What are the Rules for Marital Separation Agreements in Maryland?
When a married couple pursues a permanent divorce in Maryland, it does not have to be a contentious or drawn-out process. If the parties to a divorce are able to compromise and reach mutual understanding, they can pursue a marital separation agreement.
Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 7-103, the state courts may grant a request for a divorce based on mutual consent. In order to qualify, the divorcing couple must prepare and execute a marital separation agreement. To be legally valid, these separation agreements must address the topics outlined in the following sections.
In order to create a valid and enforceable separation agreement that can be used in a mutual consent divorce filing, a divorcing couple must outline their terms for spousal support. Referred to legally as alimony, these support payments help address financial and professional differences and enable each party to become self-sufficient.
- Property Division
Maryland law also requires marital separation agreements to resolve any issues relating to property division. Stated otherwise, the divorcing couple must decide how to split up their common assets. To complete this process, the parties to a divorce would usually consider:
- Determination of property ownership (Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-202);
- Determination of marital property (Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-203);
- Valuation of marital property (Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-204);
- Monetary award(s) (Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-205);
- Determination of the family home and family use personal property (Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-207); and
- Possession and use of the family home and family use personal property (Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-208).
- Child Custody & Support
If divorcing spouses have children together, then a marital separation agreement generally addresses child custody, care, and support as well. This requirement only applies to minor and dependent children. In those cases, the parents must agree on the terms of child support and custody. And the Maryland courts ensure that the separation agreement will serve the best interests of any children involved.
If either party must pay child support under a marital separation agreement, there is an additional requirement. The divorcing couple must complete and attach the child support guidelines worksheet to their separation agreement. This worksheet helps the Maryland courts determine the appropriate amount of child support obligations for each party to a divorce.
Let Us Help You Today
If you need legal help preparing or negotiating a marital separation agreement in Maryland, it can be decidedly beneficial to contact a reputable family law attorney. The Bel Air divorce attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including marital separation agreements. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.