The Law Office of Tracey L. Perrick, LLC practices many areas of family law. We often receive phone calls inquiring about what services we provide. This is a list of the most common matters we deal with. This is not all-encompassing, so if you do not see your matter on this list, feel free to email or call to inquire about specifics.
Prenuptial agreements are binding contracts that couples enter into prior to getting married. Oftentimes, one or both parties want to protect certain assets in the event of a divorce as well as reach an agreement on how the couple will handle their finances both during the marriage and in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement, however, cannot dictate child custody or child support, either for existing children of the couple or unborn children.
Postnuptial agreements are binding contracts that couples enter into after marriage. In the event that couples did not have the time to draft a prenuptial agreement prior to the marriage, or in the event an unexpected event happens during the course of the parties’ marriage, but the goal is to stay married, couples have the option of entering into something called a Postnuptial agreement.
Most divorcing couples, even if their case starts out in litigation, end up settling. In divorce law, settlement is when the couple enters into a written agreement called a Marital Settlement Agreement, a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement, or some variation thereof, all of which are also generally considered postnuptial agreements. These written agreements serve as a contract between the parties that directs how the parties will dissolve their marriage. These written agreements address, if applicable, custody, support, property division, division of retirement accounts, the marital home and any other real property owned by both or one of the parties, any businesses, vehicles, bank accounts, taxes and even the family pet(s). Tracey has extensive experience drafting prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. She can also provide consultation, review and negotiation of an agreement your spouse or significant other has presented to you, if your spouse or significant other has already presented you with a draft prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Alimony is also known as spousal support. However, unlike child support in Maryland, for which there are Child Support Guidelines based upon a formula, the award of alimony is governed by a variety of statutory factors and is much more subjective. Not every spouse is entitled to alimony. Whether the issue is an award of temporary, rehabilitative, and/or indefinite alimony, it is important to talk with an attorney to ensure you understand your rights and you are protected, whether you are the payor or the payee.
When parents are separating with the intent to divorce, child custody is often one of the most difficult issues parents face. Parents struggle with coming to terms with the fact they may not see their child every day and what is the best custody schedule for their children. If parents are not able to agree upon a custody schedule themselves, either alone or via settlement, negotiations, mediation, or another alternative dispute resolution process, the Court will decide a custody schedule in the best interest of the children. Tracey feels very strongly that it is best for every child if two parents can reach an agreement on a custody schedule in the best interest of their child, versus having a Judge, a stranger, decide what is best for their family.
Custody issues are not limited to biological parent disputes. Tracey can also provide representation in third party custody matters, including de facto parenthood cases.
Sometimes custody cases involve other states, whether a parent wishes to move, a parent has relocated without the consent of the other or whether it is simply an interstate case. Tracey handles Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) cases where she helps to either bring your custody matter to Maryland or ensure that the case is removed from Maryland to the more appropriate venue.
Custody in Maryland is always modifiable, provided there is a material change in circumstances and it is in the best interest of the child. Tracey regularly handles child custody modification cases, whether you want to modify an existing custody Agreement or Consent Order, or an Order of Court.
Whenever your case involves custody of a child, a child support determination must be made. In Maryland, there are Child Support Guidelines, which, if parties fall at or below a combined certain gross income per month, are presumptively accurate. However, there are often other considerations that must be made when running child support calculations, and if the parties fall into an “above guidelines” scenario wherein their gross monthly incomes, combined, are above the Guidelines amount, the analysis is more case-specific. Moreover, there are significant changes coming to the child support laws in Maryland as of October 1, 2020, and it is important to speak with Tracey about those at the outset of your case.
Child Support in Maryland is always modifiable, provided there is a material change in circumstances and it is in the best interest of the child. Tracey regularly handles child support modification cases, whether you want to modify an existing custody Agreement or Consent Order, or an Order of Court.
Collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It is not mediation and it is not settlement negotiations. By agreeing to this process, the divorcing couple and their collaborative team enters into a collaborative participation agreement, which requires full transparency and keeping the matter out of Court. Nothing discussed during the collaborative process can be used in Court. In this process, the couple utilizes a team of collaboratively trained professionals (i.e. collaboratively trained attorneys, mental health professionals, financial professionals, etc.) to reach a resolution. At a minimum, each party has their own collaboratively trained attorney, and there is at least one mental health counselor guiding the meetings. The collaborative process not only seeks to help divorcing couples address all of the issues in their case, but also helps the couple manage the emotions arising out of the dissolution of their marriage.
Contempt is the way the court enforces its own orders. If your former spouse or former significant other is violating the terms of an existing court order, you may have a contempt case and be able to seek relief from the court, which could include having your attorneys’ fees reimbursed. To be held in contempt, there must have been a willful violation of a court order. A person may be found in contempt of orders involving child support, custody, and/or other family-law related court orders. Contempt is not to be taken lightly, as the consequences of being found in contempt can be required “purge provisions,” being ordered to pay the other side’s attorneys’ fees, and in extreme, certain cases, jail time.
Tracey has extensive experience representing clients in divorce cases, from inception to completion. You have a variety of process options when initiating a divorce – mediation, collaborative law, settlement negotiations, or court. Tracey will help you determine which process is best for you and your family. Divorce overlaps with many family law practice areas. During the divorce process, Tracey will explain your options and assist you with the all of the issues you face, including custody, child support, alimony, distribution of property, parenting plans, division of retirement, and any other related issues.
The Maryland mutual consent divorce law removed the 12-month requisite separation period to obtain an absolute divorce from your spouse. It allows couples, as well as parents as of 2018, to obtain a divorce even if they are not able to separate and still reside under the same roof. But just because the process is streamlined does not mean everything about a mutual consent divorce is straightforward. There are several requirements to obtain a mutual consent divorce in Maryland. Tracey will help guide you through these requirements so that you can obtain a mutual consent divorce expeditiously.
When couples divorce, they must also determine how they wish to divide their marital assets, which includes tangible property (i.e. houses and vehicles) and intangible property (i.e. bank accounts and retirement accounts). Maryland is an equitable distribution state. The parties or a trial judge must decide how to equitably divide the parties’ real property, marital home, retirement assets, bank accounts, vehicles, and any other assets.
The mediation process is an alternative dispute process that can happen both outside of court, or during the litigation process. Often, clients decide to try mediation to see if they can resolve their issues without going through the expense and emotional turmoil of litigation. However, parties involved in litigation can always also utilize mediation during the litigation process to try to resolve their issues before trial. When both parties choose to mediate, a third-party mediator sits down with both parties, and often their counsel, to try to help resolve their family law issues by helping the parties find settlement options that work best for their family. The mediator is a third -party neutral and not a decision-maker. The mediator helps the parties find common ground and can also draft an agreement or mediated term sheet for the parties. If you and your spouse agree to mediate or have already engaged a mediator, Tracey can serve as your attorney and mediation coach, where she will help you generate settlement options and guide you through the mediation process.
A protective order may be necessary where there is abuse by a spouse, former spouse, significant other, or member of your household. If you have obtained a protective order, or are seeking to obtain a protective order, or were served with a protective order for which you feel you are falsely accused, Tracey may be able to assist you. It is best to seek the advice of counsel prior to obtaining a protective order, or, at the very least, prior to a final protective order hearing. The timeline between the filing for a protective order and a final protective order hearing is often short, so it is critical to reach out to an attorney right away.