Frequently Asked Questions

Family Law

 

Do I have to be a Maryland resident to file for a divorce ?

You must be a Maryland resident for at least one year before filing for divorce here. There is an exception if the grounds for divorce arose after you moved to Maryland.[bg_faq_end]

Where will the complaint be filed?

The complaint will be filed in the Circuit Court in the county where you live or where your spouse lives, works, or conducts business.

What happens to my personal information when I file for divorce?

A new rule in Maryland law, 1-332.1, makes it harder for sensitive personal information to find its way into court documents and onto the Internet. This is good news for those concerned about invasion of privacy and the possibility of identity theft. A new judiciary rule that went into effect in July 2013 helps protect anyone.

What is a limited divorce?

A limited divorce is a legal separation.

What is an absolute divorce?

An absolute divorce is a complete dissolution of a marriage in which either party is free to remarry.

What are the grounds for an absolute divorce?

The grounds for an absolute divorce are

  1. adultery,
  2. desertion,
  3. voluntary separation,
  4. conviction of a felony or misdemeanor if spouse has been sentenced to serve at least 3 years and has served 12 months of sentence,
  5. two-year separation,
  6. insanity if the insane spouse has been institutionalized for at least three years;
  7. cruelty of treatment; and
  8. excessively vicious conduct..

 

What is marital property?

Marital property consists of all the assets that were acquired by either or both spouse during the marriage. This is true regardless of how the asset is titled unless it is excluded by agreement or was received as a gift or an inheritance.

How long does it take to get a divorce?

The length of time depends on the length of the separation, the grounds for divorce and various other factors regarding the length of the marriage and the size of the marital estate.

Obtaining a divorce is a lengthy process in Maryland. If you do not have grounds to file for an immediate absolute divorce, parties must wait a year and a day before they can even file the Complaint for a Divorce and it may be another several months before the parties are even in Court.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process where the spouses sit with a neutral third party to try to come to a settlement.

Do I have to go to mediation?

Often it is ordered by the court, in which case you must attend. There are many benefits to mediation including a quicker and less expensive settlement.

Will my case be heard by a judge?

In Maryland, family court hearings are overseen by Masters. They are the ones who will hear the facts and determine the outcome of your case. If both parties agree to the Master’s findings then a court order will be issued. If either party is unsatisfied, they can request the case be heard by a judge.

How Can Divorce and Separation Affect Your Credit Report?

Separation and divorce can be financially stressful. It’s challenging to go from a two-income household to a single-income household, especially when the amount of expenses almost doubles because both parties now have separate household and living expenses. Having the same amount of income to pay double the expenses puts an incredible burden on both parties to pay all of those expenses in a timely manner, which directly affect your credit.

Personal Injury

Who pays my medical bills when I am hurt?

If you have auto insurance and you are in an auto accident, your insurance company will pay your medical bills and a portion of your wages up to a certain point if you have Personal Injury Protection or PIP coverage. In Maryland, most policies have a $2,500 worth of PIP coverage, unless you specifically sign a waiver with your insurance company.

If you are not at-fault for the accident, the other driver’s auto insurance company will also be responsible for the same medical bills or lost wages. In other words, you can essentially collect twice for the same medical bills and lost wages. (If your employer continues to pay you during the time missed, you are essentially collecting your lost wages three times.) The at-fault driver’s insurance company is also responsible for your pain and suffering damages for your personal injuries, which is usually the largest part of anyone’s claim.

You may find that your own insurance company will not pay some of your bills. It may also send you a letter telling you that you must be examined by one of their doctors in what they like to call an independent medical examination (IME) before they will continue to pay any more of your medical bills. If that happens, we can help you fight your own insurance company.

If you have health insurance, it serves as a backup insurer. It will pay your medical bills after you have run out of PIP coverage.

What is PIP coverage and do I have to have it?

PIP or Personal Injury Protection is insurance coverage for medical and other expenses to cover you for an automobile accident regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Maryland law does not require PIP coverage on auto policies, but insurance companies are required to offer you the coverage when you buy an auto insurance policy. If you do not want it, you can reject it in writing by executing a waiver.

PIP insurance is very helpful to you if you are injured because it essentially allows you to recover twice for your same medical bills and lost wages, because your PIP insurance will pay all of your medical bills. Yet you can still collect from the at-fault driver’s insurance company for the same medical bills. This is possible in Maryland under the collateral source rule.

Do I still have a claim if my medical bills were paid by insurance?

In Maryland you are still entitled to be compensated for your medical bills regardless of whether or not they have been paid by through a PIP claim or by your own health insurance company. If you miss work, you can collect your lost wages even if your company pays you for the missed time. In most cases, the largest portion of your personal injury claim is compensation for your pain and suffering.

The law in Maryland is well settled that pain and suffering constitutes a proper element of damages. McMahon v. North Central Railway Co., 39 Md. 438 (1894); Harris v. Jones, 281 Md. 560 (1977).