Monthly Archives: December 2020

Divorcing During the Pandemic: What You Need to Know about Marital Settlement Agreements


A Marital Settlement Agreement, also known as a Marital Separation Agreement, is a written legal agreement that settles all marital issues and which allows the parties to move forward with an Uncontested Divorce Hearing. In other words, it is a legal contract that outlines the terms of the divorce. Marital issues include everything from child custody, visitation, alimony, and the division of marital property. Marital issues can even extend into making decisions about healthcare, life insurance, pets, shared debts, specific household items, investments, businesses, and legal fees.


When Should I Consider a Marital Settlement Agreement?

Marital Settlement Agreements allow spouses to move forward with an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is obtained when both spouses agree on all issues, without the need for litigation. In general, an uncontested divorce based upon a signed agreement that is incorporated, but not merged, is the best result for a divorcing couple. It allows the parties to control the outcome of their divorce, it is less expensive than litigation, and it avoids the emotional pain of a trial. 

Marital Settlement Agreements are also a great option for spouses that want to get a divorce during the pandemic. At the time of this blog being posted, in most of the jurisdictions in Maryland, the courts are not hearing multi-day contested divorce trials. The number of cases that have been postponed has created a tremendous backlog. Many couples who are seeking a divorce are seeing lengthy delays. If you and your spouse can compromise and reach an agreement on the terms of your divorce, you will have the opportunity to finalize your divorce much quicker than if you wait for a trial. Uncontested Divorce Hearings are still being scheduled and, unlike multi-day trials, can easily be held remotely.


Why Should I Consider a Marital Settlement Agreement?

Marital Settlement Agreements can save you time and money. Instead of waiting to go to court to litigate, you can settle all of your marital issues at any time and without having to pay the legal fees that are associated with a multi-day trial. In addition, you can finalize your divorce quickly, even during the pandemic, by appearing for a remote Uncontested Divorce Hearing.  


What is the Process of a Marital Settlement Agreement?

  1. Negotiation. You and your spouse, or the attorneys that you and your spouse hire to represent you, will discuss the terms of the agreement. Typically, one party presents a list of proposed terms, and the parties work on reaching an agreement on each term until all terms are resolved. Sometimes a mediator is brought in to assist in reaching an agreement on all terms.   
  2. Draft. After an agreement is reached as to all terms, one attorney will prepare a draft Marital Settlement Agreement and send it to the other attorney for review. There may be some edits to the specific language or revisions to certain terms to ensure that all necessary details are contained within the agreement. Once all parties and counsel agree upon the language, the agreement is signed by the parties, and their signatures are notarized.   
  3. Complaint. Soon after the Marital Settlement Agreement is signed, one party will file a Complaint for Absolute Divorce with the appropriate Circuit Court and attach a copy of the agreement. The other party will file an Answer.
  4. Uncontested Divorce Hearing. The moving party must appear with counsel for an Uncontested Divorce Hearing, at which time a Judge or a Magistrate will accept the agreement and hear testimony regarding the ground for divorce. Uncontested Divorce Hearings are being held remotely in all jurisdictions.  The various jurisdictions are using different remote platforms, but your lawyer will receive a link, which will be forwarded to you. The non-moving party and his or her counsel has the right to be present at the Uncontested Divorce Hearing, but their presence is not required. If the case involved children, the court must be presented with a copy of the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. If the parties are seeking to deviate from the guidelines, they must explain the reason for the deviation. Remember that anything you include in your agreement will be enforceable by the court once it is incorporated, but not merged, into a Judgment of Absolute Divorce.
  5. Follow up. Once your Marital Settlement Agreement is court-approved, you and your ex-spouse must follow the terms as laid out in the agreement. You must also review the terms carefully to ensure you understand your obligations moving forward. For instance, if there is an agreement to divide retirement assets, a separate order may be required to be submitted to the court. Your Marital Settlement Agreement becomes a part of a court order. If one person refuses to comply with the terms of the agreement, there may be legal consequences for that failure.

If you have questions about divorcing during the pandemic, please contact Turnbull, Nicholson & Sanders, P.A. at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of family law attorneys is here to help guide you.


Related Post: Divorcing During the Pandemic When You Can’t Get Into Court

Attorney Snehal Massey Elected to 2021 Executive Board of South Asian Bar Association of Washington DC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Earlier this month, Snehal Massey was elected to the 2021 Executive Board of the South Asian Bar Association of Washington DC.

