If you are anticipating or in the midst of a custodial conflict or divorce, you may find yourself going through one of the most challenging times in your life. The issues involved are very personal and can be highly emotional. They often present no easy answers and can affect every aspect of your daily existence. Clearly, the end results, whether determined by a judge or agreement between the parties will affect the future welfare of all concerned. Yet, handling of the process is equally important, as it can have a profound effect on both your own and your children’s stability and sense of well-being, both now and into the future.

When you retain the Law Offices of Deborah J. Suess to represent you in your family law matter, you will receive the courteous, professional and caring personal attention of a client-oriented practice. All meetings will take place directly with your attorney, who is experienced in the field, and dedicated to providing prompt response to your inquiries, as well as keeping you informed and involved in your case.

Deborah Suess maintains it as her primary goal, to assist each individual client in striving for and reaching a result that will meet his or her needs, while also protecting the needs and best interests of any children involved and working to preserve family assets. Most often, this can best be achieved through a combination of mediation and/or negotiated agreement. However, when matters cannot be resolved in this manner and trial becomes necessary, she will advocate aggressively for her client, through the trial process.

Practice Areas and Goals Of Representation

Whatever the nature of your case, Deborah Suess will make it her goal to:

  • Listen to and understand your concerns and suggest reasonable options to address those concerns.
  • Help you to understand your legal options, as a well-informed client is able to make better decisions.
  • Help you to sort and prioritize the practical vs. emotional and the short term vs. long term issues and possible courses of action in handling your case.
  • Help you to understand the limits of the court’s powers and to think outside the box in coming up with viable options for resolution of important issues, without the need for a contested trial.
  • Assist you through the legal process with compassion and clear direction.
  • Work with opposing counsel, or an unrepresented opposing party, toward terms of agreement, which will preserve the assets of the family, while meeting the needs of parties and children.
  • Go to trial, when necessary, with solid preparation and strong advocacy.

" Practice areas include custody and visitation, child support, paternity, marital settlement agreements, alimony and spousal support, divorce, property division, post-divorce modification, name change, step-parent adoption, Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) matters, and guardianship."


Do you have concerns about the effect of your separation or divorce on your children? Do you question what you can do to help them get through this difficult process?

In matters of custody and visitation, whether or not the parents have been married, Maryland Law requires that a custodial arrangement be predicated upon the best interests of the child or children. This is true, regardless of whether the plan is the result of an agreement reached through mediation or negotiation between the parties, or a plan imposed by the court. In making this determination, there are numerous factors to consider and, as every family unit is unique, the relevant factors differ in each case. Therefore, a successful parenting plan must take into account the ages of the children and all of their needs, including physical, emotional, educational and social as well as the circumstances of the parents.

In most cases, parties must continue to co-parent their children after separation and/or divorce and their children are better off with the benefit of that co-parenting. Experience has shown that a custodial arrangement works better, in the long run, if it is reached with the approval and acceptance of both parents. Deborah Suess will work with you, first, to sort through and understand the particular facts of your situation and the specific needs of your children to come up with a set of priorities for what you want for your children. Then, she will continue to work with you to formulate a strategy toward achieving a plan which will best suit your individual family, working through mediation and/or negotiation and, if it becomes necessary, through strong advocacy in a custodial hearing or trial.

Child Support

Unlike custody, child support in Maryland is governed by statute and is based on a formula and a chart. In most cases, even the court has no authority to make or accept a determination of child support that does not fall within the statutory guidelines. However, there are rare circumstances, in which exceptions can be made. It is, also, important to understand what expenses are meant to be covered by child support, what expenses can be addressed in addition to basic child support, and the options for the manner of payment of the child support obligation. Deborah Suess addresses these matters carefully with each client, in light of individual and family circumstances, to be sure that all appropriate factors are taken into account in any child support calculation, whether as part of a negotiated agreement or in a child support hearing before the court.

Modification of Children's Issues

Circumstances and needs change over time and sometimes these changes are significant enough to warrant modification of previously set custody, visitation and/or child support arrangements. If this applies to you, whether your concerns are triggered by a long distance move, a significant job and schedule change, a medical situation, or some other serious matter that affects the needs of your child, it will benefit you to understand how Maryland law affects your set of facts. As in an original custody determination, most cases can be resolved through a negotiated agreement. If agreement cannot be reached between the parties, the court must base its decision on what is in the best interest of the child, but in a modification request, there are additional standards which must be met, before the court has authority to act. Deborah Suess can help you to assess your situation and consider your options before any court filing, as well as assist you through the court procedure and represent you at any required hearing.

