Frequently Asked Questions: Post-Divorce Issues in Maryland
What to do with modifications to support, custody and visitation
In a perfect world, your divorce settlement would resolve every issue related to your marriage. Unfortunately, there are some issues, especially those relating to maintenance and child-rearing, that remain with you. Though your divorce decree sets parameters for future obligations and conduct, life marches on, often introducing new conflicts in areas you’d hoped were settled.
The Law Office of Stacy B. Talbott represents divorced spouses in actions to modify divorce orders, including alimony, child custody and visitation and child support. The firm offers these brief answers to pressing questions on common post-divorce issues.
- How easy is it to modify a divorce decree?
- What is required for the court to modify an indefinite alimony award?
- What are the grounds for modifying a child custody order?
- My ex is planning to leave the state for a new job and wants to take our children. What are my rights?
Contact a knowledgeable Rockville, Maryland post-divorce and family law attorney
How easy is it to modify a divorce decree?
Maryland family court is very busy, so judges discourage divorced couples from running into court for every disagreement. Absent a showing of hardship, misconduct or gross unfairness, it’s very difficult to get a judge to modify an existing order.
What is required for the court to modify an indefinite alimony award?
Just to clarify, indefinite refers to the time frame of the award, meaning it will continue indefinitely. The amount itself is quite definite. Factors the court considers include the ability of the dependent spouse to become independent and the relative financial standing of the supporting spouse and the dependent spouse. If either of these circumstances changes, you may have a case for modification. If your ex-spouse suddenly got a higher paying job or married an affluent individual, you could argue that alimony creates unjust enrichment. If your alimony payment is based on your income being unconscionably higher than your ex-spouse’s, but you have suffered a financial reversal that puts you on par with him or her, you could also argue unjust enrichment.
What are the grounds for modifying a child custody order?
The Maryland family court values stability in your children’s lives, so judges do not modify custody orders lightly. The court is always guided by the best interest of the child and will modify an order based on that principle. Certainly, negligent, reckless, abusive or criminal behavior on the part of the custodial spouse is grounds for a modification.
My ex is planning to leave the state for a new job and wants to take our children. What are my rights?
Maryland requires the custodial parent seeking to relocate to get permission from the court. The burden is on your ex to prove that the move is in the best interest of your children. As the noncustodial parent, you can seek to block the move by demonstrating that you have maintained an active visitation schedule and that the relocation would disrupt your relationship with your children that would be detrimental to them. The court looks at the totality of the circumstances and will likely decide one of two ways: the move will be denied and your custody and visitation will remain the same, or the move will be approved, but you will be awarded joint physical custody so that the children will spend part of the year with you and part with your ex. Since the court will rule subjectively, you should retain experienced representation to present your argument in the best possible light.