top of page


I work in the following areas of divorce, marriage, and related issues
(Residency requirements differ in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.)
  •      Adoption

  •      Adultery

  •      Alimony:

  •             - Pendente Lite alimony (temporary spousal support)

  •             - Rehabilitative alimony

  •             - Indefinite alimony

  •      Alternative families

  •      Child custody / support / visitation

  •      Collaborative law

  •      Divorce     

  •      Domestic violence and protective orders

  •      Marital Property (what it is, and how to divide it)

  •      Marital Settlement Agreements

  •      Mediation

  •      Parenting plans

  •      Pension and other retirement plans:  to divide or not?

  •      Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements

  •      Property division

Divorce is always wrenching, no matter the reason, and no matter how much we may think we want it or feel we are ready for it.  This is all the more so when children are involved.  I try to make the process as calm and mutually respectful as possible by seeking to understand what each party wants and can live with.  This takes a great deal of compassion and comprehension of the feelings and positions of both sides to the divorce.
In your divorce, I can act in one of three roles: 
1) As the attorney for one of the spouses, I represent your interests alone, while all the while working toward bringing you and your spouse to an agreement.  I have been able to keep the vast majority of divorce cases I've handled out of court, either by negotiating rationally with your spouse's attorney or taking the case to court (the least preferable choice, in my opinion).

2) I can represent both you and your spouse as your joint mediator.  In this process, I act as a neutral party, and help guide you to a fair and workable solution.  Please see my article on mediation elsewhere on this website to get a better idea of how mediation works.  The three of us sit down to determine what issues are outstanding, and how we can best iron them out to both parties' approval.  

3) I can represent you as part of the process called Collaborative Law.  I have taken the lengthy, intensive training in this relatively new process, which suits some, but not all, situations.  In collaborative law, the attorneys for both spouses sign a written agreement in which they commit to work toward an out-of-court settlement.  If, during the process, that seems impossible or highly unlikely, both lawyers remove themselves from the case, and the divorcing spouses hire different lawyers. 




       "Tout ça change, tout ç'est la même chose." 


In Maryland, adultery is a ground for asking the court to grant an immediate divorce. While Marylanders must usually be physically separated before they can file for divorce, one party can skip that waiting period if s/he can show the spouse has committed adultery.

Use of adultery as the sole ground for divorce is not favored in Maryland, although it may influence a judge's decision. The courts require substantial proof of adultery before granting a divorce solely on that ground, in order to avoid having couples try to circumvent the one- year waiting period by agreeing to admit to adultery. One spouse's statement that s/he committed adultery is not enough. Photos may help. Photos showing a man and woman going into a hotel in the evening and exiting in the morning, holding hands may suffice as proof of the adultery. However, judges have a great deal of discretion, and may decide not to accept as credible evidence anything short of a photo of the lovers in delicto flagrante.

The adultery complaint will allow the party asking for the divorce, the plaintiff, to get her/his foot in the court's door quickly. It is then up to both parties to prove their versions of the facts, including the adultery and their property ownership. A court will not directly penalize a party monetarily for the commission of the adultery itself. However, it will be taken into account as one of the many factors in deciding how to split a couple's property. Factors (4) and (11) in the list above give the judge wide leeway in taking the adultery into account.

An interesting case decided March 31, 2022, in Maryland's Court of Special Appeals (the second-highest court in Maryland), Gagliardi v. Gagliardi,, reveals a great deal as to how adultery can play a role in a judge's attitude and decision. In that case, Mother (the court referred to the parties throughout as "Mother" and "Father") admitted she had committed adultery, but objected to the lower court's granting Father the divorce on the grounds of adultery in that he had "condoned" the adultery. Condonation -- the resumption of marital relations post-adultery -- is a defense to adultery, but it is only one of several factors in whether a judge will grant the divorce on that ground alone. In somewhat archaic terms, the Gagliardi court stated:

Condonation, as a defense to the charge, is [only] "a factor to be

considered" in determining whether divorce should be granted based

upon adultery. FL § 7-103(d).


As this Court has previously explained,

"[c]ondonation is a conditional forgiveness of a marital offense." [...] It

requires "an implied promise that the marital offenses or acts rendering

the marital relation intolerable will not be repeated by the erring

spouse and that the offended party will be treated with conjugal

kindness." Id. Evidence of condonation includes "[r]esuming normal

marital relations[.]" [...] Condonation is not, however, an "absolute bar"

to divorce on the grounds of adultery. FL § 7-103(d).


