Bethesda Family Law Attorney

Baltimore Crimianl Defense Lawyers

Family law issues can encompass more than just divorce cases.  While divorce is a common family law issue, our family lawyers can help with child custody and support cases, adoptions, prenuptial agreements, and other legal issues.

If you are confronting a family law issue, it is important to work with an attorney.  One of the biggest mistakes that people can make is to resort to self-help by hiding assets from their spouse’s divorce lawyer, ignoring child support or custody orders, or otherwise trying to go around court orders – often in violation of those same orders.  Instead, work with an attorney to go to court and have orders modified and put in place to protect your rights.

Get in touch with the family law attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras for a free case review by calling (410) 694-7291 today.

Divorce Cases in Bethesda, MD

During a divorce, having a lawyer on your side is important.  Generally speaking, lawyers cannot represent both sides in a divorce, and you should not try to handle a divorce case without your own attorney – especially if your spouse already has a lawyer of their own.

Divorces can be pursued on a few different grounds.  No-fault grounds include divorces after 1 year of separation and divorce by “mutual consent.”  When you pursue a no-fault divorce, you do not need to provide proof of your spouse’s wrongdoing, and courts commonly accept the terms of the conditions the parties have already agreed to with the help of their lawyers.  These are generally the simplest kinds of divorce, but you must come to court with an agreement already in place governing questions about child custody, child support, asset division, spousal support, and other issues.

Fault-based divorces are instead based on claims that the other spouse did something wrong to cause the divorce, such as committing adultery, abusing their spouse, or deserting them.  Incarceration or institutionalization can also be grounds for a fault divorce.  In these cases, there is a list of elements you need to prove before the court will grant the divorce, and issues of child support and custody, spousal support, and asset division will typically be argued before the court and subject to the judge’s court order, though agreements can still be made even in fault divorces.

Child Support and Custody Orders and Modification in Bethesda, MD

If two parents do not live together, they can and should go to court to have court orders put in place dealing with who gets custody, what custody rights each parent has, and what child support payments are necessary.  As long as parents live together, these orders are generally not necessary, but even if co-parents separate on good terms, having an agreement on record is vital to enforcing your parental rights.

Through an agreement or court order, you can establish shared custody rights, including how much “physical custody” each parent has – i.e., how much time they have with the children living with them.  You can also establish rights surrounding “legal custody” – i.e., the right to make important decisions about your children’s health, education, religion, and more.

When a child custody order or agreement is on record with the court, you can enforce those rights if the other parent fails to return the children to your custody when required or makes non-emergency medical decisions without conferring with you.

Similarly, orders can be established for support, allowing you to turn to the courts if support is not being paid on time or in the proper amounts.  If there are issues with the support amount and you want to pay a lower amount or you need more money to support your children, you have to go to court to have the order officially modified by the judge.  Self-help – e.g., refusing to pay – can often put you in violation of the agreement, potentially leading to penalties and enforcement by the court, such as wage garnishment.  Additionally, informal agreements on the side that are not part the court order are not generally enforceable since the judge did not sign off on them.

Adoption Lawyer in Bethesda, MD

Adoptions happen in all sorts of situations, but it is always important to have a lawyer on your side.  In some cases, adoption cases can turn into complex legal battles.

Adopting from within the State of Maryland is often simplest and will require working with adoption agencies to find a child to adopt, show that you are fit to adopt, and bring the child home.  On the legal side, there are forms, paperwork, and court orders you need to finalize the adoption.

Adopting from out-of-state or overseas is more complex and requires cooperation between agencies.  It can also potentially involve more expenses, especially if you have to travel to the child’s home country during the adoption process.  Having a lawyer ensure that the process is running properly can help you avoid potentially costly and time-consuming legal issues.  Again, paperwork and court orders are also needed to finalize an out-of-state or overseas adoption.

Adopting a stepchild is potentially simpler in many cases where your spouse and the other parent are consenting.  If your spouse is a widow(er) or the child’s other parent has no custody rights, then adopting your stepchild should be simple enough.  However, cases can become difficult when the other parent objects to the adoption or wants to retain custody rights and block the adoption.  In these cases, you may need to have your attorney negotiate with their attorneys to establish visitation rights or you could need to go to court to have the adoption go through.

Other Family Law Issues We Handle in Bethesda, MD

Our attorneys also handle other family law issues, such as prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, high-asset divorce, asset division, protective orders/restraining orders, and more.  We also provide assistance and counsel involving surrogacy agreements, military divorce cases, visitation orders, and other complex family law cases.

Call Our Bethesda, MD Family Law Attorneys for Help

For help with any family law issues, contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras’ family law attorneys at (410) 694-7291 for a free case evaluation.