Divorce Information Center

Let Our Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland Divorce Lawyers Explain the Process

Divorce Overview

Realizing that it is time to move on and end your marriage is difficult and may be one of the most important, life-altering decisions you will ever make. You are no doubt faced with a whirlwind of emotions regarding your financial, social and overall personal circumstances. That is why you need experienced divorce attorneys to guide you through an otherwise overwhelming process. With assistance from the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia divorce attorneys at M.C. Thomas & Associates, PC this transition can bring satisfying outcomes that protect your rights, your finances and your future. The firm's principal attorney Michelle C. Thomas will listen to you attentively, gather pertinent information about your life and what led to the divorce and ultimately devise the strategy designed to help you obtain the best result for you and your family.

Grounds for Divorce

Once you decide that you want to proceed with a divorce, together, we will identify the grounds for divorce on which you can file. Many states allow you to file on (1) No Fault Grounds or (2) Fault Based Grounds for divorce. For example, in Virginia, you may obtain a No Fault divorce if you have been separated for six months, do not have children, and have resolved all of the issues between you and your spouse through a Marital Settlement Agreement. If you have children, then you may file for a No Fault divorce after being separated for one year. A Fault based divorce is also available to you in Virginia on the following primary grounds: Adultery, Desertion or Abandonment, and Cruelty or Abuse. During an initial consultation with our law firm, we will explore each ground that applies to your divorce case, assess your goals, analyze the burdens of proof and ramifications of each ground, and decide which ground(s) will best support your goals. In the District of Columbia, only No Fault grounds are available. You may file for divorce after being separated for six months if it is mutual and voluntary. Otherwise, you must be separated from your spouse for one year prior to filing for divorce. You may, however, obtain relief through a Complaint for Legal Separation. One of the experienced Washington, D.C. or Virginia divorce attorneys at M.C. Thomas & Associates will strategize with you to determine whether to file for a Legal Separation, or for an Absolute Divorce.

Asset Protection and Property Distribution

Whether you have been married for several years or just a few, it is likely that your finances have become intertwined with your spouse’s, and you now face the task of determining how to divide property. The courts will only divide marital property, which we will help you identify during our consultation with you. We then focus on how to protect assets that should remain your separate property, and how to equitably divide marital property so that you obtain what is due to you. At our firm, we believe in an expansive, comprehensive definition of property, and include such items as stock options, frequent flier miles, timeshares as well as traditional assets such as real estate, vehicles, stocks and other securities, retirement accounts, including 401(K)s, pensions, IRAs and more. For business owners, we employ a variety of experts to determine the value of the business that you have worked so hard to build and determine the percentage that is attributed to your goodwill. Similarly, we will help you identify the intangible ways that you have supported your spouse’s business in order to achieve your goals.

Spousal Support and Alimony

Most divorcing couples face the issue of whether spousal support will be paid, and if so, in what amount. The terms “spousal support” and “alimony” are used interchangeably, and is the amount of money paid by one spouse to the other during and after the divorce for a period of time. Spousal Support may be permanent, meaning to the death of either party or remarriage of the recipient, or it may be rehabilitative and paid for a limited period of time. The Courts consider several factors in determining whether an award of spousal support is appropriate and the appropriate amount of the award, including the length of the marriage, age and health of the parties, incomes, earning capacity, support of the spouse’s career, and more. Given the number of factors and discretion the court has in applying the factors to each case, it is important to consult a divorce attorney to ensure that you are protected against an unfair award of support. Together, we will discuss the factors that are most relevant to your case to determine the award, if any, that is in your best interest.

Next Steps

There are many complex decisions that have to be made once you decide to divorce. With the emotional issues with which you are confronted, it is best to rely on experienced divorce and family law attorneys to help you make sound decisions and guide you through the process. That way, you can focus on the emotional aspect of divorce, and we can do the rest. Please contact our Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland divorce lawyers for your informative, initial consultation with Michelle.