Mutual Consent in Maryland doesn’t need to be a Mystery

Up until 2015, Marylanders looking for an absolute divorce could only choose from a small number of immediate divorce conditions or separate for at least 12 months before filing. Mutual consent divorce is a new third option that forgoes the year of waiting and allows for immediate filing.

Who Qualifies for a Mutual Consent Divorce in Maryland?

Maryland couples who do not share a minor child can file for mutual consent divorce. If you have minor children from previous relationships, you can still file for a mutual consent divorce. Once you decide to divorce, you must make a separation agreement that resolves the division of all marital property, pensions and alimony (whether by a mutual waiver or specific amounts and durations). Both parties must sign the document and file it with the Court, along with their complaint based on mutual consent. The Court will set a hearing date that both parties must attend.

How is Mutual Consent Divorce a Better Option?

Previously, couples who didn’t share children needed to maintain two residences for at least a year before filing for divorce. The process could be costly and impractical, especially since the couple already discussed their issues and decided to formally divorce. With mutual consent divorce, you can cohabitate throughout the divorce period, and even afterwards, without it ever entering into the legal equation. Mutual consent divorce gives you more freedom and can save you a lot of financial stress.

Are There Any Bumps in the Road?

Mutual consent divorce might sound too simple to be true. While the process can be smooth, the division of marital property and alimony agreement can add a lot of time to the equation. Be sure to use an attorney you trust and carefully assess all shared property and assets before agreeing, even verbally, to anything. If you are ready to get the mutual consent divorce process started, Lebovitz Law is here to help. Contact us today at (410) 828-0680.

How to get custody of child when other parent leaves the state with the child

All states in the United States of America follow the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Each state has its own version of this law codified in its own statutes.

In the State of Maryland,  this act is found in Family Law Article  § 9.5-201, initial state child custody law. This law provides that

(a) Except as otherwise provided in § 9.5-204 of this subtitle, a court of this State has jurisdiction to make an initial child custody determination only if:

(1) this State is the home state of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding, or was the home state of the child within 6 months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this State but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in this State;

(2) a court of another state does not have jurisdiction under item (1) of this subsection, or a court of the home state of the child has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that this State is the more appropriate forum under § 9.5-207 or § 9.5-208 of this subtitle.

In essence, if you have had primary physical custody of your child/children for more than 6 months prior to the other parent taking the child/children out of the current state, then you have the right to file for custody in your current state to ultimately attempt to force the other parent to return the child. If the other parent attempts to file for custody in another state, you first must file in your home state and then hire an attorney in the other state to file a motion under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to have the custody case in the other state dismissed. Or in the alternative to request a conference between your home state and the other state to determine which state has jurisdiction over the custody of your child/children.

This situation can be stressful and it is strongly advised to contact an attorney to help you navigate through this process.

New Maryland No Fault Divorce Law effective October 1, 2011



Maryland currently has two “no-fault”


grounds for an absolute divorce: a mutual and


voluntary separation of one year, or a separation


of two years. As of October 1, 2011, the new


law eliminates voluntary separation as a ground


for absolute divorce and shortens the


period the parties must be living separate and apart


from two years to one year.


This is a major change in Maryland Divorce Law. It shortens


the time a spouse, who does not have an


agreement to separate or a fault ground for


divorce, has to wait for a divorce to one year


down from two years.


Maryland’s  no fault ground requires


that there be no sexual relations during the one


year separation and that both spouses live in separate


residences for the entire year.




The Failing Foster Care System

Foster care is the temporary placement of children because of abuse, neglect, family problems, or dependency.

A child may be placed because their home is no longer safe, their parents or guardians are no longer able to provide proper care, or the child no longer has a parent or guardian to care for them. The primary goal of foster care is to return the child to its home, if possible.

There are more than 500,000 children living in foster care in the United States.

