Differences in Divorce Law in Virginia, Maryland and D.C.
Recently, I added the District of Columbia to Virginia and Maryland as locales where I am admitted to practice law. In the D.C. Metropolitan Area, being barred in all three jurisdictions makes sense; while I am a native of Northern Virginia and my office is located in Fairfax, both Maryland and D.C. are less than 30 minutes away and I frequently receive calls from people who have family law issues touching all three locations. Family laws are subject to the whims of local legislatures and thus, though they are often similar, they are certainly not identical across the three jurisdictions. Some notable differences include:
· In D.C. the age of majority for children is 21. In both Virginia and Maryland the age of majority is 18;
· In Maryland, the shared custody child support guideline takes effect when the non-primary custodian parent has the child for 128 days or more. In Virginia, the shared custody guideline kicks in at 90 days or more.
· Each state has its own child support guideline. Maryland’s guideline was recently revised and, as a result, in most cases its the most generous;
· In Virginia, alimony is terminable when the receiving spouse resides with a member of the opposite sex in a relationship analogous to marriage for a period in excess of 12 months. Neither Maryland nor D.C. has such a statutory termination provision.
· Both Virginia and D.C. have 12-month involuntary separation periods for divorce, but Maryland has a 24-month involuntary separation period;
· Unlike Virginia and Maryland, in D.C. marital fault like adultery exists and can be considered, but it is not a ground for divorce; and
· Unlike Virginia and Maryland, in D.C. property is categorized as either marital or non-marital. There is no hybrid property in D.C.
Naturally, there are many, many more distinctions between the jurisdictions and, in certain cases, party agreements can render those distinctions meaningless. If you have questions about the distinctions between family laws in Virginia, Maryland or the District of Columbia, feel free to drop me a line.
Jason A. Weis, Esquire – Curran Moher Weis P.C. – firstname.lastname@example.org – 10300 Eaton Place, Suite 520, Fairfax, VA 22030 – 571-328-5020