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Bel Air and Dundalk, MD

410-529-0050

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THE ANSWERS YOU NEED

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HELPFUL ANSWERS TO YOUR LEGAL QUESTIONS

The law is complicated, and you probably have a lot of questions about your case. At Maria Caruso Law, we have compiled a list of most frequently asked questions about family law, criminal law, and estate planning issues to help you.

Family law questions

How much is this going to cost me?

Most attorneys charge by the hour (typically $200 - $350 per hour), so the longer your divorce takes because of disagreements, the more it will cost you. Being prepared to meet with your attorney, and the more willing you are to help with your case, the more affordable it will be.

 

What steps are involved in the divorce and custody process?

Divorce can be handled in 3 different ways: mediation, collaborative law, or separation agreements. It is typically in your best interest to settle your divorce one of these ways, but if an agreement can't be reached, you will have to let the courts step in and

make a decision.

 

Is there a waiting period for a divorce in Maryland?

In Maryland, couples seeking a divorce must be separated for at least a year. Exceptions to the waiting period can be made. Make sure to talk to us during that waiting period so we can deal with as many issues as possible during that time, smoothing out the process. We can also help you file a limited divorce.

 

How long will the divorce take?

There is no set time frame for a divorce, aside from the 1-year separation period. If you and your spouse can quickly agree on property and custody issues, then your divorce could be settled in just a few months. If you cannot, it will take a year or longer.

 

Is a "no-fault" divorce possible?

Maryland is a no fault state. That means, no blame needs be assessed when filing. You and your spouse can set the grounds to be "mutual and voluntary." That means both parties freely agree to separate with no hope of expectation of reconciliation. Just because the divorce is a "no-fault" one, it doesn't mean it can't be contested.

Criminal law questions

What should I NOT do if I am arrested?

Getting arrested is a stressful experience. It is important to stay calm, be polite to law enforcement, and provide them with your real identification — even if you are being falsely accused. Being polite doesn't mean you have to confess. Once you get to jail, try to call our office and arrange for a bond right away.

 

Don't meet with law enforcement without us there with you. Also wait for us before taking any tests, joining a lineup, etc. Don't answer questions asked by law enforcement and court officials unless we advise you to. Don't consent to a search of your vehicle. Don't talk to others about your case, and don't bribe an officer.

 

What is the difference between a DUI and a DWI?

A DUI (driving under the influence) is more serious than a DWI (driving while intoxicated). Typically, you will be charged with both a DUI and a DWI, but the state will only proceed with one. You will most likely be charged with a DWI if your BAC is less than .08%, but you are still considered to be impaired. DUI charges will be pursued if your BAC is over .08%.

 

Both DUIs and DWIs include fines and license suspensions. You could face up to a year of jail time with a DUI and 2 months with a DWI. The fines are also steeper for DUIs than they are for DWIs.

 

Will I lose my driver's license after a DUI or DWI arrest?

Typically following a DUI arrest, you will be given a temporary license that is valid for 45 days. You must schedule a hearing with the MVA within 10 days of your arrest to attempt to maintain your driving privileges. If you don't schedule that hearing, your license will be suspended on the 46th day after your arrest.

 

Contact us right away to help with your MVA hearing and criminal charges. These arrests add points to your license, which could cause you to attend a driver improvement program or having your license revoked. Points only accumulate if you have been convicted.

 

Will I have to serve jail time for a DUI or DWI arrest in Maryland?

There is a potential for jail time with each of these offenses. The more drunk driving convictions you have, the more likely you are to face jail time. First-time offenders generally will not serve jail time. A DUI can come with up to 1-year of jail time, a DWI can include up to 2 months.

 

Am I required to have a defense attorney for a Maryland DUI or DWI?

No, but it's greatly beneficial to have someone with the legal knowledge and experience to guide you through the legal process. It's rare for someone to face these charges without an attorney present.

Estate questions

What is a living will?

Living wills are written statements explaining and detailing the type of medical care you do (and do not) want, if you become incapacitated in an end-stage medical condition. It's a way to make your preferences known to your family and physician when you are no longer able to make them known yourself.

 

When does a living will take effect?

Your physician will determine whether or not you have the ability to make your own health care decisions, and he or she will determine when to follow your directives. This means you can't understand the nature and consequences of the choices you are facing, and you are unable to communicate your wishes orally, in writing, or through gestures.

 

What is the last will and testament?

Your last will and testament is a legal document that precisely states what is to be done with your property after you die. Any adult of sound mind is entitled to make a will. You must sign and date your will, and at least 2 witnesses must watch you sign the will, then sign the will themselves, for your last will and testament to be considered legal.

 

What happens if I die without a will?

If you don't have a will, state law will determine what happens to your property. Typically, your belongings will be given to your spouse or children. If you don't have anyone then, your property will go to your closest relative. If that person can't be found, then the state will inherit your belongings.

 

What is probate?

Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone passes away. This process involves proving that the deceased's will is valid, identifying, inventorying, and appraising their estate, paying off debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining property according to the directions of the will.

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