South Asian Bar Association of Washington DC, (SABA-DC) is a voluntary bar association dedicated to meeting the needs and interests of the South Asian American legal community in the Washington metropolitan area. The organization strives to advance the professional development of South Asian lawyers and law students and provide a forum for professional and social networking.  

Snehal Massey is an Associate Attorney at Turnbull, Nicholson, Sanders, P.A. She joined the firm earlier this year and practices all aspects of family law in Maryland. Snehal joined SABA-DC in the fall of 2019 and over the last year has become an active member. In August 2020, she was invited to and moderated a panel, “Introspection within the South Asian Community: How Our Experiences Can Shape Our Support of Black Lives.”, the second in the organization’s Anti-Racism series.

In her role as a General Director of the Executive Board, Snehal will serve the membership by developing and supporting SABA-DC’s robust programming and opportunities.

“I am very excited and honored to serve on the board. I hope to bring a different perspective to the organization and hope the diversity of experience that I can bring will be of value to our membership and appeal to a wider audience of attorneys in the South Asian legal community.”


To learn more about SABA-DC, please visit their website here.

To learn more about Snehal Massey, please visit her bio here.

Divorcing During the Pandemic: When You Can’t Get Into Court


Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in the state of Maryland, the court system is returning to Phase II of the Maryland Judiciary’s reopening plan. Phase II does not permit in-person multi-day trials, and many jurisdictions will not hold multi-day trials remotely. The courts will continue to hear other matters in-person or remotely, but in most jurisdictions all multi-day family law cases must wait until Phase IV of the reopening plan. 

If you are considering filing for divorce or have filed and are waiting to begin the divorce process, you may wonder what your options are. At TNS Family Law, our attorneys understand that it can be frustrating to feel like you cannot move forward with your divorce. However, you do have options!


Divorce Options While The Courts Are Restricted

Here are the options for moving forward with a divorce while the Maryland court system is restricted. Please note that all of these options can be accomplished remotely when necessary to do so.

  1. Settlement Agreements. If you and your spouse agree on all of the major issues of your divorce, you will want to consider a Marital Settlement Agreement. A Marital Settlement Agreement is a path to an uncontested divorce in the state of Maryland. You and your spouse work with your respective family law attorneys to resolve issues regarding your marital property, child support, child custody, alimony, and any other important matters. Once an agreement has been reached, your attorneys will draft the Marital Settlement Agreement and file it along with a Complaint for Absolute Divorce with the court. The court will then schedule an Uncontested Divorce Hearing, the agreement will be approved, and your divorce can be finalized.
  2. Mediation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that can be used to finalize your divorce outside of the courtroom. In mediation, both spouses hire a family law attorney to represent them. A certified mediator, typically another attorney or a retired judge, leads the negotiation between the two spouses regarding all important marital issues, like marital property, child custody, child support, and alimony. The goal of mediation is to use the mediator as a middle ground between the two spouses to come to agreements that are in the best interest of the family. The mediator does not make any decisions for the spouses. Instead, the mediator helps the parties reach decisions for themselves. The attorneys representing each spouse ensure that their client’s best interests are considered throughout the mediation process.
  3. Arbitration. Arbitration is another form of alternative dispute resolution that can help spouses resolve their marital issues and finalize their divorce outside of the courtroom. In arbitration, both spouses will hire a family law attorney to represent them through the arbitration process. The arbitrator, typically a retired judge, serves as a neutral third party to hear the case and, ultimately, make the final decisions for each martial issue.
  4. Parent Coordination. Parent Coordination is an excellent option for parents that have a difficult time making shared decisions about their children. Certified Parent Coordinators are required to complete specialized training and continuing education to help parents resolve issues. In a Parent Coordination session, the Parent Coordinator will lead a discussion about specified disagreements and assist the parents in coming to shared decisions. In the event that both parents cannot come to a shared decision, the Parent Coordinator can make the decision on their behalf. Parent Coordinators cannot override court orders, but they are especially helpful when it comes to day-to-day decision making and are a great option for high-conflict couples.


If you have questions about divorcing during the pandemic, please contact Turnbull, Nicholson & Sanders, P.A. at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of family law attorneys is here to help guide you.

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