Obtaining a Divorce in Maryland or Washington, DC

There are a number of requirements that must be satisfied when seeking to obtain a divorce in Maryland or the District of Columbia. These requirements concern residency (how long you have lived in Maryland or Washington, D.C.) as well as the basis for your divorce (referred to as grounds). This article will briefly summarize the various requirements for obtaining a divorce in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

1. Residency

Residency refers to the length of time an individual has resided in a jurisdiction prior to filing for divorce. Simply put, an individual must meet the residency requirement in the jurisdiction which they are seeking a divorce otherwise the divorce action will most likely be dismissed. Many people believe that they can only obtain a divorce in the jurisdiction which they were married. This is incorrect. A married individual can file for divorce throughout America so long as he or she meets the residency requirements in the state or district they will be filing their divorce.

In Maryland, there is a one year residency requirement if the basis for the divorce occurred outside Maryland. Otherwise, if either spouse is a resident of the state of Maryland, he or she may file in the county in which they reside. For example, if wife desires to divorce husband because husband committed adultery while they were living in New York then wife would need to reside in Maryland for at least one year prior to filing an action for divorce in the state of Maryland.

The District of Columbia has a six month residency requirement. In other words, an individual must reside in Washington, D.C. for at least six months prior to filing a divorce action in Washington, D.C.

If you do not meet the residency requirements for Maryland or the District of Columbia then your options are to: 1) establish residency by residing in the jurisdiction you desire to file a divorce in for the required length of time; 2) have your spouse file the divorce if they meet the residency requirements and are agreeable to obtaining a divorce; or 3) file for divorce in a state where you meet the residency requirements.

2. Grounds for Divorce

The term “grounds for divorce” refers to the legal basis for which a married couple is seeking a divorce. Individuals seeking a divorce must be able to prove to a court that they meet the grounds alleged in their Complaint for divorce. This can be done by providing sufficient evidence to the court through witnesses and documentation. This can also be accomplished, more simply, if the parties agree to the grounds.

The District of Columbia has what is referred to as no-fault divorce. To obtain a divorce in Washington, D.C.: 1) the parties must have mutually and voluntary separated, without cohabitation, for at least six consecutive months; or 2) the parties must live separate and apart without cohabitation for at least one year. Living separate and apart can be accomplished while residing in the same home so long as the spouses sleep in separate beds and do not share food.

Grounds for obtaining an absolute divorce in Maryland are as follows:

Adultery: This ground is applicable where your spouse has had sexual relations with another person. In order to prove adultery a spouse needs to prove that their wife or husband were inclined to commit adultery and had opportunity to do so. For example, public displays of affection such as kissing, hugging and hand-holding would be evidence of inclination while the fact that your spouse entered a hotel with the person they had been affectionate with publicly would be evidence of opportunity.
Desertion, if: 1) the desertion has continued for 12 months without interruption prior to the filing of a divorce action; 2) the desertion is deliberate; and 3) there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
Voluntary Separation, if: 1) the parties voluntarily have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for 12 months without interruption prior to the filing of the divorce action; and 2) there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
Conviction for committing a felony or misdemeanor if before the filing of the divorce action the defendant-spouse has: 1) been sentenced to serve at least three years or an indeterminate sentence in a penal institution; and 2) served at least 12 months of the sentence.
Two year separation, when the parties have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for at least two years without interruption prior to filing for divorce.
Insanity, if: 1) the insane spouse has been confined in a mental institution or similar institution for at least three years prior to the filing of any divorce action; 2) at least two physicians who are competent in psychiatry testify that the insanity cannot be cured; and 3) one of the parties to the divorce has resided in Maryland for at least two years prior to the filing of the divorce action.
Cruelty of treatment toward the complaining party or a minor child of the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
Excessively vicious conduct toward the complaining party or a minor child of the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.

3. Limited Divorces in Maryland

Maryland also provides for limited divorces which are essentially legal separations rather than actual divorces which end a marriage. In other words, a limited divorce provides for parties to live separate and apart, however, the parties are still legally married. A limited divorce may benefit an individual or individuals who do not satisfy the grounds for obtaining an absolute divorce, need financial relief and are unable to settle their differences privately.

Divorce Attorneys Are Recommended To End A Marriage

There are plenty of reasons as to why you would need a divorce lawyer. Unfortunately, not every relationship is meant to last. When two people do decide to get a divorce, their emotions are running high. Everyone expects a relationship to last, but unforeseen events do happen. As a couple does enter into a divorce, there is a need to hire a divorce attorney. With both spouses giving a lot of effort into a marriage, divorce can be a very hard issue to digest.

