Divorce Do's & Don'ts

Free Tips From Harford County Family Law Attorney - Stephen King

This checklist is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for legal advice. Tips are for consideration only. Prior to acting you are advised to consult an attorney who may advise otherwise based on your specific situation and facts particular to your case. To schedule a consultation with Steve King call 410-879-7442.

Don’t sign anything without legal advice.

If you sign an agreement you and your spouse drew up yourselves or pulled off the internet and then realize that you basically ‘gave away the farm’ you could be stuck with that agreement or endure expensive litigation trying to rescind it.

If you sign a listing contract for the marital home, you have agreed to sell it or owe a commission if the realtor finds a buyer. This means you cannot ask the court to let you and your children stay there. Maryland courts have authority to grant you up to 3 years use of the Family Home (legal term) along with primary care of the minor child. The court cannot grant that if you sell the house. Consider also that a listing contract probably won’t resolve the question of how to divide the money at closing, which could mean the funds are held in escrow until the court tries the case.

Do seek legal advice early on.

Many of my clients start meeting with me months before a separation begins.

Don’t tell your spouse you are seeking legal counsel.

You don’t know yet what you will do or when and mentioning lawyers can cause the spouse to hide assets or take other action against your interests.

Do learn all you can about the finances.

Copies of bank statements, pension and 401(k) reports, tax returns and debt balances can locate and verify assets and save legal fees later.


Don’t tell your friends about your plans.

Few people, even good friends, can keep a secret. Many people think a secret is something you describe as confidential before telling others.

Do call 911 if you are a victim of domestic violence.

Safety comes first. If you have children remember what they learn if you put up with violence.

Don’t move out without legal advice.

This is a tough one. If you are a victim of domestic violence, your call to 911 may lead to removal of your spouse within minutes and be followed within hours by a court order to keep the spouse away. Seek legal advice or call the spousal abuse hot line (in Harford County, Maryland - Spousal Abuse Resource Center 24/hr help line - 410-836-8430). You may need to temporarily vacate the home for the safety of you and your child. If there is no domestic violence, you should avoid moving out without legal advice because doing so could hurt your legal position. See legal notice below.

Do set money aside, solely under your control.

If all your accounts are joint, your spouse could seize all the money without notice and put you in a difficult position. Courts take time to act, often months for even an initial hearing. If you are the economically dependent spouse, this is especially important.

Don’t date.

Even if your spouse is dating, don’t be seen alone with an unrelated adult of the opposite sex. Fault grounds for divorce still exist in Maryland. Consider also that infidelity can fuel anger in your spouse and lead to difficulty in settling the case on reasonable terms. Don’t give your spouse a reason to ‘declare war.’

Do consider the children.

This is not a pitch to stay in a toxic marriage. Children learn to relate to others by observing their parents. Do you want your children to have a spousal relationship like yours? If not, can you change your current relationship (through counseling or work) into one that is healthy, that you would be pleased to see emulated by your children someday? If not, it’s time to think about what you teach the next generation by staying together or by moving on.

Do select an attorney who primarily practices the type of law applicable to your case, who’s office is located near the courthouse which will handle your case, and who suits your personality.

Meet with the attorney to be sure you are comfortable with that person before committing to what may be a year or more of a relationship.

Why Choose Stephen King as Your Divorce Attorney?

Stephen King is a Maryland attorney with over 30 years experience in a practice focused on family law issues of divorce, custody, alimony, property rights, pension division and child support.

His office has been located on Main Street in downtown Bel Air since 1982, a short walk from all courthouses and master’s offices in Harford County, the only county in which he regularly accepts cases. He is one of the few attorneys with offices in Harford County, Maryland focusing his practice on family law and offering an initial consultation at a reduced rate.

* Legal Notice - This checklist is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for legal advice. Tips are for consideration only. Prior to acting you are advised to consult an attorney who may advise otherwise based on your specific situation and facts particular to your case. For an initial consultation with Steve King call 410-879-7442.

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