Marital Settlement Agreements

A marital settlement agreement, commonly known as a separation agreement, is a written document confirming terms of agreement between the parties, which are specifically suited to their circumstances and needs. Ideally, this document addresses all actual and possible issues that have arisen or might arise between the parties, given their family circumstances before, during and after their separation and divorce. This agreement cannot waive child support or take away the court’s jurisdiction over custody, but it does increase the options available to the parties in how to resolve matters of custody and visitation. It also allows the parties to make binding decisions as to division and treatment of their marital property and financial assets, eliminating the risk and uncertainty of allowing those decisions to be made by the court.

Although a separation or settlement agreement is not required, to move forward with a divorce, it is highly desirable, as it allows the parties much more control over their own lives and the lives of their children, than if they were to allow a court to make decisions for them. It also allows for a smoother, quicker and less expensive final divorce process. Once agreement is reached between the parties, it must be reduced to a written document and filed with the court, as part of the pleadings, so that its terms can and will become an enforceable part of the final court decree.

It is strongly recommended that every individual have independent representation by a qualified attorney, before entering into such an agreement for several reasons. Deborah Suess will provide you with accurate knowledge of the process and the significance of a written agreement. She will also work with you to ensure that you understand every provision in your agreement and have fully considered its tax consequences, as well as help you to consider and provide, as best as possible, for every future issue of importance that can reasonably be anticipated in your particular situation.


A court determination of alimony is based on many factors, with highest consideration going to the duration of the marriage and the incomes and financial needs of the parties. As every family unit is unique, the relevance of other factors will differ in each case. There is no required formula or chart governing alimony, as there is for child support. Deborah Suess will help you to assess whether alimony is an appropriate option in your case and work with you, first, to determine if a reasonable and effective plan of financial support can be reached by agreement. If not, she will assist you in preparing the sometimes extensive information and documentation required to present your case to the court and represent you through the trial process.

Distribution of Marital Property

Division or distribution and handling of your marital property, including financial assets, can be extremely important during your separation and divorce process. If agreement cannot be reached between the parties on these matters, the court will make binding decisions at a final divorce trial. However, the court is limited in its options in handling property, and often has no choice but to order sale of a home or items of personal property and division of proceeds, resulting in a sale for less than full value, with a net financial loss to the parties.

In contrast to this, parties who negotiate a resolution have more freedom of choice in the end result. Deborah Suess will help you to be creative in designing a result, which will serve to preserve existing assets and work best for you. Effort spent in negotiating a property settlement agreement can be essential, if the goal is to preserve family assets for the future use and benefit of the parties and children.


Grounds for an absolute divorce in Maryland include several fault grounds, such as adultery, a twelve month desertion, and others. However, most divorces are based on the no-fault ground of an uninterrupted twelve month separation between the parties. Most recently, the legislature has added a new no-fault ground of mutual consent after a six month separation, if the parties have no children, there is a valid separation agreement resolving all issues, and both parties appear at a final hearing to request the divorce. All of these grounds are subject to specific statutory requirements, as interpreted by case law.

When considering or seeking a divorce, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities and those of your spouse, as well as how the court is likely to view your individual fact situation. Deborah Suess will provide you with this information early in the process, so that you have the opportunity to choose a course of action most likely to benefit you and your children, in the long run. This includes handling of all types of property and financial assets, as well as matters relating directly to your children and their needs.


For the past 20 years, Deborah Suess has devoted her career to the practice of family law.

For the past 20 years, Deborah Suess has devoted her career to the practice of family law. In doing so, she has provided counseling, advice and representation to a wide array of both men and women clients in the areas of custody and visitation, child support, paternity, marital separation, alimony and spousal support, divorce, distribution of property, name change, step-parent adoption, Child In Need of Assistance matters, guardianship and domestic violence.

In her capacity as attorney and legal counselor, she assists clients, first, to understand their legal options, and then to think through their own priorities and the ramifications of those priorities for themselves and their children, in order to formulate a set of realistic goals and a plan toward achieving those goals. She works with her clients through the often-difficult stages of discovery and negotiating agreements, and guides them through the court process, with compassion and understanding.

Deborah Suess completed her undergraduate work at The Johns Hopkins University, before attending the University of Maryland School of Law and being admitted to the Maryland Bar. In her current private practice, she continues her commitment to assisting individuals in the areas of family law and family law litigation, taking cases in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Harford, Howard, and Washington counties, as well as Baltimore City.

She is a member of the Maryland Bar Association, the Baltimore County Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. She has also completed training in mediation, and maintains a commitment to keeping current in her field. She believes strongly in combining the practice of law with civility and respect for all individuals.


Meetings can often be set in a location convenient to you!



Law Offices of Deborah J. Suess