Divorces do happen often and are becoming more common than ever before. Due to this, there are lawyers who specialize in divorce, child support, child visitation rights, alimony and other related cases. These lawyers are called family law attorneys. Anyone seeking a divorce, should contact one of these attorneys first. They have experience in the legal field of divorce and can guide you along the process. The divorce lawyers main purpose is to is his advise and assist their clients. They also make certain that they are not taken advantage of. By not having professional legal representation, some divorce clients may be giving up certain rights and certain entitlements. By hiring a experienced divorce attorney, the client can rest assured that they will not be deceived or betrayed in any way.

Advantages of Hiring a Divorce Attorney

Hiring a well respected, local, experienced, trustworthy attorney for a divorce will have many advantages. When you hire a divorce lawyer, you will gain an advocate and ally during the entire process of divorce. A divorce attorney will also understand the legalities and alternatives you may have have during the divorce. An attorney can advise and represent the client that they have legal rights to.

During a divorce, there will be tense moments between spouses. A lawyer will be able to sit down with the other side and mediate. Mediation will cut down on court and legal fees that are associated with divorce. If both spouses sat down without a divorce lawyer, there would never be any agreements and costs for litigation soar through the roof.A local attorney will also be able to guide your case through the local laws. Hiring a local lawyer will also give you an advantage, because they will know or be familiar the local clerks, judges and opposition attorneys. This can be great in understanding and predicting outcomes of your divorce case.

Times When A Marriage Needs Help

When a couple decides that their marriage is unhealthy and want out of the relationship, the next step is to file a divorce. When each party decides this, each spouse should seek legal representation through a divorce attorney. At this point, if one party is represented and the other isn’t, the situation could be taken advantage of by the party represented. In rare occurrences, spouses who have worked out every single issue between them and do not have any discrepancies, then a divorce attorney is not needed. These cases are very rare, as arguments become escalated and multiply leading up to divorce. In any other case, a divorce attorney would be highly advised during any divorce proceedings.

What Divorce Attorneys Charge For Their Services

For the majority of divorce attorneys, they offer their services based on an hourly rate and require a retainer fee. A Retainer fee is an up front cost for the client to obtain the service of the divorce attorney. Other fees may slightly differ from in court and out of court rates. Charging a flat fee for a client never works, as it is almost impossible to determine how long the divorce process will last.

Finding a reliable and trustworthy divorce lawyer is critical for a divorce. If you decide not to hire an attorney, be sure that you understand the legal procedures completely. It is never advised to represent yourself with no legal experience. A divorce attorney who is local, trusting and experienced is a great choice for clients going through a divorce.

Should You Leave? The Research on Divorce and Children You May Not Know About

I see one woman in my practice who is married to a guy who is, for lack of a better term, a total stinker. He’s negative, controlling, unreliable, thinks screaming is a wonderful way of communicating, and is not just un-nurturing to her, but also to the children. And, to add insult to injury, he doesn’t even make a decent living, so the couple is always hand-to-mouth, which yields, of course, more screaming. I’m truly hard-pressed to come up with too many good reasons for my client to stay in the marriage, but she is determined to stay until her last child leaves the house, because, as she insists, “divorce is just terrible for the children.”

And I’m not here to stand on a soapbox and tell you how wonderful divorce is, and how it’s always the answer. There is enough proof in the form of life experience and clinical research to show that divorce can yield major and persistent damage to its children.

But I am a believer that sometimes divorce is the answer–and I have reason to believe–again from my experience and from research–that your children will survive your divorce. There is considerable and valid research by big people in the field that support the hypothesis that children of divorce just might turn out alright.

A July 13, 2003 article in USA Today by Karen Peterson entitled “Kids of Divorced Parents Straddle a Divided World” presents both sides of the argument surrounding how children may be impacted by divorce. It begins by asserting the damage done to children of divorce, which I read, but found overly familiar. Go ahead and read that first part, if you’d like, even if it reinforces all your dreaded beliefs about what divorce can do to children. The article quotes important researchers in the field, and there’s a point for each of their sides.

What catches my eye more and more, however, is the research indicating that children of divorced parents may not, in fact, do more poorly than their counterparts with married parents, despite society’s long-held beliefs to the contrary. So it’s the article’s second part that I found more intriguing. Sociologist Constance Ahrons, PhD, author of The Good Divorce,notes that there is “an accumulating body of knowledge based on many studies that show only minor differences between children of divorce and those from intact families, and that the great majority of children with divorced parents reach adulthood to lead reasonably fulfilling lives….” And, published after the USA Today article’s publication, is a second book by Dr. Ahrons, We’re Still Family, where Dr. Ahrons forcefully asserts that the majority of children from divorced homes believed their parents’ divorce had positive outcomes–not only for their parents, but for themselves, too.

