Family law often involves matters that are closest to our heart. Intimate relationships can trigger heart-wrenching disputes when they end. We are sensitive to your needs and dedicated to seeing you through to the completion of your court experience. We offer complete family law representation, including:
- Child Custody & Modification
- Domestic Violence and Protective Orders
- Separation Agreements
- Child Support & Modification
- Restraining Orders
- Prenuptial Agreements
Child Custody & the “Best Interest of the Child”
Maryland Judges favor doing what is in “the best interest of the child” and so do we. Judges have a lot of discretion in determining who should have the responsibility of caring for a child – it could be the biological parent, a grandparent, or someone who has developed a close relationship with the child. Even though Judges have great discretion, there are still factors that the law says they must consider. Having an attorney that understands the law, and how to communicate your position to the Judge, will help preserve the relationships that matter most.
Child Support & Modification
Unlike other family law issues, the child support process is rather rigidly defined. Child support is based on guidelines created by the Maryland state legislature. Whether you are going through a divorce, legal separation, paternity action, or trying to modify an existing support order, the amount you pay or receive in support is dictated by these statutory guidelines. Each parent has a duty to provide financial support to the children. The amount you are expected to contribute for support is directly related to the percentage of income between you and the other parent. While both parents are expected to contribute financially to support of the children, only one parent will actually be required to make a payment on a monthly basis.
Either parent may be able to petition the Court to alter the amount of child support if there has been a material change of circumstances. The custodial parent may seek an increase based on increased income of the other parent, or another material change of circumstances. The non-custodial parent may seek a reduction if their income has been reduced through no fault of their own, such as unemployment or a downturn in business.
A petition for contempt is used to enforce a Court Order when the other party fails to comply with the Court’s decree. For example, should one of the parties fail to pay child support, ignore custody or visitation parameters, or otherwise disregard what the Court has ordered for them to perform, a petition for contempt is an avenue to ensure that they conform to the boundaries created by the Judge. A person held in contempt may be punished by imprisonment, a fine, or in any other manner the Court finds appropriate. A court may find that a person should not be held in contempt, however, if the person’s refusal to follow the Court order is not willful.
A divorce is much more than the end of your marriage – it is an event that will effect the rest of your life and those you care about. In many ways a divorce is the end of one life chapter, and in other ways it’s the beginning of another. Your divorce, whether complex and disputed or simple and uncontested, will require careful preparation. During this life transition you’ll have questions and we’ll have answers.
Spousal Support or Alimony
Spousal support or alimony is likely an issue whenever there is a significant difference in personal income between two spouses. Spousal support is designed to provide the lower-income spouse with money for living expenses. The spouse that receives support will pay federal and state income taxes on it, and the spouse making support payments will be entitled to a tax deduction. The existence, amount and duration of monthly support payments will be defined either by the court in a contested setting or by the parties in the form of a settlement agreement. Courts make determinations regarding spousal support after considering many factors, such as the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, as well as the age, health, earning capacity, and job histories of both individuals.
A very small percentage of cases go all the way to trial. In other words, most cases are resolved via settlement at some point in the proceedings. A global settlement in a divorce action details a plan to share time with the children, how much support is owed from one party to the other, and how to separate the assets and debts accumulated during the marriage. This agreement will impact the entire family for years to come and must be well drafted. Do not sign any agreements without first consulting an attorney. At Ortega Law, LLC, we recognize the importance and far reaching effects that these agreements can have when it comes to custody, child support, and all other facets of a divorce. Trust us to make sure that your agreement is enforceable, easy to understand, and will facilitate and increase your ability to stay out of court in the future.
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