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Services : Family Law


For more information, visit MICHIE.com, a search tool for the Maryland Rules of Civil Proc. and Maryland Annotated Code.

Family Law

Family law is an area law that deals with divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, paternity, and adoption.


A divorce is defined as the dissolution of a marriage by judicial decree. There are two types Divorce: absolute divorce and limited divorce.

Absolute divorce - a divorce that is granted on the basis of marital misconduct or a finding that the relationship is no longer workable (also known as no-fault divorce). In an absolute divorce, the marriage is completely dissolved and both parties are legally unmarried again.

Limited divorce - a separation of the two parties that terminates cohabitation. In a limited divorce, the marriage is not dissolved and the parties remain married to one another. Limited divorce is also known as "separation."

Annulment - Another way to dissolve a marriage is annulment .
When an annulment is granted, it treats the marriage as though it never existed. Grounds for annulment include:

  • Misrepresentation or fraud - this can include: lying about already being married.
  • Concealment - examples of concealment include: concealing a felony conviction, concealing an addiction, and concealing a sexually transmitted disease.
  • Inability (or refusal) to consummate the marriage
  • Misunderstanding - an example of a misunderstanding would be that one party thought that the other wanted children when, in fact, they did not.


Alimony is defined as payment from one spouse to another for support after divorce or separation.

Alimony can be paid on a monthly basis, or in a lump sum if allowed by the state.


In family law cases, paternity refers to the determination of who the father of a child is in order to arrange child support payments and custody.

There are several types of fathers that may be required to pay child support:

Acknowledged father - the biological father of a child born to parents who are not married. In this case, paternity can be established through admission of the father or an agreement between the parents of the child.

Presumed father - a man can be presumed the father of a child if he was married to the mother of the child when the child was conceived or born, if he attempted to marry the mother of the child when the child was conceived or born, if he married the mother after the birth of the child and agreed to support the child or have his name put on the birth certificate, or if he welcomed the child into his home as his own.

Equitable father - a father who is not the biological or adoptive parent of a child. An equitable father can be granted custody or visitation rights if a close relationship with the child exists or if the biological parents of the child encourage the relationship.

Unwed father - a man who has not married the woman with whom he has conceived a child. In this instance, the man has no legal recourse if the woman decides to undergo an abortion, but if the child is born he may be expected to pay child support and can be granted visitation rights or custody of the child.

Child Custody

When a married couple with children files for divorce, custody of the children is determined in a court of law.

There are four main types of child custody:

Legal custody - refers to the right of a parent to make decisions about a child's upbringing. In some cases, joint legal custody is awarded to both parents. In this instance, the parents of the child must make decisions about the child's welfare together.

Physical custody - refers to the right of a parent to have a child live with them. In some cases, joint physical custody is awarded.

Sole custody - when sole custody is awarded to one parent, that parent has sole legal and physical custody of the child.

Joint custody - refers to joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or both.

Child Support

Child support refers to the obligation of a child's parents to pay for his or her upbringing.

Child support does not discriminate between genders - a father who has custody of a child is entitled to child support just as a mother who has custody of a child is entitled to the same support.


Adoption refers to the process by which an adult becomes the parent of a child who is not biologically his or her offspring.

There are five main types of adoption:

Agency adoption - the adoption of a child through a public or private agency.

Independent adoption - the adoption of a child without an agency. Independent adoption can involve an arrangement between the adoptive parents and the birth parents or can involve an intermediary such as an attorney or doctor.

Identified adoption - an adoption in which the adoptive parents locate and contact the birth parents directly and then turn the adoption process over to a public or private agency.

International adoption - an adoption in which the adoptive child is a citizen of another country.

Relative adoption - an adoption in which the adoptive parent is related to the child by blood or marriage.

law lawyer

John Leo Walter of Eastern Shore Legal, serves clients in Centreville, Maryland and the Maryland Eastern Shore areas in general. These include courts of Easton, Denton, Salisbury, Chestertown, Ocean City, Cambridge that reside in the Maryland counties of Queen Anne's, Talbot, Caroline, Kent, Dorchester, Wicomico, and Worcester.

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