And Joseph Nowinski, well-known clinical psychologist and author, while noting that a significant minority of children of divorce will exhibit problem behaviors, also remarks on the research that finds that three years after divorce, “the divorced children were, as a group, more similar to children of intact families than different. In other words, divorce does not invariably lead to psychological, social, legal or academic problems. At the three-year mark, the majority of children of divorce appear to have weathered the storm, psychologically speaking, and are no different from their non-divorced peers.”(See his June 20, 2011 web article, “Does Divorce Inevitably Damage Children?”)

And what seems to be a given in research is that subjecting children to ongoing high-conflict marriages does not in any way assure them of a better outcome than if their parents divorced. In fact, pre-divorce conflict is a major indicator in how well children will do post-divorce. Alan Booth and Paul Amato, Penn State researchers on marriage, divorce, and their effects on children, write in their February 2001 article in the Journal of Marriage and Family that recent studies that “…divorce among high-conflict couples appears to have a relatively benign or even beneficial effect.”

That’s a pretty strong word, that ‘beneficial,’ but if you and your spouse are emotionally and/or verbally abusive [real physical abuse, it goes without saying, requires divorce and protection], Booth and Amato are telling you that your kids might very likely do better if you divorce. It’s something pretty serious to think about.

And, finally, any discussion on the results of marriage–not just among children of divorce, but among the partners, too–needs to contend with E. Maivis Hetherington’s For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered. Hetherington is professor emeritus at the department of psychology at University of Virginia. She’s authored a number of books on child development, but is best known for her work on the effects of divorce and remarriage on children’s development.

After nearly 30 years of research that studied almost 1,400 families and more than 2,500 children, Hetherington found that about from 75-80% of children from divorced homes are “coping reasonably well and functioning in the normal range” and are successfully able to adapt to their new lives. I don’t find the idea of looking at potential for difficulty in 20-25% of these children particularly appealing, but Hetherington reminds us that it’s compared to 10% of children in non-divorced families who experience who experience major behavioral or academic problems. It’s true that that’s double, but if you’re putting your children through trauma with your and your spouse’s fighting every day, it seems more than likely that the statistics must come at least very close to evening out.

I never want to sound like an advertisement for leaving a life-partner, and it’s clear that divorce’s damage to children can be long-term and profound. But I truly question my patient’s decision to stay with her ‘stinker’ of a husband, and I believe her support for her staying and suffering–that it saves the children–may not bolster her remaining as much as she would think.

Just For Women – How To Get A Divorce

Make Sure You’re Ready for Divorce

How do you know when it’s time to quit? That is a question many women ask themselves as they think about getting a divorce. It’s an important question because giving up on a marriage is a huge decision.

Here’s what I recommend. Unless your spouse is emotionally, verbally or physically abusive (in which case, hire a good therapist and get out as fast as you can), make sure you have tried everything to save your marriage.

Once you know you’ve done that and your marriage has not improved, then you probably do need to quit. Do this, and you will be able to look back and know that you did everything you could to avoid divorce.

But sometimes divorce is the right choice. So how do you start the process?

The First Steps: Finances

The first thing you need to do is realize that while marriage is about love, divorce is about money. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. This is one of the single most important financial decisions you will ever make.

So, go through your house and collect every piece of financial information you can get your hands on. Do this before you tell your spouse you’re planning to file for divorce. If you don’t know where this information is kept, find out and start studying it. This includes bank statements, retirement account statements, tax returns, and documentation of debt, such as credit cards and your mortgage.

If you don’t take this kind of financial inventory before you file for divorce, your spouse might make it difficult for you to get that information. If he tries to play hide-the-ball, your divorce will likely be more time-consuming and more expensive.

The second thing to do is remove from the house the really personal things that you love but that have no real “value”, like pictures from your side of the family and old family heirlooms, for example. Store them with a trusted friend. This way your soon-to-be-ex- husband will not be able to hold those objects over your head during divorce settlement negotiations.

The third action step is to get a private email account. You’re going to need to have confidential communications with others during your divorce so make sure only you have the password to that account. If you and your spouse share a family computer, consider the fact that there may be a key stroke program on the computer designed to watch your communication. You may want to have your computer examined, or you may just want to send all confidential emails from a different computer. Also, be aware that phone records and texts can be traced. Privacy is difficult to keep these days. And of course, be sure your use of social media sites does not give away any information!

The First Steps: Child Custody

If you have children, your first task is to learn about the child custody laws in your state. There is lots of information online, but beware, every state is a little different, so look at your state laws on child custody.

Next, you want to read up on the effect of divorce on children. Find some good books and study them carefully. Before you decide how you want to approach your divorce, you need to consider how your divorce will affect your children.

Do not discuss the pending divorce with your children. And don’t bad mouth your spouse to them. If you end up in a custody battle, a court will not look kindly on you if you put your children in the middle of the parental conflict. Remember, you are divorcing your spouse; your children are not divorcing their parents.

Gather Your Divorce Team

When you get a divorce you need to put together a group of people who will support you through the process. Your team will hold you accountable to your Divorce Vision (we’ll get to that in a minute) and help you make good decisions.

