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Maryland Family Law

Maryland Family Law


Maryland family law governs legal relationships among families, including marriage, divorce, adoption, child custody, child support, and paternity. Family law issues can be complex and emotionally charged, and it is essential to work with a skilled attorney who understands Maryland’s family law statutes. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of Maryland family law, including updates, recent changes, and government resources available to individuals and families navigating familial legal issues.

Marriage and Domestic Partnerships

In Maryland, marriage is a legal recognition of a union between two people, regardless of gender. To get married in Maryland, both parties must apply for a marriage license at a local courthouse. The application requires proof of identity and age, such as a driver’s license or passport. It also includes a fee, which varies by county. The couple must also attend a brief marriage ceremony, performed by an authorized officiant, which includes signing the marriage license.

Domestic partnerships are legal relationships recognized in Maryland between two people who are not married but share a household and are in a committed relationship. Maryland law provides certain rights and benefits to domestic partners, such as inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, and access to health insurance. To register a domestic partnership in Maryland, both parties must be at least 18 years old, be in a committed relationship, and share the same household.

Divorce and Separation

Maryland allows for no-fault divorce, which means that a couple can get divorced without proving that one of the parties was at fault or did something wrong. To file for divorce in Maryland, at least one of the parties must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing. The divorce process begins with filing a complaint in court, which outlines the reasons for the divorce, such as irreconcilable differences or separation.

Maryland also recognizes legal separation, which allows couples to live apart and separate their assets and debts while still married. Legal separation can be a good option for couples who are not yet ready for divorce but need space and time apart to work on their relationship.

Child Support and Custody

In Maryland, child support and custody issues are often the most contentious aspects of family law. Child support is financial support paid by one parent to the other for the benefit of the child. Maryland’s child support guidelines establish a formula for calculating child support based on each parent’s income and the child’s needs, such as education, medical expenses, and extracurricular activities.

Child custody refers to legal and physical custody of a child. Legal custody refers to the authority to make important decisions about the child’s life, such as education, religion, and healthcare. Physical custody refers to the actual physical custody of the child and where the child will primarily reside. Maryland courts consider the best interests of the child when awarding custody and may take into account factors such as the parents’ relationship with the child, the child’s preference, and each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs.

Adoption and Paternity

Maryland law provides several options for adoption, including agency adoption, independent adoption, and stepparent adoption. Agency adoption involves working with a licensed adoption agency to identify and place a child with adoptive parents. Independent adoption involves the placement of a child directly with the adoptive parents, typically through the help of an adoption attorney. Stepparent adoption involves the adoption of a spouse’s child, which can be a relatively simple process.

Paternity refers to the legal recognition of a father’s relationship with a child. If a child is born to unmarried parents, the father may need to establish paternity before he can be granted any parental rights or obligations. The establishment of paternity can be done voluntarily by both parents signing an affidavit of parentage or through court proceedings.

Updates and Recent Changes

Maryland’s family law statutes have undergone several changes and updates in recent years. One significant update pertains to the rights of same-sex couples and LGBTQ families. Maryland recognized same-sex marriage in 2013 and expanded adoption rights to same-sex couples, allowing both partners to be recognized as legal parents of the adoptive child. Additionally, Maryland eliminated gender-specific terms in child custody laws, replacing terms such as “mother” and “father” with “parent” and “legal guardian.”

Another recent change in Maryland family law involves child custody proceedings in cases where there is a history of domestic violence. Maryland courts may now consider allegations of domestic violence as a factor when awarding custody or visitation rights. Additionally, courts can now order parents to participate in counseling or therapy as a condition of regaining custody or visitation rights.

Maryland also updated its child support guidelines in 2018 to reflect changes in federal tax laws and to make the guidelines more equitable and reflective of the current cost of living. The new guidelines provide more clarity and better address the needs of low-income families.

