Family law is one of the most emotionally charged aspects of the legal system. At its core, marriage is a contract between two people. When the marriage is coming to an end, having a lawyer that can address the complexities of the marriage contract and all of its subsequent effects, be a powerful voice in the courtroom on behalf of her client, and understand the emotional trauma associated with the process is invaluable.

Do I Need an Attorney for a Divorce?

In the state of Maryland, there are two types of divorces – limited and absolute. Absolute divorce is the most common type, where there are legal grounds for separation. These may include desertion, 12 months of separation, abuse or cruelty, adultery, criminal convictions, or insanity. Most cases involve 12 months of continuous separation. Limited divorces are for couples who may not meet any of the legal grounds for separation. Even if they are not present for mediation or arbitration, attorneys create the divorce paperwork, oversee the division of assets, and attend to child custody agreements. Having an attorney’s advice throughout the divorce process, especially when there are a lot of assets (or debts) to divide, or if children are involved can prove essential to getting your desired outcome.

What is a Mutual Consent Divorce?

Relatively new in the state of Maryland is the “Mutual Consent” divorce. Instituted in 2015, a couple who do not have children, who have a signed, written decree for the division of property and any alimony that neither contests, and who appear at the uncontested divorce hearing may be granted a mutual consent divorce. This type of divorce does not require the couple to be separated for any amount of time before it is granted. However, couples who have children are not eligible, even if they have a written agreement for property, alimony, and child support.

How is Custody Determined in a Divorce?

Child custody should be determined with grace, understanding, and a commitment to the best interest of the child. While many divorces are contentious, both parties must remember that they are still their child’s parents, and that their child still loves both parties. A skilled, personable attorney has the ability to take the stress off of the shoulders of their client and ensure an outcome that will best suit the needs of the child or children involved. In the end, child custody and visitation is dependent on the needs of the child or children. The court looks at all of the circumstances surrounding the divorce, and how the child’s day-to-day requirements and emotional needs are best met. Custody will also determine child support arrangements. Having legal representation can ensure that your voice is heard, that your child receives adequate visitation with both parents, and any child support arrangements cover the financial needs of raising the child.

When Would a Third-Party Custody Arrangement be Granted?

Children who are deemed to be at-risk for abuse or neglect as determined by the Department of Social Services may be placed with a third party. The Department of Social Services uses every avenue available to them to keep families intact and keep children in their parents’ home. If the child is in imminent danger, they may be placed with a family member or in a foster home. Parents whose children are placed in the custody of a third party are entitled to legal representation at all Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) hearings. During this series of hearings, the child’s environment, parents, and incidences of abuse or neglect are evaluated. The law requires the child to reunify with their parents if at all possible, but parents may be required to complete parenting courses, drug rehabilitation, and/or counseling before the child can be returned home. If your child has been removed from your home, contact Jana L Ponczak to discuss your legal rights.

Many attorneys attack cases with tenacity without regard for the well-being of the parties involved. Jana L. Ponczak is not one of them. She believes that the rights of children should be fiercely protected and that there is a right and wrong in every family law case. She chooses to stand on the side of reason and right and uses her sharp intellect and skill in the courtroom to defend it. For more information or to discuss your case, contact her office today.