The purpose of your team is to provide emotional and practical support in this life transition. And that’s what divorce really is – a life transition.

It’s probably not best to include people on your team who will take sides. That’s not what you want or need. You need a team that will support where you’re going, not where you’ve been.

It might be your best friend, a therapist, a pastor or member of the clergy, or maybe a co-worker who understands your professional as well as personal goals. Whomever you choose, these should be people you trust or who have a duty to keep what you talk about with them confidential. But beware, in the legal process anyone can be subject to subpoena, so be careful what you share, and what you email.
Create Your Divorce Vision

This is a really important first step in your divorce process and here’s why: whatever we envision for ourselves in our life sets the tone and the pace and creates our reality. And when you get overwhelmed at points in your divorce, you can go back and read your Divorce Vision. It will help you remember that you have a choice about who you want to be in this process.

Don’t let the divorce process itself set the tone for the rest of your life. You take control of that part of it. You decide how you are going to behave, what you are going to be remembered for, and what your life is going to look like when this process is over.

Remember, divorce is not the end of your life. It is the end of your marriage. It is a transition in your life. You will have a big future ahead of you after your divorce is over. You might as well decide what life after divorce is going to look like.

After you have taken the steps outlined above, then it’s time to make an initial consultation appointment with an attorney, or the decision to go ahead and file for divorce yourself. If you decide to use a lawyer, interview several and see if you can find one with whom you have chemistry. Remember, you will be going through a pretty intense life transition with this person, so choose someone who you like, and feel you can trust.

Basic Divorce Procedures in Wisconsin

Below are the most frequently asked questions we see about Wisconsin divorce and basic Wisconsin divorce procedures.

HOW DO I BEGIN DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS?

To begin a divorce, you must file with the Court a Summons and Petition for Divorce (generally referred to as the divorce pleadings). Your spouse must then be served with this Summons and Petition for Divorce within 90 days after filing. You can file a motion with the Court asking that this 90-day deadline be extended; however, it would be up to the Judge assigned to your case to decide whether or not to extend this deadline. There are two ways you can serve the Summons and Petition for Divorce on your spouse: (1) your spouse can sign an Admission of Service, or (2) a process server or a sheriff’s deputy can personally serve the pleadings upon your spouse.

WHAT DO I DO IF I AM SERVED WITH DIVORCE PAPERS?

After you are served with divorce pleadings, you should consult with an attorney to explore your rights and your options. Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation. Whether you retain an attorney or not, you should file a written Response and Counterclaim within 20 days from the date you are served with the Summons and Petition for Divorce. This must be sent to the Court with a copy sent to your spouse or his/her attorney. If you do not file a written Response, the Court could enter a default judgment against you in the future.

If you also want the divorce, you should also file a Counterclaim for Divorce. This means that if your spouse changes his/her mind in the future and asks that the divorce be dismissed, the Court could deny that request and grant you a judgment of divorce instead based on your counterclaim.

WHAT IF I DON’T WANT A DIVORCE?

Wisconsin is a “no fault” divorce state. The only basis for a divorce in Wisconsin is that the Court finds that your marriage is irretrievably broken and that there is no likely possibility of reconciliation. Because it takes two willing people to have a marriage, the Court will most likely grant a judgment of divorce even if only one party wants the divorce as long as one party testifies that he or she feels that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that the marriage cannot be repaired.

HOW LONG DOES A DIVORCE TAKE?

There is a mandatory 120-day waiting period in Wisconsin during which your divorce cannot be finalized. Most divorce cases take between six months to one year to finalize. The time period can vary based on the County in which your divorce is filed and the issues involved in your case. The specific facts of your case will determine the timetable for the completion of your case.

HOW DO I SUPPORT MYSELF OR SEE MY CHILDREN WHILE THE DIVORCE IS PENDING?

In most cases, Temporary Orders are needed to determine where each party will live, when each party will see the children and how each party will be financially supported and pay bills. These Temporary Orders are Court Orders and can be determined by the Court’s decision or upon an agreement (called a Stipulation) between the parties. These Temporary Orders remain in effect during the time it takes to complete your divorce case.

Temporary Orders could cover the issues of temporary custody, placement, support, maintenance, temporary use of personal property and/or bank accounts, temporary use of the marital residence, and temporary allocation of debts. While these orders are temporary and should have no bearing on the final outcome of your divorce, in reality, many courts continue temporary orders as permanent orders if they are appropriate in your case, especially orders regarding custody and placement of your children.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE TEMPORARY ORDERS?

To request Temporary Orders, you must file an Order to Show Cause for Temporary Orders and an Affidavit for Temporary Orders. These documents compel your spouse’s appearance at a first or temporary hearing which is almost always scheduled before a court commissioner rather than a judge. This temporary hearing is usually scheduled within three to six weeks of the date you request a hearing depending on the County in which your case in pending.

