Family Law

Criminal

Enrollment & Registration

  • "Informal kinship care" means a living arrangement in which a relative of a child, who is not in the care, custody, or guardianship of the local department of social services, provides for the care and custody of the child due to a serious family hardship.

Pension Issues

Adoption

  • This article covers the basic laws of adoption in Maryland.

Annulment

  • Annulment is a relatively rare special action that establishes that your marriage never existed. If a court finds the facts necessary to grant an annulment it is as if you and your spouse were never married.

Birth Certificates

  • There are many reasons you might wish to change the name on a birth certificate. There are rules for each type of change. This includes changing from one name to another, correcting a misspelled name, adding a missing name, or correcting a parent’s information.

Child Abuse/Neglect

  • Children (under age 18) are deemed to be "in the need of assistance" if there is apparent abuse (physical, sexual, emotional) or neglect by a caretaker.
  • Maryland law makes it a crime to fail to provide for children in your care.
  • In Maryland, a child under the age of 8 years may not be left unattended at home, at school, or in a car. Effective October 1, 2013, when a parent or permanent custodian becomes aware that a child under the age of 13 has gone missing, that person must notify appropriate law enforcement within 24 hours, and when a parent or permanent custodian becomes aware that a minor has died, that person must notify appropriate law enforcement or medical authority within 5 hours.

Child Support

  • Maryland uses a formula to calculate child support. This formula is called the Child Support Guidelines. The court will usually order the amount of child support that the Guidelines say is correct unless someone can show that the Guidelines would be unjust and inappropriate in a particular case.
  • Frequently asked questions about child support in Maryland
  • In Maryland, each county has established a child support enforcement agency that can assist in collecting child support.
  • The law allows a larger amount of earnings to be garnished for child support or alimony than for ordinary debts.
  • Both parents have a legal duty to support their child based to their ability to provide that support. Since 1990, Maryland has had child support guidelines in effect, which provide a formula for calculating child support based on a proportion of each parent's gross income.
  • Changes can be made to the amount of child support ordered by a court. These modifications are usually based on a "changed circumstance" of one of custodial parents.
  • Establishing paternity is the process of determining who is the legal father of a child.

Custody & Visitation

  • Custody and visitation are the legal terms for court decisions about how the child will spend his/her time between parents (or others).
  • Grandparent visitation rights are codified in the Maryland Annotated Code, Family Law Article, Section 9-102.
  • Guardianship is a sub-set of custody. Often, a third party just needs to obtain guardianship for health and/or educational purposes. This is less intrusive than custody.
  • Visitation is the part of the court order that defines when, how and where the non-custodial parent may have contact with the child.

Divorce

  • Alimony is a periodic payment by one former spouse to the other to provide an opportunity for the recipient spouse to become self-supporting.
  • Divorce mediation is a time-limited, confidential process in which both you and your spouse meet with a neutral third person who helps you decide on the division of parenting responsibilities, where your children will live, when your children with spend time with each parent, how parenting decisions will be made, and the financial issues of property and support.
  • Maryland will recognize as valid out-of-state divorces that meet the requirements of the court granting the divorce judgment.
  • When a former spouse fails to comply with a court order or the terms of a private separation agreement, the other spouse may ask the court for help in gaining compliance
  • Federal legislation gives spouses and divorced spouses some rights in a worker’s pension plan and social security benefits.
  • To obtain an absolute divorce, one spouse must first prove that at least one ground for absolute divorce exists. This page gives a brief description of each ground for divorce in Maryland.
  • To obtain a limited divorce, you must first prove at least one of four grounds. These grounds include the following: mutual and voluntary separation, cruelty of treatment, excessively vicious conduct, or desertion.
  • If you are in the U.S. on a visa that was granted based on your spouse’s application, a divorce or separation may affect your lawful status and ability to stay in the U.S. You must be careful in choosing whether and when to separate or get a divorce. This article will help you weigh your options.
  • With a few important exceptions, all the property that was acquired during a marriage is considered marital property.
  • Under certain conditions, a state court may award a portion of one spouse's military retired pay to the other, as part of a divorce order.
  • "No fault" divorce (divorce with no grounds) requires separation living separate and apart for 12 months.
  • Divorce is the ending of a marriage ordered by a court. Because marriage is considered a civil contract between the parties under Maryland law, the complete dissolution of marriage is a divorce. In Maryland, there are two types of divorce: absolute and limited. Limited divorce is sometimes referred to as a legal separation.
  • If you are handling your own divorce, one important type of marital property that can be easily overlooked is the interest one spouse has in the other spouse's pension.
  • Agreements between persons about to marry made prior to the time a ceremony is performed and in anticipation of marriage are usually called pre-nuptial contracts or agreements.
  • A few facts on how property is treated during a divorce in Maryland and a quiz to see if you should represent yourself in your divorce.
  • In order to have access to a part of your spouse’s retirement you must have a court order, often called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.
  • To file for divorce in Maryland one party must be resident in Maryland.
  • A couple may privately enter into an oral or written agreement to live apart. This is typically called a marital settlement agreement, separation agreement, or property settlement agreement.
  • Divorce can affect your income taxes. Your written settlement agreement should state how you and your spouse will handle the issues in this article.
  • Divorce is the ending of a marriage ordered by a court. Because marriage is considered a civil contract between the parties under Maryland law, the complete dissolution of marriage is a divorce. In Maryland, there are two types of divorce: absolute and limited. Limited divorce is sometimes referred to as a legal separation.

