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Bethesda MD Family Law Blog

Is alternative dispute resolution an option in a high conflict divorce?

Even when divorce is the best option for a couple, it is still emotionally and financially difficult in many cases. There are often advantages in using alternative dispute resolution, but Maryland couples who are in high conflict may think the courtroom is their only option. However, ADR is often a great approach for couples with difficulty agreeing on how to separate.   

An article in Divorce Magazine.com addresses the myth that ADR is only an option for amicable couples. While it is tempting to view mediation as open only to parties who are on friendly terms, the opposite is true. Litigation expenses can skyrocket in a high conflict divorce. Furthermore, in divorce proceedings, a judge determines the final terms. In a hostile separation, those terms may be unlikely to be followed.

Is alternative dispute resolution an option in a high conflict divorce?

Even when divorce is the best option for a couple, it is still emotionally and financially difficult in many cases. There are often advantages in using alternative dispute resolution, but Maryland couples who are in high conflict may think the courtroom is their only option. However, ADR is often a great approach for couples with difficulty agreeing on how to separate.

An article in Divorce Magazine.com addresses the myth that ADR is only an option for amicable couples. While it is tempting to view mediation as open only to parties who are on friendly terms, the opposite is true. Litigation expenses can skyrocket in a high conflict divorce. Furthermore, in divorce proceedings, a judge determines the final terms. In a hostile separation, those terms may be unlikely to be followed.

Relocating with your child after divorce

When a marriage falls apart, every couple has a different experience with regard to the divorce process. For some, relocation is another issue to deal with in the wake of a divorce. For example, one spouse may retain the family home while another has to look for a new place to live. Or, someone may want to pursue new opportunities now that they are no longer with their spouse, such as a job that is located in another city or even across the country. However, there are a number of issues to take into consideration if you plan on moving after your divorce, especially if you will be bringing a child with you.

First of all, you should carefully review the ins and outs of parental relocation and make sure that you live up to your obligations with respect to the child’s other parent. Next, it may be helpful to approach the move from your child’s point of view and explain some of the reasons behind your decision to relocate. Sometimes, kids are unhappy with relocation because they will have to leave behind friends and they will not be able to visit with relatives as often, but it may be very helpful for you to answer questions and reassure them.

Going through a high-asset divorce at an older age

There are a variety of factors to consider when it comes to splitting up with your spouse, such as the financial impact and how this move may affect your kids (and even your grandchildren). The emotional toll of divorce can be tough, and the financial impact of a divorce should not be overlooked, either—especially for those who have a high net worth. Moreover, more and more people are ending their marriages at an older age, which can bring up additional concerns. However, by taking the correct approach to your divorce, a brighter future may be around the corner.

Sometimes, people feel so overwhelmed by the various stressors they may have to deal with during the divorce process and simply decide to stay in the marriage. For example, they worry about the financial toll of divorce and how their assets may be divided by the court. Moreover, they may worry that various age-related issues they are dealing with, such as health concerns, will make it especially hard for them to deal with divorce at this time.

Do you need a forensic accountant on your legal team?

If you and your spouse are a high-asset Maryland couple preparing for a divorce, you may begin to wonder if (s)he is trying to hide marital assets from you so as to better his or her financial position when it comes time to construct the property settlement agreement.

Unfortunately, as FindLaw explains, vindictive and/or greedy spouses have attempted to hide assets for decades when it came time to divorce. Today’s technology, however, puts a new twist on this old ploy. Thanks to the internet and people’s access to it via computer, laptop, tablet, cellphone, etc., asset-hiding spouses can carry out their endeavors far more easily and effectively than they could in the past. In fact, you and your divorce attorney may need to hire a forensic accountant in order to find these assets.

What is a "guardian of the property?"