Prior to the hearing, you and your spouse can negotiate terms of a Temporary Stipulation. These stipulated orders are done without the need for you to appear in Court and, when filed with the Court, carry the same legal protection as if you personally appeared in Court.

WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE THE COURT COMMISSIONER’S DECISION?

If you do not agree with the court commissioner’s Orders at this first or temporary hearing or any other hearing before a court commissioner, you may request a Hearing De Novo before the judge assigned to your case. A Hearing De Novo is a hearing where the judge hears the matter as if it had not been heard before and is not supposed to give any deference to the court commissioner’s decision. A Hearing De Novo must be scheduled promptly after the hearing before the court commissioner’s (7 – 15 days in most counties).

WHAT IF MY SPOUSE LEAVES ME FOR SOMEONE ELSE OR IS LIVING WITH SOMEONE ELSE?

Because Wisconsin is a “no-fault” divorce state, one party’s infidelity is irrelevant in most cases. The court cannot consider this fact in dividing property, awarding maintenance, setting support or other financial matters. It can impact on custody and placement issues, however, if the significant other has a negative or harmful impact on the minor children.

HOW ARE PROPERTY AND DEBT DIVISION, SUPPORT, CUSTODY AND PLACEMENT DETERMINED AT THE END OF MY DIVORCE CASE?

There are statutory factors that the court must follow when making decisions regarding these issues in your case set forth in Chapter 767 of the Wisconsin Statutes. Specifically, the presumption is for an equal division of property and debt. Child support is pursuant a specific formula set forth in the statutes. And, custody and placement decisions are based on a “best interest of the child” standard. However, there are exceptions to all of these rules and the court must follow the statutes when making any decisions.

WHAT OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE TO AVOID A TRIAL IN MY DIVORCE CASE?

Your attorney should suggest options to the successful resolution of the issues in your divorce without the need for a court trial. For example, settlement negotiations with the parties and the attorneys, mediation and arbitration are all alternative measures that are common in divorce cases to help resolve conflicts.

Contested Divorce

In America today, marriage is common, however divorce is very common as well. Some factors that help to prevent divorce are: religious beliefs, a college education, a good example from the parents, and even waiting until the age 25 to marry. Statistics show that those who have a college education are less prone to divorce by 13 percent. In the case of individuals who have the example of happily married parents, the risk of divorce for them is less by 14 percent. If a person has strong religious beliefs, this is shown to decrease the risk of divorce by 14 percent. If a person waits until they have reached or surpassed the age of 25, studies show that the risk of divorce is reduced by 24 percent in their case.

Even with all of these statistics that help to prevent divorce, the truth is that it is still quite common. Almost 50 percent of marriages end up in divorce. First marriages that end up in divorce last an average of 8 years, and 60 percent of all divorces involve individuals who are 25 to 39 years of age. Unfortunately there are other people who are affected by divorce as well; more than one million children are affected by divorce every year. If a teenaged girl grew up in a home with one parent, she is twice as likely to have a child outside of wedlock as a teenaged girl who grew up with both parents. Children who were raised with only one parent are less likely to marry, and more prone to divorce.

Divorce in the United States is common, as can be shown from various statistics. There are many reasons why a couple will get married, these reasons may include that it may be a good idea, they are having a child together and would prefer to raise it together. In some less common cases a marriage can be arranged, but the most common reason for marriage can be agreed upon as love. Inversely, there are many reasons for divorce. These reasons may include a loss of interest or common ground, infidelity, or in some cases the couple may fall out of love. Whatever the reason for it may be, divorce always a possibility and sometimes unavoidable. Irreconcilable differences are common reasons for divorce.

When a divorce occurs, there are most often, many assets, and personal property to be divided between the two parties, and excluding the case of a prenuptial agreement, deciding who will receive which property is usually a very difficult task. When a couple cannot agree on the elements of their separation, it is called a contested divorce. The term contested divorce usually means one of two things. When one party does not wish for the divorce to happen, and argues that the other party does not have valid grounds for divorce, and attempts to prevent the divorce from occurring, this is one case of contested divorce. The other form of contested divorce involves the divorce process, both parties wish for divorce, however, for whatever reason, they cannot come to an agreement on various issues such as property division, child custody, and child and spousal support payments.

If the divorce case becomes contested because of a lack of agreement on elements of separation, the divorce court may have a hearing with both spouses to determine temporary orders. A contested divorce case can take a very long time to be finalized, during this time, support payments must be made, bills must be paid and property must be maintained. The divorce court will see a limited amount of evidence in order to temporarily decide who will be responsible for what, so that nothing is neglected during this long process.

Divorce Mediation or Divorce Litigation – Which Will Work Best for You?