Foster Care

  • This article gives general information about foster care law in Maryland.

Grandparents' Issues

Guardianship

  • Guardianship is a court proceeding. When an adult is unable to make personal decisions, such as medical decisions, or to handle his or her own property, a court can appoint a guardian.
  • What happens when someone becomes disabled and can no longer manage his or her financial affairs? Perhaps that person has dementia, suffered a stroke, or has some other ailment or injury that renders that person unable to act. That person’s financial affairs must be put in order, and kept in order, so that the financial needs of that person can be taken care as long as possible. Often, the answer to that question is to initiate a guardianship proceeding on behalf of that disabled adult.
  • Establishing a guardianship is a formal, public, legal process. It is initiated when someone files a petition with a Maryland circuit court to be appointed guardian for an “alleged disabled person.” It should be noted that a disabled person is always an “alleged” disabled person until that person is determined by a court to be disabled, based on competent medical evidence, affidavits or opinions. Prior to that determination, a person is presumed to have capacity. If the court determines that a person is disabled, the court will appoint someone, most often an interested person, to serve as guardian, and issue an order setting out the terms and conditions of the appointment.
  • Interested persons play a pivotal role in guardianship proceedings. For example, only an interested person can petition for guardianship.
  • Whether or not the guardianship is contested, a hearing on the guardianship petition will be conducted in the circuit court for the county in which the petition was filed. The two main issues in a guardianship hearing are (1) whether a guardian is needed (i.e., is the alleged disabled person really disabled?) and (2) who is the most appropriate guardian for the disabled person. The Petitioner has the burden to prove both of these issues.
  • Guardianship is a sub-set of custody. Often, a third party just needs to obtain guardianship for health and/or educational purposes. This is less intrusive than custody.
  • A Standby Guardian is a person appointed by a parent or parents of a child to take care of the child in the event that the parent (s) is mentally or physically incapable of doing so.

Kinship Care

  • According to the ABA, kinship care is commonly defined as the "full-time care, nurturing, and protection of children by relatives, members of their tribes or clans, or other adults who have a family relationship to a child."
  • "Informal kinship care" means a living arrangement in which a relative of a child, who is not in the care, custody, or guardianship of the local department of social services, provides for the care and custody of the child due to a serious family hardship.

Marriage

  • A “tort” is a civil wrong or injury remedied by the award of money damages. The tort actions that have special significance between married persons are “wrongful death” and “loss of consortium” claims.
  • A "common law" marriage cannot be created in Maryland. However, Maryland does recognize as valid, common law marriages created outside of Maryland if the legal requirements of the other jurisdiction have been met.
  • How to get a marriage license in Maryland and who is allowed to officiate.
  • Agreements between persons about to marry made prior to the time a ceremony is performed and in anticipation of marriage are usually called pre-nuptial contracts or agreements.
  • Married persons are generally regarded by the courts as parties to a contract. This contract can be validly entered into (or dissolved) only by following Maryland Family Law statutes.

Name Change

  • A select summary of case law from Maryland courts.
  • To change the name of a child or minor a petition for name change needs to be filed in Maryland circuit court in the county where the child is a resident.
  • A person can change his or her name for any reason. The only condition for a name change is that the name change must not be for any illegal or fraudulent purpose and the new name must not interfere with the rights of others.
  • As part of a divorce, a party can ask the court for an order to resume using his or her prior name.
  • Any person may file an objection to a petition to change the name of another person.

