MARRIAGES AND UNIONS FAQ
Frequently, separation and later, divorce, is thought of as a straight-forward process involving the applicable “divorce laws.” In fact, separation involves complex issues of finance and support, child-rearing, present debts and future obligations, property divisions and many other issues. In the unique Washington, D.C. area, there are often instances where preliminary determinations have to be made as to which jurisdiction’s laws will apply to which aspects of the separation and divorce. The lawyers at Kuder, Smollar, Friedman & Mihalik, PC practice in all three local jurisdictions (District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia) and remain informed with respect to the broader issues that impact families in distress. During the separation and divorce process, Kuder, Smollar, Friedman & Mihalik, PC attorneys often call upon property, tax, bankruptcy, business and mental health experts, as well as others, to assist clients in the separation and divorce process.
As a possible alternative to divorce, annulment is a declaration by a court that a marriage was invalid from the beginning, or should be declared to be such. While not a common procedure, the attorneys at Kuder, Smollar, Friedman & Mihalik, PC are prepared to explain what is involved in seeking an annulment, and when it is possible to present a case for annulment to a court, and then to assist in such a proceeding.
When couples separate and divorce, families are often forced to establish two households under the same financial circumstances that previously supported one. When there is a disparity in the ability to earn income, whether, for example, as a result of illness or disability or where one party left the workforce to care for the family, the law provides for alimony or spousal support to assist the lesser earning partner in providing for his or her needs, both during the separation and divorce period and on a more permanent basis. While issues involving alimony and spousal support can be difficult, the lawyers of Kuder, Smollar, Friedman & Mihalik, PC have years of experience in helping clients work out financial arrangements sufficient to meet their needs and in advocating for clients in legal proceedings when agreements cannot be made.
Many people, whether married, domestic partners or cohabitants, acquire shared interests in real property, bank accounts, investments, retirement savings, automobiles and/or personal effects. Different laws and principles apply to these relationships, and property ownership, in different jurisdictions and under different circumstances. The lawyers of Kuder, Smollar, Friedman & Mihalik, PC have experience gained over scores of years in identifying and arranging for the disposition of property involved, regardless of the relationship between the parties.
It is an unfortunate fact that the resolution of issues between spouses, partners, or cohabitants, whether by mutual agreement or court order, does not always end the need for legal counsel. As time goes by, circumstances often change and require the modification of previous arrangements. Notwithstanding the stated intentions at the time of a settlement to comply with it, issues of enforcement and interpretation arise. Our attorneys can help identify such issues and assist clients in dealing with matters of enforcement or modification of previous agreements or orders, seeking court intervention when necessary.
The federal Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”), which has increased the willingness of victims of violence to come forward, and emerging public awareness of the problem of violence by members of a family or by persons intimately involved with each other have greatly increased the number of charges of domestic violence brought to the attention of the civil family courts and criminal prosecutions. Both victims of domestic violence and those accused of committing domestic violence need the assistance of experienced attorneys, such as those at Kuder, Smollar, Friedman & Mihalik, PC, who are familiar with the laws, standards, and procedures surrounding this growing area of contention.
Pre-marital agreements, at one time, were primarily confined to the wealthy. However, agreements have become increasingly common for many reasons. For example, many couples postpone marriage until they have acquired significant property, marry later in life, or enter into subsequent marriages. Further, legal and informal alternatives to traditional marriage have become a part of our social fabric requiring similar attention to property and support questions. From the initial claims of actor Lee Marvin’s live-in partner to complex questions surrounding the affairs of a same-sex couple planning to marry in an hospitable jurisdiction, but live elsewhere, lawyers have been developing a body of experience and law to assist clients in ordering their affairs. At Kuder, Smollar, Friedman & Mihalik, PC, we have extensive experience in a wide variety of pre-marital agreements, agreements between people after marriage in connection with important matters in their lives, and the emerging area of agreements between domestic partners and other cohabitants.