1. What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a voluntary, confidential and structured process in which spouses who are seeking divorce come together in a safe, comfortable setting and communicate with the help of a Mediator “a trained neutral”. Discussions take place in an environment that fosters open communication and covers all the necessary issues that need to be addressed so that they (the parties) can reach a self-made, forward looking agreement that will be accepted by the Court.

2. What is Divorce Litigation?
Divorce litigation is a legal process in which spouses seeking divorce choose their own individual Attorneys to represent them in their divorce proceedings. All communications, correspondence and exchange of information takes place between the Attorneys. Divorce litigation involves an involved discovery process, an exchange of financial information and other mandatory disclosure requirements, interrogatories, request for production of documents, depositions, case management conferences, motions if applicable, pre-trial conferences and if necessary, trial.

3. How long does the process of Divorce Mediation take as compared to Divorce Litigation?
Divorce mediation often requires between 3-5 (2) hour long mediation sessions that are then followed by the completion of the necessary court required paperwork (this can be completed by the Mediator, so long as he/she is also an Attorney. The timetable for divorce mediation is set by the parties (the soon to be ex-spouses). Divorce litigation can take up to 1 year for the parties to be given a hearing date with the Court; this is due in large part to the necessary exchange of information, documentation and other mandatory disclosure materials. Given that the correspondence is between attorneys and the Court is involved, the process can take a long time; the more professionals involved, the longer it will take. The timetable for divorce litigation is set by the court.

4. Who are the decision makers in Divorce Mediation and Divorce Litigation?
In Divorce Mediation, the parties are the decision makers. It is the parties (the spouses) who communicate with the help of the Mediator and reach self made agreements that work for them as individuals and as a family unit going forward. The parties also determine how quickly they would like the mediation process to proceed. In Divorce Litigation, the Judge is the decision maker and will hear the matter and make final decisions based on what he or she sees as fair and equitable and it is the Court who determines the timetable the parties will follow and how quickly the matter will be heard.

5. What is the cost of Divorce Mediation as compared with Divorce Litigation?
Divorce Mediation sessions typically cost $200-$400 dollars per (2) hour mediation session. The cost of preparing the paperwork necessary to present to the court can cost between $1500 and $2500. In total, to proceed with your divorce through the mediation process, you are looking at a total of generally less than $5,000. Divorce Litigation typically costs each party (each spouse) an average total cost of between $10,000-$20,000 maybe more depending on the complexities of your situation and this is inclusive of an on average retainer amount required of $5,000.

6. How does Divorce Mediation and Divorce Litigation differ when it comes to kids being involved?
In Divorce Mediation, the parties (spouses) determine what is in the best interest of the children and thus discussions take place and agreements are reached as to custody (legal and physical), parenting schedules, children expense accounts, and child support (to the extent allowed by law). In Divorce Litigation, if custody is contested, a court will likely appoint a guardian ad litem who will make determinations as to the best interest of your children. Sometimes, the courts insist on psychological testing of the children and other family members be performed.

7. What is the emotional impact of Divorce Mediation as compared with Divorce Litigation on everyone involved?
Divorce Mediation allows the parties to maintain control over the outcome of their situation. It is they, who discuss each issue and they who determine what is or is not fair, what can be traded off, and how to proceed going forward. Divorce Mediation enables dignity to remain intact and preserve relationships when needed, especially when children are involved. Mediation is the most pleasant of all the processes available to go through when proceeding with a divorce. In Divorce litigation, parties often feel anxious, frustrated and powerless. They have put their future in the hands of the attorneys and the court system and as a result, the outcome/results decided for them will leave them feeling strong feelings of resentment.

Muslim Iranian Divorce in U.S. Courts

The Family Law in Iran was codified in 1928 and 1935 as part of the Iranian Civil Code. The law set a legal age requirement for marriage, prohibiting the marriage of girls under 13 and requiring court permission for the marriage of those under 15. In 1931, a separate legislation, known as the Marriage Law (qanun-I izdivaj) was enacted; it made marriage subject to state provisions and required the registration of all marriages and divorces in civil registrars. The law of 1931 expanded the grounds on which women could initiate divorce proceedings and required such actions to be brought before civil courts rather than Islamic sharia courts.

In 1967, the Family Protection Law (qanun-I himaya-I khanivada) was enacted. This law was considered a departure from the traditional Islamic sharia. It abolished the husband’s rights to extra-judicial divorce and polygamy, and increased the age of marriage to 15 for females and 18 for males. The law established special religious tribunals, headed by judges trained in modern jurisprudence. This law was criticized by Muslim clergy, calling it un-Islamic, and was regarded in violation of Islamic shria principles.

In 1975, the Family Protection Law was replaced by another law carrying the same title. This law increased the minimum age of marriage from 15 to 18 for females and from 18 to 20 for males, and provided the courts with discretionary power to decide cases involving child custody, disregarding Islamic sharia provisions.