Government Resources

Maryland offers numerous government resources to individuals and families navigating family law issues. The Maryland Judiciary website provides information on Maryland family law, including statutes, court forms, and instructions on how to file a variety of legal documents, such as complaints for divorce, child support petitions, and adoption petitions. Additionally, the Maryland Child Support Enforcement Administration provides support and resources to families seeking to establish and enforce child support orders.

The Maryland Legal Aid Bureau and Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland offer free legal assistance for low-income families and individuals navigating legal issues related to family law. Other organizations, such as the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, provide legal aid and resources specifically for women and families impacted by domestic violence.


Maryland family law governs legal relationships among families, including marriage, divorce, adoption, child custody, child support, and paternity. Recent updates and changes in Maryland family law reflect changing social values and evolving understandings of family. It is essential to work with an experienced family law attorney who can provide guidance and support throughout the legal process of resolving family law issues in Maryland. Government resources, such as the Maryland Judiciary, the Child Support Enforcement Administration, and various legal aid organizations, can provide assistance and support to families navigating legal issues related to family law in Maryland.

An Understanding of Maryland Family Law

1. Marriage

2. Civil Unions

3. Domestic Partnerships

4. Spousal Abuse

5. Child Abuse

6. Legitimacy

7. Adoption

8. Surrogacy

9. Child Abduction

10. Divorce

11. Annulment

12. Property Settlements

13. Alimony

14. Parental Rights

15. Child Custody

16. Parenting Time

17. Child Support

18. Paternity

19. Juvenile Adjudication

You have any of these issues in the state of Maryland? You’re dealing with Maryland Family Law. That’s a niche within the legal industry.

You’ll notice that all of these Maryland family laws deal with the family and the home, basically. That’s why they call it Maryland ‘family’ laws.

Marriage Is a Legal Issue?

Yes, it can be. You don’t necessarily even have to get married in a church. You can get married in a courthouse. And there are certain Maryland family laws pertaining to marriage that you would have to know about – such as residency, legal age, witnesses, and valid certificate.

Moreover, there’s the issue of civil unions and domestic partnerships. They’re kind of like marriages, but without some benefits of marriage.

So it’s important to understand what’s involved when it comes to the Maryland Family Law.

Abuse Is a Maryland Family Law Issue?

Sometimes it might cross into the Criminal Law niche, but in general anything involving abuse or even domestic violence remains in the home. That’s the basis for all Maryland family laws.

Therefore it’s under the realm of Maryland Family Law – the reason being that generally there would be no charges filed (until the point that they are filed and then it becomes a criminal case).

Maryland Family Law Also Deals With Divorce

It’s a big deal in a family when a line gets drawn right in the middle, splitting a family in two. It then becomes a tremendous legal issue for several reasons –

1. Who Gets the Property?

2. Who Gets the Children?

3. Who Gets the Money?

The Maryland family laws are designed to make it as smooth as possible. When a family has been so contained, sometimes it can be difficult. The MD Family Law helps facilitate everything that needs to be made legal, made ordered so that there’s no violation (and if there is, the appropriate actions are taken).

Adoption and Surrogacy under MD Family Law

When you think about it, adopting a child isn’t a haphazard thing. You’re basically taking a child as your own. It becomes a legal issue, because you don’t know what the entire situation is.

1. Is the Child an Orphan?

2. Are the Birth Parents Willing?

3. Are You Reputable as an Adopting Parent?

And there are many other concerns that would require the mediation of an attorney in a court of MD Family Law.

The same goes for surrogacy under MD Family Law. A woman carrying a baby for another woman can be an intense and powerful event. Having a contract laid out would benefit both parties.

There are several issues involved in MD Family Law for Surrogacy:

1. Surrogate Parent Taking Fees

2. Surrogate Parent Signing Contract to Hand Over Rights

3. Health Concerns

Juvenile Adjudication

Although juveniles could commit crimes, there are certain cases where they simply endanger themselves – such as suicide attempts, running away, mental disorder, truancy.

This is where Family Law in Maryland steps in to handle the issue appropriately through the use of social services and other resources. Typically the Family Court would pay for such services when the issue can potentially be extreme.