Family Law

Disability Law

  • Guardianship is a court proceeding. When an adult is unable to make personal decisions, such as medical decisions, or to handle his or her own property, a court can appoint a guardian.
  • What happens when someone becomes disabled and can no longer manage his or her financial affairs? Perhaps that person has dementia, suffered a stroke, or has some other ailment or injury that renders that person unable to act. That person’s financial affairs must be put in order, and kept in order, so that the financial needs of that person can be taken care as long as possible. Often, the answer to that question is to initiate a guardianship proceeding on behalf of that disabled adult.
  • Establishing a guardianship is a formal, public, legal process. It is initiated when someone files a petition with a Maryland circuit court to be appointed guardian for an “alleged disabled person.” It should be noted that a disabled person is always an “alleged” disabled person until that person is determined by a court to be disabled, based on competent medical evidence, affidavits or opinions. Prior to that determination, a person is presumed to have capacity. If the court determines that a person is disabled, the court will appoint someone, most often an interested person, to serve as guardian, and issue an order setting out the terms and conditions of the appointment.
  • Interested persons play a pivotal role in guardianship proceedings. For example, only an interested person can petition for guardianship.
  • Whether or not the guardianship is contested, a hearing on the guardianship petition will be conducted in the circuit court for the county in which the petition was filed. The two main issues in a guardianship hearing are (1) whether a guardian is needed (i.e., is the alleged disabled person really disabled?) and (2) who is the most appropriate guardian for the disabled person. The Petitioner has the burden to prove both of these issues.

Pensions

Senior Citizens

  • Guardianship is a court proceeding. When an adult is unable to make personal decisions, such as medical decisions, or to handle his or her own property, a court can appoint a guardian.
  • What happens when someone becomes disabled and can no longer manage his or her financial affairs? Perhaps that person has dementia, suffered a stroke, or has some other ailment or injury that renders that person unable to act. That person’s financial affairs must be put in order, and kept in order, so that the financial needs of that person can be taken care as long as possible. Often, the answer to that question is to initiate a guardianship proceeding on behalf of that disabled adult.
  • Establishing a guardianship is a formal, public, legal process. It is initiated when someone files a petition with a Maryland circuit court to be appointed guardian for an “alleged disabled person.” It should be noted that a disabled person is always an “alleged” disabled person until that person is determined by a court to be disabled, based on competent medical evidence, affidavits or opinions. Prior to that determination, a person is presumed to have capacity. If the court determines that a person is disabled, the court will appoint someone, most often an interested person, to serve as guardian, and issue an order setting out the terms and conditions of the appointment.
  • Interested persons play a pivotal role in guardianship proceedings. For example, only an interested person can petition for guardianship.
  • Whether or not the guardianship is contested, a hearing on the guardianship petition will be conducted in the circuit court for the county in which the petition was filed. The two main issues in a guardianship hearing are (1) whether a guardian is needed (i.e., is the alleged disabled person really disabled?) and (2) who is the most appropriate guardian for the disabled person. The Petitioner has the burden to prove both of these issues.

Child Abuse

  • Children (under age 18) are deemed to be "in the need of assistance" if there is apparent abuse (physical, sexual, emotional) or neglect by a caretaker.

Criminal Law

  • Maryland law makes it a crime to fail to provide for children in your care.
  • In Maryland, a child under the age of 8 years may not be left unattended at home, at school, or in a car. Effective October 1, 2013, when a parent or permanent custodian becomes aware that a child under the age of 13 has gone missing, that person must notify appropriate law enforcement within 24 hours, and when a parent or permanent custodian becomes aware that a minor has died, that person must notify appropriate law enforcement or medical authority within 5 hours.

Custody

  • Custody and visitation are the legal terms for court decisions about how the child will spend his/her time between parents (or others).
  • Visitation is the part of the court order that defines when, how and where the non-custodial parent may have contact with the child.

Immigration

  • If you are in the U.S. on a visa that was granted based on your spouse’s application, a divorce or separation may affect your lawful status and ability to stay in the U.S. You must be careful in choosing whether and when to separate or get a divorce. This article will help you weigh your options.

Taxes

  • Divorce can affect your income taxes. Your written settlement agreement should state how you and your spouse will handle the issues in this article.

Veterans/Military

Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2014.”

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