Following the Iranian revolution or 1979 under Ayatollah Khomeini (1902-1989), the Family Protection Law was annulled and replaced by the Special Civil Court Act. The new law was entirely enacted in compliance with the Shiite law of ithnai Ashar (Twelvers), the courts are empowered to deal with a whole range of family issues, including divorce. According to the new law, legal marriage for girls plummeted to nine; 15 for boys, and members of the Iranian society were strictly segregated along gender lines. Women were forced to put hijab and were not allowed to appear in public with a man who was not a husband or a direct relation such as brother, father, or son. Women could be stoned to death for adultery, which incidentally, includes being raped. But the reformists under former president, Khatami, allowed single women to study abroad and raised the legal age for marriage from nine to 13 for girls. However, a woman’s testimony in Iran is worth half that of a man in court and in the case of blood money that a murderer’s family is obliged to pay to the family of the victim, females are estimated at half the value of a male.

In mid 2007, the government of Ahmadi Najad began enforcing restrictive laws; women wearing too much make-up and not enough scarf were arrested; they were first banned from attending the country’s popular soccer matches held in public stadiums, but later, under pressure, the president allowed women to attend the games on the ground that their presence would be “morally uplifting” and make the men behave better.

The new law requires marriage and divorce to be registered with the courts; the husband has unconditional right to divorce his wife for which he needs not to give any reason and his wife is almost certain to lose custody of her children. The new law allows the wife to divorce her husband under khul’, and even then she would have to present to the court a power of attorney from the husband allowing her to divorce herself on behalf of her husband. A woman is allowed to seek divorce if her husband was insane, impotent or infertile, absent from home without reason, imprisoned, or unable to support his wife. A woman seeking divorce in Iran must provide the court with supporting evidence to get a divorce decree.

Iranian Muslim couples faced with a divorce situation in the United States, see themselves in a dual process of having to go through civil as well as religious divorce, especially for a Muslim woman; she is prohibited by Islamic sharia from marrying a non-Muslim man unless he converts. Divorced Muslim men and women must obtain an additional religious divorce decree from Muslim authorities should he or she decides to remarry in compliance with sharia; civil divorce alone is not recognized in Islam. Under Islamic sharia, a Muslim woman or man is still considered married even though she or he has obtained a civil divorce. Failure to obtain an Islamic divorce before remarrying, the woman would be considered adulterous and might risk her life if she travels to a country where stoning for adultery is still in place, such as Pakistan, Iran, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia.

American Muslim men with Iranian passports may choose to go back to Iran and obtain a fast track divorce in that country. They get divorce decree by stating three times, “I divorce my wife” in the presence of two male witnesses, show proof of the “mahr” payment, record the divorce in Iran, authenticate the documents, return back to the U.S. and seek recognition of the Iranian divorce in a state court. Divorce obtained in Iran is less expensive to the husband; women get the amount of “mahr” as stipulated in the marriage contract, usually less than what a U.S court may rule on, and the divorce is obtained in a short time, without having to hire an attorney. Islamic divorce does not allow women to receive compensation other than the amount of “mahr” she and her family agreed upon before her marriage.

State courts in the U.S. deal with Islamic divorce obtained overseas on the basis of “comity”, a discretionary doctrine that governs the recognition of divorce rendered by the courts of a foreign country. Although occasionally, courts in England and the United States use the term “international comity” in the meaning of general international law, the more accepted concept of this doctrine defines it as rules of courtesy or goodwill which states observe in their mutual relations without any sense of legal obligations under international law. The desire for a Muslim man to obtain divorce from Iran and have it recognized and enforced in the United States, is generally entitled to recognition if it was valid and effective in Iran, and that Iran was the residence or domicile of both parties or at least one party. In other cases, recognition in the United States of a divorce obtained in Iran will depend on the way the divorce was obtained by mail, by default, by phone, or upon the appearance of both parties. A divorce obtained in Iran should not violate U.S. public policy and cannot be “repugnant” to major principles of U.S. law. State courts have the sole competent to recognize or to deny recognition of a divorce decree obtained in Iran.

Although divorce recognition within the United States is dependent on the concept of domicile, an Iranian divorce may be recognized where both parties appear in the action, even in the absence of domicile. In New Hampshire, a Muslim husband secured a Lebanese divorce, based on Islamic sharia by declaring that he pronounced the divorce of his wife by saying three times “I divorce you” in her presence and by going to Lebanon to consult an attorney and sign divorce papers. The New Hampshire family court refused to recognize the Lebanese ex parte divorce. The court reasoned that the wife would be forced to bear the burdensome cost of an ex parte divorce obtained in a foreign nation where neither party is domiciled.

DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

Why Hiring a Divorce Attorney Is A Good Idea

As a marriage starts out in euphoria, sometimes it doesn’t last and soon enters into a divorce. Around half of all marriages will fall apart and eventually file for divorce. The next step that should be considered is either obtaining a divorce attorney or attempting to file all the legal documents by yourself. There should be some careful consideration before a decision is made.

No one goes into a marriage thinking they will eventually file for a divorce. Dismally in our society, divorces have become more common and accepting than generations before. Either way, the whole family is hurt by a divorce. Emotions and strengths of character are tested during the roller coaster ride of a divorce. By having emotions and feelings being hit so hard, a person going through a divorce should not have to deal with the legal issues pertaining to their case. This era in one’s life should not be thought lightly and a divorce attorney should be hired to ease the burden. Even if you are contemplating hiring a divorce attorney, it should be considered that even lawyers will hire and delegate their own divorces to other attorneys.

Advantages When Hiring a Divorce Attorney

1. Experience- Many people going through a divorce, do not have the slightest clue of the legal proceedings. A divorce attorney on the other hand will know exactly what and when to proceed with filings. Having a legal professional that has expertise in family law will be an advantage to your side. They will be able to educate and inform their clients on the particulars of divorce laws that are unique to your locality. Family law specialists will be able to offer their insight on what the outcome of the divorce will yield. There is no perfect divorce equation, but having the experience, a divorce lawyer can have a good guess on what is going to happen.

2. Local Experience- Hiring a local attorney is much better than hiring a high profile attorney that is not located in your jurisdiction. Not only will they will understand the local laws, but they will have a good impression on other lawyers, court clerks and judges who will be running your case. This is an advantage as the lawyer can predict actions of judges and anticipate other divorce attorneys moves.

3. No Emotional Bond- From the emotional toll before and during your divorce proceedings, you will become attached to certain items and intangible aspects through the divorce. A divorce attorney will not have the emotional bond to a court case that a person going through the divorce will have. There is no doubt that the legal representative will have your best interest, but he or she will not make irrational decisions based on emotions. They will rather base decisions upon fair compensation and legal practices. If a person is going through a divorce with children, these emotions are even higher, having another reason to hire a family law specialist.

4. Efficient- If a person is trying to complete their own divorce, it will take a lot of research, time and effort to understand the legal filing process, terms and procedures. If that same person is working and taking care of kids, it’s nearly impossible to complete efficiently. When hiring a divorce attorney, these tasks will be handled swiftly and professionally by your divorce lawyer.

5. Expertise- By working with the same type of clients and dealing with the legal system, a divorce lawyer has built an expertise in the family law field. Other attorneys may practice different entities of the legal system, but an attorney who deals strictly with family law and divorce, will have built their reputation and expertise in that field. Whenever hiring an attorney, always make sure they have expertise or credentials showing their skills in their field of practice.

EzineArticles – Expert Authors Sharing Their Best Original Articles Lexor Emman Expert Author | 123 Articles Joined: June 7, 2010 Philippines

Marriage can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a person’s life, but to file for divorce can be daunting and detrimental. It causes tension between both parties and their families. It can take a major toll on all individuals involved and have effect on each lifestyle. And when there are children involved, it can have a major effect on them physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Divorce is the termination of a union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds and matrimony between the parties. The legal process for divorce may also involve issues of spousal support, child custody and support, distribution of property and division of debt. When children are involved in divorce, just that issue alone can take a long process to resolve. At times, the result of divorce places a burden on the children who can also result in the decline of school work and the lack of interest and enthusiasm in everyday activities. When this happens, divorce support and divorce advice could also come from a school counselor amongst other qualified professionals. To talk about divorce with a professional can help them cope, because the effects of divorce can be unhealthy, emotionally and psychologically. They may appear or become distant to one or both parents. Because of the effects of divorce has on children can also place an emotional guilt on the parents.

File For Divorce- About Divorce

No one really knows what the cause of filing for a divorce may be. According to an annual study done in the U.S. by consultant Grant Thorton, estimates that the proximal causes of divorce based on surveys of matrimonial lawyers posits adultery; extramarital sex, and infidelity as being 27% of the reason of divorce. Domestic violence was 17%, midlife crisis was 13%, addictions such as alcoholism and gambling was 6% and workaholism was also 6%. The divorce rates, or statistics in the U.S., is said to be from the early age onset of people deciding to become married. It is also surmised that because one is not mature enough to understand what the married life is about when marrying at a young age, the divorce rates in the U.S. will continue to increase.

When going through a divorce, divorce support is strongly advised. This can be from family members or close family friends, who one could talk to. Also, a third party such as a lawyer is great to intervene to help both parties come to an agreement for the children, if such are involved. It is not easy discussing to children about divorce, but more importantly they need to know why their parents have come to this final decision. Divorce advice may be also beneficial in that it may also help aid the children with coping with the divorce.