What is The Average Length It Takes To Work Through A Divorce Or Custody Case In Maryland?
The average length of a divorce or custody case in Maryland is eight months. Each case is going to vary based on the specific elements of their situation, of course. The minimum length is probably six months, but many things can prolong that.
Filing the case, serving the papers, and having your scheduling conference alone can take a couple of months, and this is before your case really even begins. The overall length depends heavily on the disputes between the parties and the court’s docket. If the docket is very crowded, they may be pushing dates out farther and farther.
Every court has a case time standard. Basically, a case time standard is a rule that the state or the county has that requires a case to be resolved within a year. The court is never going to intentionally schedule a case to take the full year, though, as they want to resolve cases as expeditiously as possible.
So, based on all of this, eight months is usually a pretty good estimate, though it could take less time and can sometimes take a little longer if there are contentious disputes involved.
Do You Find That There Are Certain Things Or Issues That Arise In Divorce And Custody Cases In Maryland That Turn Out To Be Quite Common Across The Board?
Honestly, there are a lot of very common issues that arise in divorce and custody cases in Maryland. This is a good thing for clients who are hiring an attorney, because there’s a very good chance that they have dealt with your specific issues before and will know how to handle them.
One common issue that can arise during these cases is denial of access. Once people file something in court and the other party knows there’s a contested court case out there, you’re going to have to go in front of a judge. People can act crazy and do things you wouldn’t have expected them to do, which may seem wildly unfair. Restricting access to a child is, unfortunately, extremely common.
Denial or restriction of access can be done in different ways and the courts don’t have a perfect solution to that. The court isn’t going to fix it the way that you’d like them to or in the way that we probably all wish that they could. There are a number of things we can do to try to address the situation, though, such as…
- Speaking with the opposing attorney,
- Sending a letter, or
- Filing different things with the court.
Another common issue that arises with custody cases, in particular, is that one parent is making unilateral decisions. This can become very serious at times, depending on what decisions that parent is making.
During the pendency of the case, there’s no court order in place to grant anyone physical or legal custody. A lot of times, one parent will just decide that they are in charge and might make decisions for the child, such as…
- Taking the child to the doctor,
- Enrolling the child in a school or program, or
- Moving the child out of state.
They’re not necessarily legally authorized to make these unilateral decisions, because parents have equal rights to participate in decision-making for their child, but they still do it and create complex issues. Once those things have been done, all you can do is damage control. Some things are easier to fix than others.
If one parent makes the unilateral decision to put a child in therapy and the other parent doesn’t want their child in therapy, that parent can call the therapist and tell them that they don’t consent to the treatment. The therapist would then be unable to treat the child based on that lack of consent of the other parent.
It may be more difficult to repair medical treatments. If one parent made a unilateral decision about a medical treatment and that treatment has already been done, you can’t undo it.
School enrollment can also be a difficult decision to undo. A lot of times schools do things that you think that they shouldn’t have done. Schools are advised by attorneys but they have a different goal in mind than what parents do when making decisions. If one parent enrolls the cold in school without the other parent’s permission, you can’t necessarily yank the child out of school.
In divorce cases, outside of the realm of custody, some common issues that may arise are…
- Division of property,
- Financial issues, and
- Preserving retirement.
Division of property can become a contentious issue in many divorce cases. It’s also tied directly to financial issues. This is because one party may leave and just stop paying all of the bills. Being left to try to support yourself as a one-income household can be a serious strain. A lot of times, a client may feel that their spouse should be required to pay something, like half of the mortgage, utilities, or car insurance. However, that isn’t necessarily going to be required of them by the court.
Many clients are very concerned with preserving their retirement during their divorce case. They don’t want their spouse to get any of their retirement funds. Unfortunately, preserving your retirement in a divorce is one of the hardest things to do. The court views retirement accounts as marital property, therefore it will most often be divided as marital property with your spouse.
What percentage of your retirement accounts gets divided is a different thing entirely. There’s a whole math problem involved with dividing parietal property. In certain counties in Maryland, there are a lot of federal government and military people who have really good retirement accounts. They will feel that they’ve earned their retirement – TSP, pension, 401(K) – and shouldn’t have to share it, but the court most likely will decide otherwise.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Family Law Cases, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy. For more information on Family Law in Maryland, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (443) 300-2335 today.