[Note: All boldface, italics, and brackets are mine, and were not in the



It appears, then, that one can get an absolute divorce on the grounds of adultery, even if s/he has condoned (forgiven) the adultery by resuming normal marital relations, even if the adultery has not been repeated after confrontation, and even if the aggrieved party has been treated with "conjugal kindness" (whatever that may mean). Thus, no matter what happens after the "erring spouse" has admitted the adultery, and been forgiven, there appears to be a window of opportunity during which the offended spouse may still sue for absolute divorce based on adultery.

None of this is totally clear and predictable. What is also not clear, and seemingly not yet tested in court, is how long that window stays open -- two months after resumption of conjugal relations? Six months? One year? This is uncharted ground that leaves a perhaps inordinate amount of discretion in the trial court judge to decide. It also leaves a great deal of uncertainty for parties heading to divorce court based on adultery.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Couples may wish to decide before getting married how they would like to divide their assets if and when they get divorced, or how their assets will be distributed at the time of their death.

A contract signed prior to marriage is called a "prenuptial" agreement, or "prenup" for short. It is also known as an antenuptial agreement ("ante" meaning before marriage). Parties may also wish to enter into a "postnuptial" agreement, which is an agreement signed at any time after they already are married.

More and more couples are memorializing their pre- or post-marriage agreements in a written contract. Their reasons are many. For example, the parties' financial situation may change during the course of their marriage, children may be born or adopted, an asset may become highly valuable -- or worthless, and one party may need full-time care that costs more than that party would get under the prenup.

Property Division


Under Maryland law, if the parties don't agree themselves on how to divide their property, a judge is charged with making an "equitable" property distribution. Although "equitable" and "equal" sound similar, they are not.

"Equitable" means that the settlement will be fair, just, and reasonable, taking into account all the circumstances. "Equal" means fifty-fifty, which is something quite different, and is rarely how property is divided in Maryland. In shaping an equitable property distribution, a judge has to look at all the circumstances and come up with a decision that seems fair -- "equitable" -- to her or him. The lack of precision in the concept of what is fair can lead to property distribution decisions that may seem very far from fair, even outlandish, to some. What is more, the trial judge at the circuit court level has an enormous amount of discretion, which a court of appeal will only overturn if there is "clear error" or an "abuse of discretion".

In a court case, the judge first has to decide which of a couple's assets are marital and which are non-marital. Marital assets are divided between the parties in the amount and manner the judge determines. Non-marital assets are not divided: each party keeps the entirety of her/his own non-marital property.

The judge then has to determine the value of each asset to be divided, that is, each item of marital property. Lastly, the judge must consider all the following factors in order to decide how to divide the couple's marital property between the spouses. The judge has enormous discretion in dividing a couple's property -- another reason why parties may realize the benefits of mediation over litigation.

Maryland Code, Family Law Article § 8-205, entitled "Monetary award", states:

Grant of award or transfer ownership of an interest in property


(a)(1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, after the court determines which property is marital property, and the value of the marital property, the court may transfer ownership of an interest in property described in paragraph (2) of this subsection, grant a monetary award, or both, as an adjustment of the equities and rights of the parties concerning marital property, whether or not alimony is awarded.

(2) The court may transfer ownership of an interest in:

(i) a pension, retirement, profit sharing, or deferred compensation plan, from one party to either or both parties;

(ii) subject to the consent of any lienholders, family use personal property, from one or both parties to either or both parties; and

(iii) subject to the terms of any lien, real property jointly owned by the parties and used as the principal residence of the parties when they lived together, by:


1. ordering the transfer of ownership of the real property or any interest of one of the parties in the real property to the other party if the party to whom the real property is transferred obtains the release of the other party from any lien against the real property;


2. authorizing one party to purchase the interest of the other party in the real property, in accordance with the terms and conditions ordered by the court; or


3. both.

(b) The court shall determine the amount and the method of payment of a monetary award, or the terms of the transfer of the interest in property described in subsection (a)(2) of this section, or both, after considering each of the following factors:

(1) the contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;

(2) the value of all property interests of each party;

(3) the economic circumstances of each party at the time the award is to be made;

(4) the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;

(5) the duration of the marriage;
(6) the age of each party;
(7) the physical and mental condition of each party;

(8) how and when specific marital property or interest in property described in subsection (a)(2) of this section, was acquired, including the effort expended by each party in accumulating the marital property or the interest in property described in subsection (a)(2) of this section, or both;

(9) the contribution by either party of property described in § 8-201(e)(3) of this subtitle to the acquisition of real property held by the parties as tenants by the entirety;

(10) any award of alimony and any award or other provision that the court has made with respect to family use personal property or the family home; and

(11) any other factor that the court considers necessary or appropriate to consider in order to arrive at a fair and equitable monetary award or transfer of an interest in property described in subsection (a)(2) of this section, or both.