Ask people in Rockville to define "adult guardianship," and you are likely to get a general consensus that the topic applies only to those cases where a disabled adult needs constant supervision over every facet of their life. In reality, however, there are different forms of guardianship. The state of Maryland does not take the decision to hand someone's decision-making powers over to another lightly. Instead, if such action is warranted, it prefers to make its extent as limited as possible. Because of this, the most common form of adult guardianship assigned by state courts is "guardian of the property." 

If you have a loved who, because of disability, mental health struggles, incapacitation or alcohol and/or substance abuse issues, cannot adequately manage his or her life, that does not necessarily mean they need a guardian to direct everything that they do. Rather, they may simply need assistance in protecting whatever resources they have available to them. In such a case, the court may appoint one to as guardian of the property. According to the Maryland Attorney General's office, this enables the guardian to perform finance-related functions such as: 

  • Buying and selling property
  • Retaining assets
  • Borrowing money
  • Paying bills
  • Negotiating with creditors

Student loans and your divorce

If you are like most people in Maryland who have gone to college, you graduated with not just a diploma but also with some student loan debt. If you are now facing a divorce and still owe on your student loans, you might assume that you will be forced to repay these loans on your own. On the flip side, if your spouse is the person with the student loan debt, you might assume that you will not have to be responsible for the debt after your divorce.

Your assumptions in either scenario may actually be incorrect. As explained by Student Loan Hero, there are many factors that go into determining which spouse may end up having to repay student loan debt after a divorce. For any student loan debt incurred before a marriage, the individual who took out the loans is commonly the person who must continue to repay those loans after a divorce.

How are guardians selected?

You may know an adult in Maryland, perhaps a member of your family, who is not competent to make decisions for himself or herself due to disability or incapacitation. The condition may have been present since childhood, or it may have occurred as an adult. It may be age-related or the result of head trauma or substance abuse. Whatever the circumstance, the court has to put legal matters pertaining to this individual into the hands of a guardian who makes decisions on his or her behalf in regard to health, education and finances. The legal term for an individual with a guardian managing his or her affairs is a "ward." 

What goes into choosing a guardian for an adult ward? According to FindLaw, the court takes several different factors into consideration. Where available, one of the most important considerations is the ward's wishes as expressed in a power of attorney or another legal document before the incapacitation took place. If no such document exists, the court prefers to choose a guardian from among the ward's family members or close associates, with parents and spouses highly favored. The court considers the candidate's ability to fulfill the responsibilities and duties involved in becoming a guardian, along with the following attributes:

  • Physical capacity
  • History
  • Character
  • Age (18 or older)

Does being rich increase your odds of divorce?

The leading cause of stress in Maryland relationships is money, so it would seem to follow that the better off financially you are, the less likely you are to divorce. However, according to CNBC, experts observe that when an economic downturn occurs and couples are more likely to have financial struggles, the divorce rate decreases, only to rise again once the economy is on the upswing. Due to the financial aspects of divorce, couples are unwilling to add a destabilizing factor to an already uncertain economic situation, but once the financial situation improves, couples may find themselves on firmer financial footing, and divorce becomes a viable option.

More money does not necessarily equal fewer problems within the domestic sphere. Having a high income does not preclude you from also having expenses, and some couples find themselves strapped for cash despite a high income, which can put a strain on the relationship. Another possible source of strain is the long hours and travel often required of a high-income job that can cut down on the earner's time spent at home with the family. 

When are your marital assets valued?

A great deal of time can lapse from the moment you and your spouse choose to separate to the date you are actually granted a divorce. Unresolved disputes, multiple complex issues to work through and even the availability of the court may cause your proceedings to be drawn out for months or even years. During that time, both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will no doubt begin to take steps towards moving on with your lives in Rockville. What happens, then, to the value of your marital assets during that time? 

Say that your spouse started their own business while you were married. In the time during which you were working through your separation and divorce proceedings, the value of the business increases significantly. Your spouse may argue that it was only after you had separated that the business began to take off, and as such, your interest in it should be determined off of what the company was worth at the time or your separation rather than its current value. 

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