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I have been separated from my wife since January 2014 (I

moved out and to WV...
I have been separated from my wife since January 2014 (I moved out and to WV - she still lived in MD). I currently live in VA (moved here September 2015) and she still lives in MD with our two children (16 & 5). I am current on child support, court ordered May 2016 (I pay VA and it gets to her thru MD I believe). She is making things very difficult for me to see my children (I have not been able to see them since I moved to WV in 2014). Basically if I'm not there in MD then she doesn't feel I have rights. I just want to move on without her hanging over my head everyday and legally be able to see my kids without having to constantly meet her demands and it being on her terms. I cant even have a conversation without her getting verbally abusive, wishing me dead or in jail. Currently her number is ***** due to the abusive nature of her messages. I just want a divorce. I don't want to talk bad about her as she is the mother of my children. She just made my life so miserable while we were married. Physically & mentally abusive, suffers from BPD and refused to medicate. I hate to even admit I'm the weaker one and the reason I stayed so long was because of the kids. I didn't take the kids when I left (I did ask my oldest child to come with me but she didn't want to leave her little sister and I knew there was no way in hell her mother would let me take the kids) because I didn't want to get arrested for kidnapping. I know for a fact she would have pressed charges, that's just the type of person she is. I want to be able to see my children without all the anger and negative interaction from her. Because I already pay child support and we have nothing that ties us together (community property, etc) how difficult will this divorce be? Please help.
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Answered in 2 minutes by:
5/10/2017
LegalGems
LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 11,169
Experience: Experienced Family Law Attorney
Verified

Hello! I will be reviewing your question and posting a response momentarily; if you have any follow up questions please respond here. Thanks!

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I am sorry to hear this; so there are no pending court orders other than the child support order issued by MD?

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
correct

Thanks; a few minutes please.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
I'm still here

So under the UCCJEA, the federal child custody jurisdiction act, the children's home state (MD) would have continuing and exclusive jurisdiction over the custody issue.

For child custody the court will look to the best interests of the child-that statute is here:

http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmStatutesText.aspx?article=gfl&section=9-107&ext=html&session=2017RS&tab=subject5

One of the things they will give significant weight to is if a parent discourages the children from having a meaningful relationship with the other parent, (without justification), because the law does favor ongoing and continuous relationships with BOTH parents as that is presumably in the child's best interest.

This explains in detail the factors the court will consider:

https://www.peoples-law.org/child-custody-maryland

So essentially the father can petition the court for custody or visitation; if the children have a preference and that preference is based on mature and logical reasoning the court can take that into consideration. When a parent lives out of state, the court will try to encourage phone/video visitation in between physical visitations.

Basically when the parties have been physically separated for a year or longer, that is grounds for an absolute divorce, meaning the court can divide the marital property and terminate the marriage.

A party can make a divorce difficult by fighting custody, alimony amount, division of property; but if a party refuses to even participate in the divorce, the court can enter a default judgment.

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Thank you- I was typing so just noticed your response; please let me know if you have any questions on the above; if you receive an offer for a phone call that is autogenerated and I'm not set up for that so if you have any questions please post here and I will reply. Thanks.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
I honestly feel she would refuse to even participate in the divorce. Do you happen to know in terms of time, how long it would take the court to enter a default judgment? Also can I file for divorce in the state I live (VA) or do I have to go to MD? Can I file papers online?

When custody is an issue then it needs to be filed in the children's home state as they are the only court with jurisdiction over the children.

There is no statutory timeframe for the divorce but in reality it takes betewen 6-12 months for filing the paperwork, getting a hearing, and having the judge enter the final decree.

This assumes the other party does not contest everything-that can have it drag out for a substantial time.

It is possible to "bifurcate" the case so the marital status can be terminated while custody, property etc is determined.

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Yes, most jurisdictions allow for papers to be filed online, and also allow for telephonic appearances; the particular judge sets their own rules as to those issues so the court clerk would need to be consulted (most jurisdictions have that information online)

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Ok so I need to file in MD. Do I ask for it to be "bifurcated"? Not exactly sure what that means but if it can make me completely divorced from her, that is one step closer than current.

Once the original papers are filed, setting forth the various issues, then a petition for bifurcation can be filed- it basically allows the court to terminate the marital status while preserving jurisdiction over the other issues such as custody so that the parties can get on with their lives while the other issues are being dealt with.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
oh wait I missed the part about the YES to online filing. This is all so confusing for me. Not an excuse but I'm a guy and we typically need a hand when dealing with this type of stuff. I get so stressed out and don't even like thinking about it. sorry for all the stupid questions.

Believe me, it's confusing for everyone- I wish they would simplify both family law and probate because most people end up having to deal with those at some point in their life.

One can hire an attorney on a limited scope basis- so basically they would give you the papers that need filed, you would complete them (saving money) and the attorney would review for accuracy; then the attorney may make court appearances if that is preferred (some people do that on their own).

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Here are the forms for divorce:

http://www.courts.state.md.us/family/forms/divorce.pdf

It comes with instructions but it is best to have an attorney review it to make sure that it is having the desired legal effect.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Can I file online with the site CompleteCase.com?

We can't give specific referrals to private companies per the terms of this site.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
I understand. the link you just provided, will I be able to do everything from there? everything we talked about?

No, that just provides the forms;

This explains the process;

http://mdcourts.gov/legalhelp/family.html

Once the forms are completed they need to be filed- you can mail them in or file online if your county (where the children live) allows for this-it varies by county so you would need to contact that county clerk and ask if they have an online portal; if not they would be mailed in.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
ok... is there anything else I should know before I dive into this? I feel it should be easy to do but its so intimidating, I don't want to miss anything.

If you review the above links in detail it is best because the more one is familiar with the process the better.

There are state specific books that help with the process but we can't give specific referrals- I find the most successful self represented individuals are the ones who take the time to thoroughly research everything; but again if one can afford an attorney that is the way to go-at least the limited scope representation.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Thank you so much for your time. I am not set up to have paid representation so I want to be able to do this the right way the first time. I will be giving you a positive review. I appreciate you being patient with me as well. have a good day.

You are most welcome; I wish you the best on this- take care.

LegalGems
LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 11,169
Experience: Experienced Family Law Attorney
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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
thank you!!
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