to a judge to make child custody decisions.

There are two types of child custody in Maryland. One is legal custody. A parent with legal custody has the right to make important decisions regarding the child, such as where the child will go to school, what religion the child will practice and the child's healthcare options. One parent can be granted sole legal custody or both parents could share joint legal custody.

I-83 in Baltimore sees its fair share of motor vehicle accidents

People in Baltimore may jest on social media that car crashes on Interstate 83 often occur by the fabled Pepsi Sign. However, the fact of the matter is that the entire stretch of I-83 in Baltimore sees more than its fair share of motor vehicle accidents. A study conducted by the Baltimore Department of Transportation reports that I-83 in Baltimore sees over two times as many motor vehicle accidents than all other comparable interstates in the state.

According to the study, annually there are over 37 collisions per mile on the stretch of I-83 that goes through Baltimore, resulting in around 250 to 300 accidents each year. Of these crashes, 26 percent were rear-end collisions and almost 20 percent of collisions involved one driver side-swiping another driver.

How do protective orders help victims of domestic violence?

While no relationship is perfect, sometimes a person's safety is placed in jeopardy by a spouse, romantic partner or relative. When this happens, a person in Maryland might want to seek a protective order. A protective order is a civil order of the court that prevents one individual from doing certain things against the individual seeking the order. There are temporary protective orders and final protective orders. These orders are meant to protect the safety of victims of domestic violence.

A temporary protective order can prevent the abuser from harming the victim. It can mandate that the abuser stay away and not contact or harass the victim at the victim's home, workplace, the victim's child's school and the homes of the victim's relatives. Under certain circumstances, a temporary protective order can mandate that the abuser leave the residence he or she may share with the victim. A temporary protective order can also give the victim temporary custody of any children or pets he or she has with the abuser.

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