Foster care is intended to be a temporary solution for children who sufer from abuse or neglect, no longer have a parent or family capable of taking care of them, or need a temporary home. Foster homes are supposed to be a safe but temporary home for the child, with the long-term goal of fnding a permanent family and home for the child.

For more information: check out
Child Injury Laws Blog
Foster Care System Failing To Protect Those Who Need It The Most
Posted by Jonathan Rosenfeld on November 29, 2010

Grandparent Visitation in Maryland

On Wednesday, June 2, 2010, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals decision in Brandenburg v. LaBarre (2010 WL 2179774 (MD.App.)) reversed a finding of the Circuit Court of Maryland for Anne Arundel County of exceptional circumstances for grandparent visitation, holding that “The [grandparents] bore the ultimate burden of showing harm and they failed to present the court with facts from which it could draw a reasonable inference of significant deleterious effect.”  Contact, closeness of relationship, etc are no longer enough–if a grandparent wants visitation, s/he must show the grandchildren are suffering actual harm by not seeing them.  This makes grandparent visitation very difficult as its virtually impossible to show actual harm if the grandparents can’t have access to the grandchildren.

This Court created a new test in Koshko v. Haining, 398 Md. 404, 921 A.2d 171 (2007) that a threshold showing of either parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances is required before grandparental visitation can be ordered. In Bradenburg, this court stated that

The trial court was not permitted to draw an inference from the mere amount of time the children once had spent with the grandparents and the generally loving and bonded relationship they had had with them that the cessation of contact between the appellees and the children had harmed the children. The LaBarres bore the ultimate burden of showing harm and they failed to present the court with facts from which it could draw a reasonable inference of significant deleterious effect.

This court further considered the type of evidence of harm that grandparents might present to satisfy the exceptional circumstances threshold, concluding that “[e]xpert testimony may be desirable and, frequently, may be necessary” to meet the burden imposed in Koshko. Id. at 85, 972 A.2d 905.

The current case law in Maryland confirms that parents have a constitutional right to raise their children as they see fit. This presumption is very difficult to overcome.

Now, grandparent’s visitation rights are in jeopardy. One result from this decision will be that grandchildren will be forced to testify in court about how sad and upset they are about not seeing their grandparents anymore as the best way for grandparents to make a case. Grandparents will need to reconcile with their children and not openly criticize their children if they desire to have a relationship with their grandchildren.

Custody litigation in general and specifically grandparent visitation cases can be difficult and affect the lives of all involved. They take many months to years to litigate and can be very costly to pursue. To overcome the current threshold of exceptional circumstances, “expert” testimony will be required increasing the already high costs to all parties involved in this type of litigation.

Premarital, Prenuptial and Antenuptial Agrements

Premarital, Prenuptial or antenuptial agreements are synonymous. These agreements refer to a contract between two persons planning to marry which governs the rights and liabilities of the parties, such as terms of possession of assets, debts, treatment of future earnings, control of property of each and potential division in case of divorce or the death of one spouse. They may even determine whether spousal maintenance (alimony) is paid. These agreements are fairly common and increasing in popularity as more people are getting married later for the first time or if either or both parties have substantial assets, children from a prior marriage, potential inheritances, high incomes, or have been “taken” by a prior spouse.
Custody and/or child support issues are not affected since such determinations must be made based on a best interests of the child standard and subject to court review.
A premarital agreement acts as a safeguard for both you and your spouse-to-be. It protects your assets and may prevent expensive and acrimonious litigation if a divorce should occur by defining the rights and responsibilities of the parties in advance. With today’s divorce rate hovering around 50%, a prenuptial agreement may be one of the most prudent decisions in your life. This is particularly true for business owners who may wish to preserve what they have worked so hard to build.
Prenuptial Agreements are valid in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It doesn’t matter whether the state is a community property state or an equitable distribution state.
A Postnuptial Property Agreement is a contract between the spouses after marriage with the intent to define and specify the respective and collective rights of the parties in the separate and joint property of the parties.