Pre and Postnup
Prop Dev
New Maryland Laws



Effective October 1, 2023, Maryland domestic relations laws have undergone some major changes.  Here are a few of them.


Consent (no fault) divorces:  six months' separation now suffices.


Where both spouses agree on all the financial and custody-related issues, couples can now file for a no-fault divorce based on a separation of only six months.  This period used to be one year.  Importantly, one party does not have to move out of the couple's shared house or apartment in order for them to be considered separated, but they do have to live separate lives.  For example, it suffices for one spouse to move into another bedroom.  They might no longer share meals.  They would no longer be socializing as spouses, and would or do things separately that they used to do together.  The new law's elimination of the need for one party to move out in order for there to be a "separation" was largely based on the financial burden that some families experienced in having to pay for two separate residences during the separation period.


"Irreconcilable differences" is now a ground for divorce.


"Irreconcilable differences" is a new criterion for a consent divorce, and therefore it is not yet clear what situations Maryland judges will accept as "irreconcilable differences".  Does this mean differences regarding children's issues?  Does it cover continual fighting between the spouses?  How bad does it have to be?  With cases already in the courts, a body of judicial precedent should soon be forthcoming.


A one-year separation period is still required in some instances.


If the divorcing spouses cannot agree on all issues, so that the divorce is non-consensual and must be decided by a judge, the six-month separation period does not apply.  In these non-consensual instances -- now only 5% of divorce cases -- the parties must have first lived separate lives (explained above) for one year.


Adultery is no longer a ground for divorce, but it is still judicially relevant.


Prior to October 1, 2023, a claim of adultery -- if provable -- in a divorce complaint would get the complaining spouse a quick hearing and divorce, bypassing the need to wait one year before filing.  This is no longer the case.  Instead, since October 1, the charge of adultery, if admitted or proved in court, is now subsumed under the list of the various factors a judge must consider in her/his decision, as part of the circumstances leading up to the divorce. 


Limited divorce is no longer available.


Although Maryland law allowed so-called limited divorces until October 1, 2023, they are no longer granted.  A limited divorce, which was not an "absolute divorce", worked well for parties who, for religious, financial, health-benefit, or other reasons, did not wish to be completely divorced.  While that option is no longer available, limited divorces awarded prior to the change in the law will still be considered valid.


The child support ceilings have been raised.


The new laws also increased the child support ceilings in the Maryland Code to make it easier for higher-income families to calculate child  support.  Couples with income exceeding the new pre-calculated levels will still have to negotiate child support as in the past, by looking to their incomes and needs and trying to achieve a fair solution.


Expedited hearings are now mandated in custody cases when one spouse wishes to move the child's location.


Another new law makes it mandatory for courts to grant expedited hearings where one spouse wishes to move a child subject to a custody order to a distance that makes it difficult or impossible for the other spouse to have the visitation awarded to her/him.  The new law is aimed at reducing the time that divorced parents -- and the child -- must wait in order to know whether the court will allow the planned move.  In practical terms, however, the courts are backed up, and the wait for an "expedited hearing" may still be much longer than desirable.


Child support arrearages can now look to Workmen's Compensation and settlement proceeds for payment.


In the past, if a court granted one spouse a judgment against a non-paying spouse for child support arrearages, the judgment could not touch the debtor spouse's Workmen's Compensation benefits or his/her proceeds from a personal injury settlement.  With the advent of the new laws on October 1, 2023, that has changed.  Now, up to twenty-five percent of such benefits or proceeds can be executed against.


Marriage is no longer a defense to rape and other sexual offenses.


It is sad to think that until October 1, 2023, marital rape was not a crime.  It was possible for the criminal authorities to bring charges of different kinds of assault, but rape and other sexual offenses were not chargeable if the parties were married or in a marriage-like relationship.  In other words, marriage was a complete.  That has changed with the advent of the new law.  It remains to be seen how it will be applied.


* * *


Please feel free to contact me for an initial, complimentary consultation.  I will be happy to discuss with you how the new laws may affect your pending or upcoming divorce.

bottom of page